Springfield, Ill. (August 16, 2008) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. entered into Saturday’s Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 as the defending race winner looking for a repeat. The United States Auto Club (USAC) Silver Crown race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt track was all about tire management and Stenhouse showed both poise and patience throughout the 100-lap event.
In a pre-curser to Sunday’s ARCA RE/MAX Series race, Stenhouse demonstrated why Roush Fenway Racing chose him to pilot the No. 99 Ford. During the first session of hot laps, Stenhouse set a track record in Carl Edwards No. 199 RE Technologies car and went on to qualify ninth for the race. Shane Hollingsworth captured the pole with Brian Tyler on the outside of row one, but it would be Tyler who dominated the event.
The field took the green and only slowed down for two brief caution periods on laps seven and 25 and a brief red flag on lap 24 for a fuel clean up. While Tyler checked out from the field, the race was on from second on back and Stenhouse was right in the thick of things. Stenhouse settled into eighth and then challenged for seventh on lap 48. On the next lap he made the pass in turn two but contact with a lapped car in turn three sent him to the top side of the track and fighting to gather it up. Stenhouse lost several positions dropping outside the top 10 but he never gave up.
As the race wore on, tires began wearing out. Stenhouse slowly made his way back into the top 10 but felt the car starting to vibrate around lap 60, an indication that the tires were beginning to blister. With Tyler on the run the race for second to 10th became heated. With 30 laps to go Stenhouse turned it up and began reeling in the competition moving into sixth on lap 92.
Stenhouse continued his hunt and in the closing laps passed the fifth place car then just feet before taking the checkered flag passed the No. 29 for fourth. Tyler went on to win becoming only the 15th driver to lead all 100 laps on his way to victory.
“The race was fun,” said Stenhouse following the race. “During hot laps I was able to hold it pretty much wide open which was a lot of fun. We had an okay qualifying effort then during the race I was just trying to manage my tires. Under that red flag we looked at the tires and they looked pretty good so we didn’t make a change like a lot of guys did. With like 60 to go I felt the car vibrating a bit so I backed off and saw that some guys in front of me were blistering tires. With about 30 to go I went and was able to get to fourth. I have to thank Chris Santucci and everyone at Carl Edwards RE Technologies for giving me a good car today. I was able to make 150 laps which will help me tomorrow in the ARCA race so it was pretty good.”
Stenhouse returns to the one-mile dirt track tomorrow afternoon in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford when he tries to gain ground in the ARCA RE/MAX point’s championship. Stenhouse currently sits third in the overall point standings, 145 points out of first place Scott Speed. For a live call of the race and live timing and scoring, visit www.arcaracing.com.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.