Joliet, Ill. (July 23, 2012) – In dominating fashion, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sat on the pole and led a race high 135 of 200 laps in Sunday’s STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. The 2011 NASCAR Nationwide champion had victory in his sights before a late caution spoiled his bid for his fourth win of the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide season.
“We just needed a caution to go our way,” said Stenhouse after the race. “I feel that we could have caught and passed Elliott(Sadler) for the lead if that final caution hadn’t come out. We were reeling him in. My guys brought an awesome Ford Mustang and I was really hoping to get a win for Cargill and Rancher’s Reserve, but today wasn’t our day. It is just tough to digest finishing second after dominating like we did, but we will put this behind us and go to Indy and hopefully be kissing the bricks on Saturday.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native brought his No. 6 Rancher’s Reserve Ford to pit-road under green flag conditions on lap 166 for a scheduled pit-stop, but caught an unlucky break when the caution flag waved one lap later due to a spin by the No. 38 machine. Stenhouse was the first car a lap down earning him the Lucky Dog position; the last car on the lead lap for the final restart.
When the green flag waved on lap 174, Stenhouse restarted in the 10th-position and bullied his way to the front. In merely 10 laps, the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Champion had worked himself up to second-place and was slashing the lead of Elliot Sadler.
Unfortunately for Stenhouse, the No. 54 and No. 33 machines tangled bringing out the final caution on lap 193. On the final green-white-checkered finish, Stenhouse lined up to the outside of Sadler and the two-some were side by side, coming up to speed. Sadler got a big push from the No. 31, giving him the advantage. Stenhouse ran out of time and took the checkered flag in the second position.
Stenhouse and the No. 6 team travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next weekend for the inaugural Nationwide race. The race is set for Saturday, July 28. Coverage will begin at 4 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.