BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2014) –Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drove his Nationwide Insurance Ford to a second-place finish in Sunday’s rain stricken Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. This career best Sprint Cup finish moves the Roush Fenway Racing driver up six positions in the championship standings to 10th place.
“We felt good about our Ford all weekend because this was a track we were good at in the Nationwide series,” Stenhouse said. “It’s good to have Mike (Kelley) back and good to be running back up front. It’s good for our partners – Zest, Fifth Third, NOS Energy Drink – it’s just a lot of fun coming back up here and running in the top five. We got a 1-2 finish for Jack Roush. The EcoPower oil was getting a little hot under cautions there, but everything held together and we were able to come home with our first top five of the year. Hopefully, we can keep that going.”
After a delayed start due to rain, the two-time NASCAR Nationwide champion lined up in the 21st position and battled a loose handling machine for the first part of the race. When the red flag was displayed on lap 125 for rain, Stenhouse was sitting tenth after a two tire strategy call.
When the caution was displayed with less than 80 laps remaining, crew chief Mike Kelley chose to stay out to gain valuable track position. The Olive Branch, Miss. native restarted fourth and steadily marched his way up through the field.
After numerous laps of side-by-side racing with fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola, the 2013 Rookie of the Year maneuvered his Nationwide Insurance Ford into second place and set his sights on teammate Carl Edwards who was leading the 500-lap race.
After an unexpected caution came with two laps remaining which was followed by a rain shower, Stenhouse settled for a second-place finish at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
Stenhouse and the No. 17 team travel to Auto Club Speedway for the Auto Club 400 next weekend. The race is set for Sunday, March 23. Coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. (EST) on FOX.