Fontana, Cal. (March 25, 2013)- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. consistently ran in the top-20 before being shuffled back on the final restart with 11 laps remaining resulting in an 20th-place finish in Sunday’s Auto Club 400. The Sprint Cup rookie contender is one of five drivers to complete 100% of the laps this 2013 season.
“Our NOS Energy Drink Ford was stout the first five to 10 laps on a run before it lost rear grip,” Stenhouse said. “At the end we were making head way but chose to take two tires on the final caution which cost us, but it was a gamble and if it would have worked out it would have been great. We definitely will have to look at the race and make some adjustments because our teammates ran well. We will take an off week and regroup and then head to Martinsville.”
After battling a tight machine during his qualifying effort on Friday, the two-time Nationwide Series Champion started the Auto Club 400 in the 31st position but quickly maneuvered his No. 17 NOS Energy Drink Ford up through the field and inside the top-10 by lap 50.
With 13 laps remaining, crew chief Scott Graves gambled calling the Olive Branch, Miss. native to pit road for two right side tires and fuel for the closing laps; a strategy that was successful earlier in the race for other competitors.
On the final green flag, Stenhouse restarted in the ninth position but got pinned down shuffling him back to take the checkered flag in the 20th-position.
Next up for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team is the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 7. Race coverage begins at 12:30p.m.on FOX. Coverage can also be heard on PRN and SIRIUS radio channel 90.