Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Drives Roush Yates Ford FR9 to Nationwide Series Championship
Bittersweet Ford Championship Weekend for Roush Yates Engines' Title Hopes
Mooresville, NC (November 21, 2011) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took a healthy 41-point lead into Homestead-Miami Speedway for Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series finale, and proved to the racing world that he is the next great driving talent likely to earn NASCAR's highest awards and recognition as he scored his first NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship. Roush Yates' Ford FR9 engines powered Stenhouse throughout 2011 that saw him hold the points lead for a near majority of the season (17 weeks), including the final 14. Stenhouse Jr, who earned the championship in just his second season in the Nationwide Series, also scored two victories in 2011, both coming at the Iowa Speedway.
Nearly as impressive was the fact that Roush Yates' new partnership with JE Pistons had the JE's pumping life and optimal horsepower through Roush Yates' Ford FR9 Nationwide Series engines, allowing JE and its parent company, PMI, cause for celebration come Saturday evening. Since late July and through the Homestead-Miami Nationwide Series closer, Roush Yates' Nationwide engines also were internally protected by Valvoline NextGen racing oil, marking this the first known NASCAR championship, at this level, that used a 50 percent recycled motor oil.
"We have been very pleased with the Ford FR9's performance and reliability in all Ford Nationwide Series entries this season," said Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates. "We were able to come to Homestead with a comfortable points lead with Ricky, we had won 13 Nationwide Series races with five different drivers, and a championship on Saturday would give us momentum in bringing Ford one more hopefully on Sunday. The season was just incredible and I am so proud of the way Ricky drove our engines to the title."
Roush Yates' last Nationwide Series championship was 2007 when Carl Edwards earned the crown.
Edwards, however, was unable to defend his mere three-point Sprint Cup Series lead over Tony Stewart in Sunday's Ford 400 finale.
In what may go down as one of the most exciting sporting events of all time, Edwards and Stewart swapped leads and toyed with strategies as the two battled through 267 laps on Sunday. In the end, Stewart's only hope to capture the title was to win the race - even if Edwards finished a close second. That scenario played out, and Stewart found victory lane. Stewart's three-point bonus for the win erased Edwards' three-point lead and saw the season points tally end in a tie (Edwards' bonus point for leading the most laps was effectively negated by Stewart finishing one position ahead of Edwards). Unfortunately for Edwards, a tiebreaker went to Stewart by virtue of having amassed five wins in the final 10 events - to Edwards' one.