Stenhouse Jr. Finishes 11th, Scores Rookie of the Race Honors at ORP CLERMONT, Ind. (July 24, 2010) -- On a hot and humid day at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 6 CitiFinancial team showed once again they would beat the...
Stenhouse Jr. Finishes 11th, Scores Rookie of the Race Honors at ORP
CLERMONT, Ind. (July 24, 2010) -- On a hot and humid day at O'Reilly Raceway Park, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 6 CitiFinancial team showed once again they would beat the heat and be a force in the race. While it took Stenhouse a short time to get up to speed, the rookie shot up the speed charts in the final practice. He backed it up in qualifying by putting the No. 6 Ford third on the starting grid, the highest rookie qualifier and fastest Roush Fenway Racing machine. Fighting an ill-handling car for the majority of the race, Stenhouse and crew chief Mike Kelley massaged the car enough to be a factor in the end. Running in the top 15 all night, Stenhouse was credited with an 11th-place finished in the Kroger 200 at ORP.
From the drop of the green flag, Stenhouse radioed to Kelley to say the CitiFinancial Ford was tight in the center and was loose off the corners. With the first half of the race consisting of long green flag runs, it was difficult for the crew to work on the car. The teams' first pit stop came under caution on lap 77 where Kelley called for four tires, fuel, track bar and wedge adjustments. Quick work by the pit crew sent Stenhouse on his way in the 10th position.
As soon as racing was back underway, Stenhouse was on the radio saying the changes did not help and that he had "no grip at all." The young wheelman battled for the next 45 laps until the second caution was displayed. On lap 120, Kelley reversed the changes from earlier in the race with hopes that Stenhouse would be more comfortable in the corners. Stenhouse, who was knocking on the door of the top 10, muscled his CitiFinancial Ford through two more cautions. Then, under the fifth caution on lap 166 with Stenhouse running 11th, Kelley ordered his young driver to pit. After four tires and slight air pressure and wedge adjustments, Stenhouse was back on track and scored in the 15th position.
With 28 laps to go and fresh tires, Stenhouse was in position to take advantage of his veteran crew chief's pit strategy. As the laps clicked off, Stenhouse picked off cars and was running 10th when the final yellow flag was displayed on lap 194. This set up a green-white-checkered finish. Stenhouse, who battled three-wide to the checkered flag, finished 11th and was the highest finishing rookie for the fourth time of the season.
"We were really good," said Stenhouse. "My Ford was just really tight in the center all night. We made some big changes on our first pit stop. I feel like those changes didn't help us, so we lost some track position on that second run. We battled all night and my CitiFinancial guys did an awesome job on pit road. We had a good car and I look forward to taking it to another short track. This place is a lot of fun. I've never really had a lot of success here in sprint cars or midgets, but an 11th says we are competitive and we can build on it. This is a driver's track and that is what I enjoy."
Kyle Busch won for the eighth time in 2010 by taking the checkered flag at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Saturday evening. The series heads to Iowa Speedway next Saturday, July 31, 2010 for the U.S. Cellular 250.