Stenhouse Jr. Earns Passing Grade in Richmond Night Class RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2010) -- Out of the top-30 in owner points, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his No. 6 crew had to qualify on time at Richmond International Raceway Friday night. The ...
Stenhouse Jr. Earns Passing Grade in Richmond Night Class
RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2010) -- Out of the top-30 in owner points, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his No. 6 crew had to qualify on time at Richmond International Raceway Friday night. The young wheelman put his Ford Fusion in the field with a fast lap of 22.06; good for 15th on the starting grid. Again this week, the rookie's main focus was to run competitively and gain experience on another track that he's never raced on. Lesson learned. Despite going two laps down, Stenhouse showed he was fast by passing many lead lap cars during his first-career race on the .75-mile track. He finished 20th in the Bubba Burger 250.
As quickly as the green flag dropped, Stenhouse started to slide back in the running order. He radioed crew chief Mike Kelley saying his Ford Fusion was "free on entry and exit" and the handle wasn't to his liking. After a quick yellow-flag pit stop for fuel and adjustments, Stenhouse restarted 29th and had his work cut out for him. As the race progressed, Stenhouse was in full learning mode. On lap 68, just after going a lap down, spotter Mike Calinoff instructed Stenhouse to tuck in behind the leader (Brad Keselowski) and follow his line around the track and it paid off.
The third caution of the night was displayed on lap 95 and Kelley called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help the handling for Stenhouse. As the laps clicked off, Stenhouse was making gains and posting fast lap times. On lap 217, running in the 20th position two laps down, Kelley keyed the radio and said "whoa, that lap showed you were the fastest car on the track." Kelly continued by saying "you are not going to get the finish you deserve, but you learned a lot tonight and are driving a great race."
A late caution flag on lap 244, which set up a green white checkered finish, allowed the CitiFinancial crew one last pit stop to work on the chassis and it also allowed Stenhouse one more restart. The rookie, who had struggled with restarts early in the race, passed the final test by keeping his position in the running order and finished 20th in the Bubba Burger 250 under the lights at Richmond International Raceway.
"We definitely learned a lot," said Stenhouse. "The first two runs we struggled but we were good on old tires. Mike Kelley [crew chief] and the CitiFinancial guys did an awesome job. The pit crew gained us spots on pit road. I learned a lot so we can come back here not so much of a rookie next time. At the end of the race, we were clicking off really fast laps so that was a positive for us. Now I know what the car will need the next time we come to Richmond and that will be a huge help. The race line is a little bit different than what I was running in practice so I will be that much more comfortable in the fall."