Stenhouse wins first NASCAR Cup race with last-lap pass
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored his first Monster Energy Cup win from the pole on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Stenhouse earned the win in his 158th career start becoming the 11th driver to earn his first victory at the 2.66-mile track.
“This is for all the guys at the shop,” Stenhouse said. “We’ve been terrible for a long time. This year, every race, we’re just getting better and better. We knew Talladega was a good race track for us. It’s been a good one in the past. Man, I’m just glad we finally parked it for my buddy Bryan Clauson. He was with us on that last lap.
“This Third Fifth Ford was so fast today. Qualifying on the pole, got win. Can’t say enough about the guys. It’s cool to get Jack Roush back in Victory Lane. This is cool. The closest track to my hometown. Man, this is cool.”
For Roush Fenway Racing, it was the first win since Carl Edwards at Sonoma Raceway in 2014.
Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard and David Ragan rounded out the top 10.
Matt Kenseth led the field to green for the final segment in the Geico 500 on Lap 116. Hamlin, who took right-side tires, was second with Keselowski, Harvick, Truex, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Johnson, McMurray, Elliott and Logano in tow.
Clint Bowyer, who received a pit road penalty for an uncontrolled tire, restarted 21st. Kyle Larson battled electrical issues, and after an extended pit stop, lined put 35th, one lap down.
Hamlin returned to the point on Lap 118. He swapped spots with Keselowski before Harvick moved into the lead on Lap 123. Hamlin was second with Keselowski, Johnson, Kenseth, Logano, Kahne, Patrick, Blaney, Bayne, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jones, David Ragan and Larson in tow.
With 60 laps remaining, Johnson took the lead for the first time. Harvick, Kenseth, Bayne, Keselowski, Hamlin, Jones, Kahne, Almirola and Truex rounded out the top 10. Harvick regained the lead on Lap 131. He held the point of for a total of 15 laps in the first 140 circuits until Logano moved into the lead.
Pit stops began on Lap 144 with the Chevys of McMurray, Earnhardt, Menard, Elliott, Kahne, Larson and Johnson. On the next lap, the Toyotas of Suarez, Truex, Jones and Corey LaJoie pitted. The remaining Joe Gibbs Racing cars — Hamlin, Kenseth and Kyle Busch came in for service along with Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher.
The Ford finally pitted on Lap 150 with Logano giving up the lead to Elliott Sadler. Keselowski, Blaney, Stenhouse, Almirola, Harvick, Bowyer, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Patrick, Bayne and Landon Cassill came in.
Ryan Blaney was the first casualty of the day after contact with Keselowski sent him in the spin cycle on backstretch on Lap 160 to bring out Caution 5. Blaney, who was running 14th at the time, ended up in the garage. Kyle Busch was leading followed by Elliott, Truex, Hamlin, Jones, Logano, Allmendinger, Kahne, Johnson, Menard, Kenseth, Earnhardt and Keselowski.
Fifteen cars pitted during the caution including Stenhouse, Almirola, Newman, Kurt Busch, Suarez, Kenseth, Johnson, Menard, Bowyer and Austin Dillon.
Busch led the field to green with 23 laps remaining. After the first lap, Hamlin moved behind Busch followed by Elliott, Logano, Allmendinger, Harvick, Earnhardt, Truex, Jones, McMurray, Kenseth, Menard, Bayne, Joey Gase, Kahne, Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
With a push from Allmendinger, Elliott moved up second behind Busch followed by Hamlin, Harvick, Logano, Earnhardt, Jones, McMurray, Menard, Kenseth and Johnson on Lap 168. But coming off of Turn 2, Elliott’s car moved right. Allmendinger, tried to hook up again, but the contact sent the No. 24 spinning into the wall and on his side.
Allmendinger ended up on his roof, and collected an additional 16 cars in the process including Logano, Jones, Harvick, Ragan, Keselowski, Kenseth, Truex, Bayne, Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Brendan Gaughan, LaJoie and Gray Gaulding.
NASCAR displayed the red flag at 2:56:59 with 19 laps remaining in the race. After 26 minutes, the race returned to yellow with Kyle Busch in the lead. The race returned to green on Lap 174. Busch was at the point followed by Hamlin, McMurray, Menard, Johnson, Bowyer, Earnhardt, Stenhouse, Ty Dillon, Kahne, Buescher, Suarez and Elliott Sadler.
After completing the first lap, Earnhardt bounced off the wall in Turn 1. He was forced to pit for left side tires. NASCAR called the seventh caution on Lap 178 for debris with 10 laps remaining in the contest. Earnhardt pitted again for left side tires and lined up 23rd.
Bowyer got loose on the backstretch with three to go. He made contact with Buecher and sent Ryan Newman spinning on Lap 185 to bring out Caution 8.
Kyle Busch continued to lead followed by Stenhouse, Johnson, Kahne, McMurray, Menard, Almirola, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Matt DiBenedetto, Buescher, Keselowski, Ragan and Earnhardt.
There were 23 cars remaining on the lead lap when the race went into overtime on Lap 189. Busch jumped out to a two-car lead on the backstretch but Stenhouse moved to the inside to take the lead. Busch got the lead back at the line on Lap 190 but with a push from Johnson, Stenhouse moved to the point and held on for his first Monster Energy Cup win.
There were 26 lead changes among 14 drivers with Kyle Busch leading the most laps (48) on Sunday.
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