Close call for Stenhouse

LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 02: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Zest Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
LONG POND, PA - AUGUST 02:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Zest Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
LONG POND, PA – AUGUST 02: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Zest Ford, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

LONG POND, Pa.–Ricky Stenhouse Jr. found out the hard way just how tricky Pocono’s tunnel turn can be–especially when you’re trying to downshift into the corner.

Stenhouse scraped the wall in the Tunnel Turn during Friday’s Sprint Cup practice session. The driver’s first reaction was that his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team would have to unload the backup car, but crew chief Scott Graves opted to repair the primary.

“I had my hands full there,” Stenhouse said after the incident. I though the guys were going to have to bring me out the backup on that one for sure. I was just getting used to this race track. Last time here (in June) was the first time I ever downshifted really at an oval, so I was getting used to that.

“I didn’t downshift the first five laps through the Tunnel Turn, but then I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to downshift here and see if we can get a little extra speed.’ I downshifted a little too early, and it jumped out from under me. I thought we were bringing a backup out, but we got lucky and (only) scraped the right rear.”

Whether it’s preparing a backup or repairing a primary, a brush with the wall means extra work for the crew–and Stenhouse is willing to pay the price for that.

“I owe the guys dinner now,” he said. “I told them any time I scrape the wall, I owe them dinner, so now I owe them another dinner.”

Indeed, the team made expeditious repairs, and Stenhouse was back on the track with more than 20 minutes left in the 90-minute session, with the right rear of the No. 17 Ford heavily taped.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.