Stenhouse needs a rebound after Chicago

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. –Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Playoff debut at Chicagoland Speedway didn’t go as planned, to say the least.

An early brush with the wall, compounded by a commitment line violation, relegated the driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a 25th-place finish. In the Tales of the Turtles 400, Stenhouse’s slow and unsteady effort left him bringing up the rear among the 16 Playoff drivers.

But Stenhouse entered the race with 10 playoff points, thanks to his victories at Talladega and Daytona, and those markers kept him well within range of the cutoff point for the Round of 12. With just 15 points between 10th-place Ryan Blaney and 16th-place Ryan Newman, Stenhouse, now 14th, will design his race around the drivers he hopes to beat for the right to advance, come Oct. 1 at Dover.

“Last week, it was really an open book, and we really kind of just went for it and never really focused on certain cars,” Stenhouse said on Friday morning before opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. “I think we knew in the back of our heads which cars that we were going to end up racing. I mean, it’s not rocket science that you can tell which cars you’re going to end up racing for that final cutoff spot.

“I think for my crew chief (Brian Pattie) throughout the race, whether you stay out if a late caution comes in a stage and some cars pit to set themselves up for the next stage, or stay out to win that stage or get points, I think you can almost do the opposite and work strategy throughout the whole race based off of where those cars are running.”

Stenhouse faces an uphill battle Sunday. Late Friday he was the slowest of the Playoff drivers and will roll of 24th Sunday.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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 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.