Wild accident ends Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s restrictor-plate run

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 15: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 SunnyD Ford, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 15, 2017 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

After a competitive beginning, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s bid to win a third straight restrictor-plate race ended in a 16-car wreck triggered by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 172 at Talladega Sunday.

Contact from Truex’s Toyota sent David Ragan’s Ford for a wild ride across the track near the entrance to Turn 3, and Stenhouse’s Ford suffered racing-ending collateral damage in the melee. The wreck dropped Stenhouse to a 26th-place finish and left him 11th in the series standings, 22 points behind Jimmie Johnson in eighth.

Next Sunday at Kansas Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field will be cut to eight drivers.

“We were running up the bottom, and all of a sudden the 38 (Ragan) came down,” said Stenhouse, who had finished fourth in the first stage of the Alabama 500. “I saw some stuff going on at the top and kind of right in front of me, but the 38 ended up parked right in front of us. I felt like we had a really good run coming up the bottom with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), trying to get some of our track position back that we had lost at the end of the second stage.

“Our Sunny D Ford was fast again. It felt like we had a car that was capable of getting up there and contending for the win, led some laps, and it was a bummer we didn’t get into Victory Lane. But we’ll go on to Kansas next week and have some fun.”