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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets first win at Talladega

McMurray threads needle to come home 2nd
Sunday, May 7, 2017

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Stenhouse leads from pole in his Roush Ford
Stenhouse leads from pole in his Roush Ford

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started from the pole, avoided the "Big One" and captured his first Monster Energy Series NASCAR Cup race Sunday in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The 29-year-old Stenhouse won for the first time in 158 career races at the premier level by bolting his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford past Kyle Busch on a NASCAR overtime restart.

Jamie McMurray finished second in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, while Busch wound up third in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Rounding out the top five were Aric Almirola in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford and Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

The top finishers were able to avoid the “Big One” that came on Lap 168 of the 191-lap overtime race.

In the race’s big wreck, AJ Allmendinger turned Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet from behind as the two were battling for second place. Elliott’s car turned on its side and Allmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet flipped upside down while the red flag came out as track officials worked to turn the car on its wheels and then extricate Allmendinger. He walked from the car and was treated and released from the infield care center.

In all, 18 cars were listed as being involved in the incident, including those of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon and Danica Patrick.

"Everyone knows how these races go at the end," Patrick told FOX.

The red flag was displayed for 26 minutes, 51 seconds, and 25 cars remained on the lead lap when the race resumed with 15 laps to go.

The race featured 14 different leaders and nine cautions.

Stenhouse celebrates
Stenhouse celebrates
Getty Images for NASCAR
Brad Keselowski, who won this race a year ago, won Stage 1 after leading 26 of 55 laps in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford.

Denny Hamlin deployed strategy by pitting just before the end of Stage 1. The result is that he restarted on the front row following the conclusion of the first stage, and rode that position to a Stage 2 victory while leading 39 laps in that 55-lap segment in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. It was Hamlin’s first stage victory of the season.

The Monster Energy Series next heads to Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 13 for the Go Bowling 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

QUOTES

JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S $1 ANY SIZE SOFT DRINK CHEVROLET SS – Finished 2nd  DESCRIBE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO MAKE THOSE MOVES AND HOW IT PLAYED OUT FOR YOU: 
“I mean it’s really circumstantial as to what the guys do in front of you and what is happening behind you. I just got a run at the right time.  I thought the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) was going to get a little bit further out, but when we were coming to the line it just seemed like his car wasn’t going at that point, so it was a good finish.  It was a great race.  I’m glad everybody is okay, that was a really scary wreck on the backstretch, but really good day for our McDonald’s Chevrolet.  We had good pit stops and the guys did a great job.” 

YOU HAD A SNIFF AT THE LEAD AT THE END WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED? 
“Well, it’s so circumstantial with who gets behind you and who doesn’t.  I was really concerned with blocking the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) on my outside. The middle was by far the best lane for me all day long.  It was really close.  I thought the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) was going to pull out a little farther than he did, but super happy with our McDonald’s Chevrolet. This has been a really good track for me and I haven’t been able to finish here the last couple of years, so really happy with that.  We had good pit stops.  Matt (McCall, crew chief) did a great job calling the race.  The guys are building really good cars.  You know, it’s interesting because in year’s past I feel like this is always a track that you thought you could win at and gain great points.  And we have run so well at so many tracks this year, this was a track that I just wanted to survive at so we could get to another track and race.” 

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Skittles Red White & Blue Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position: 3rd

What happened on the final restart?

“When they have too big of a run and you can’t do anything about it. (Ricky) Stenhouse got a really good run and a good push and got by us there and then it was just about retaliation to get back on him and I just never had enough help from behind and just never got together. I just can’t say enough about this Skittles American Mix Camry – it was really fast. The guys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a great job and TRD with everyone on this motor, it was awesome. We did all we could here today and it’s all circumstantial on how you win these things. Unfortunately our circumstances didn’t quite go our way, but we go to a real race track next week and we’ll try to win there.”

How thankful were you not to be involved in the big accident?

“Certainly are, we were leading at that time and the wreck came from second so it was pretty much everybody was going to be in it and hope everyone was okay in it.”

How much were you impacted with no Toyota teammates with you at the end of the race?

“Everybody was all kind of mixed up – there was a Ford, there was a Chevy – so it was just all over the place. Certainly myself and the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) and the 11 (Denny Hamlin), we all worked really well together today and it was fun to have comradery today with teammates, but they weren’t there for us at the end.”

KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 UNIFIRST CHEVROLET SS – Finished 5th 
DESCRIBE YOUR AFTERNOON HERE TODAY: 
“Yeah, we were a little better the closer we got to the front the car was a little better.  I had a real hard time pushing other cars.  Paul Menard pushed me like crazy, did all he could, he did the same at Daytona.  So, it was great to see him back there again.  We were trying hard, I just couldn’t push the car in front of me, so we weren’t really going as far as we wanted to go.  But, it was still a great run for our UniFirst team.  Thanks to the guys, it was a brand-new car and it was a good solid top five.  We ran up there throughout the last half of the race and that was pretty good.  Congrats to Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.) and Roush and those guys.  They deserve it they have been working really hard.  Ricky has been doing this awhile, so it’s good for him.” 

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE FINAL COUPLE OF LAPS WHEN YOU ARE IN THE MIX AT TALLADEGA? 
“Just trying to keep the car behind you, trying to keep your momentum and do whatever you can.  I was just trying to push whoever was in front of me.  Paul Menard was pushing me like crazy.  Our UniFirst Chevrolet was pretty close.  I had a hard time pushing people, but I could get pushed pretty well.  I wanted to do something.  I felt like I could have gone with Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.) at one point to the left, but I wasn’t sure if Jimmie (Johnson)… I thought Jimmie was still at my left-rear, so it was close and I didn’t go, but that might have gotten Ricky to the lead there and then who knows where we would have ended up.  It was still a strong performance for our UniFirst team and happy to get a top five.  It’s been a little while.” 

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – Finished 8th 
COULD YOU HAVE THROWN THE BLOCK OR DONE ANYTHING TO ADVANCE YOUR POSITION? 
“Yeah, I mean I could have defended the middle better off of (Turn) 2.  You just don’t know where they are going to go and you are busy looking in mirrors and out the windshield and I’m trying to see where the leader is and all that kind of stuff.  Just a brave, but good move to thread the needle by the No. 1 car (Jamie McMurray) there.  Just very proud of this race team.  We had a very solid race car all day long. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, everybody on this Lowe’s car and just great teammates to work with out there.  Great Chevy’s to work with and we finished a plate race and I don’t even think there is a scratch on this thing.  I mean that is like a double victory even though we finished eighth.” 

TY DILLON, NO. 13 GEICO CHEVROLET SS – Finished 12TH "Well, it was an intense 500-mile race but I think our GEICO Chevy ran well. It was tough to find cars to stay with us today, but we were able to move our way into the top ten on a couple occasions and even get out front to lead a few GEICO 500 laps. The car was a little tight, but overall it was a strong day for this Germain Racing team."

DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS – Finished 22nd

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM YOU HAD THERE AT THE END?

“Oh, I had a wheel come off. The guys said it was real similar to the issue we had at Atlanta. But, it was pretty bad. We were about to wreck. And we were lucky to get to pit road and get it changed. The left rear tire come loose. We didn’t change it on the last stop but the glue build-up on the stud didn’t allow them to get the tire tight and it just kind of worked its way loose. We only had one nut tight when we come down pit road. It was real close to coming off. I hated it because we were right there in good position to get a great finish; if not win the race and I had to bail out. That was a hard decision to make. But, knowing what I know now when we come down pit road and they saw the tire, I’m glad I did because it wouldn’t have made it another lap or two.”

OTHER THAN THE BIG WRECK, IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS A LOT OF GOOD RACING OUT THERE

“Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of some of the things the cars do and how they react to one another. We just kind of get stuck side-by-side too easy, so it’s harder to make passes and create passes. When they changed the engine a couple of years ago, it changed the way the draft worked and I haven’t really liked it as well. But obviously we had a great year in 2015. We ran really good. But, when they changed the motor after that, it took a lot of the speed out of the cars as far as how they create runs and maintain runs and how you can put together passes and do things on the track. Now, everybody is just stuck side-by-side. If you ain’t in the first or second row, you really are just kind of riding behind them guys with nowhere really, to go. You can’t do much about it because the cars don’t create the runs like they used to. I’d change a few things if I was the king of this deal. But, as long as the fans enjoyed the show, we’ll keep going down the road with what we’ve got.”

HOW FRUSTRATED IS WALKING AWAY FROM THIS ONE TODAY? YOU’RE SAFE. YOU HAD A GOOD RUN. BUT, THAT’S PRETTY FRUSTRATING WHAT HAPPENED
“Yeah, it was very disappointing. But, the wheel was coming off and I felt something in the caution. I thought I had a flat tire. But, (Jamie) McMurray said the tires were fine. Something just wasn’t right. And, I’m glad I got out of there when I did because we only had one lug left on it and it was going to come off in the race. It wouldn’t have made it to the end. And that would have been pretty catastrophic. So, it was a good choice to come down; I was hoping we were going to be able to rebound and gain a couple of spots, but we just didn’t get in the right lane and our car wasn’t very good in the pack. In traffic, it wasn’t very good at all. We didn’t run many laps inside the Top 5 or Top 10 all day because the car just really didn’t have a lot of speed doubled-up with everybody side-by-side. We’ve just got to try to work on that if we can. The car runs great by itself. But anytime we got a bit close to the front, those guys around me were just a little stronger to do things to put us in some bad spots and drop us back to the back. It happened time and time again. We’ll just have to see what we’re doing with the car and what we can improve.”

Results

PosNo.DriverManuBehindDeltaLapsLedBest Speed
117Ricky Stenhouse JrFordLeaderLeader19114200.507
21Jamie McMurrayChevy0.0950.0951910198.978
318Kyle BuschToyota0.0990.00419148197.305
443Aric AlmirolaFord0.1820.0831910198.232
55Kasey KahneChevy0.2040.0221910197.970
641Kurt BuschFord0.2160.0121910198.491
72Brad KeselowskiFord0.2950.07919131198.281
848Jimmie JohnsonChevy0.3150.0201913198.565
927Paul MenardChevy0.3300.0151911197.557
1038David RaganFord0.4020.0721910199.081
1111Denny HamlinToyota0.4150.01319143196.980
1242Kyle LarsonChevy0.4850.0701910198.244
1313Ty Dillon Chevy0.483-0.0021913198.466
1414Clint BowyerFord0.5380.05519110198.986
1537Chris BuescherChevy0.5440.0061910197.770
1672Cole WhittChevy0.5650.0211910197.350
177Elliott SadlerChevy0.6100.0451912198.359
1832Matt DiBenedettoFord0.6150.0051910197.999
1919Daniel SuarezToyota0.6470.0321910198.035
2023Gray Gaulding Toyota0.7420.0951910197.733
2115Joey GaseChevy0.7690.0271910196.266
2288Dale Earnhardt JrChevy0.8780.1091910198.479
234Kevin HarvickFord6.4055.52719115199.069
2420Matt KensethToyota-1.000-7.4051904198.417
2531Ryan NewmanChevy-6.000-5.0001852198.031
2675Brendan GaughanChevy-8.000-2.0001830197.966
2783Corey LaJoie Toyota-8.0000.0001830196.419
2833Jeffrey EarnhardtChevy-17.000-9.0001740194.923
2934Landon CassillFord-18.000-1.0001730198.433
3024Chase ElliottChevy-23.000-5.0001680198.462
3147AJ AllmendingerChevy-23.0000.0001680198.396
3222Joey LoganoFord-23.0000.00016810199.305
3377Erik Jones Toyota-23.0000.0001680197.021
3495Michael McDowellChevy-23.0000.0001680198.635
3578Martin Truex JrToyota-23.0000.0001680197.163
363Austin DillonChevy-23.0000.0001680198.388
376Trevor BayneFord-23.0000.0001685199.396
3810Danica PatrickFord-23.0000.0001680198.998
3921Ryan BlaneyFord-31.000-8.0001600198.277
4055Reed SorensonToyota-119.000-88.000720194.880

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