Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started from the pole and captured his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series career win at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. The Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) driver restarted on the inside of the front row for the final green-white-checkered finish. Stenhouse was able to hold off a last lap charge by Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch to earn his spot in the playoffs.
“This is for all the guys at the shop. We’ve been terrible for a long time. This year, every race we’re getting better and better. We knew that Talladega was a good race track for us. It’s been a good one in the past and I’m just glad we parked it for my buddy, Bryan Clauson. He was with us on that last lap. This Fifth Third Bank Ford was so fast today – qualified on the pole and got the win. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s cool to have Jack Roush back in Victory Lane, Ford Performance, Fastenal, Sunny D. I’m gonna have a Sunny D in the morning, maybe a little later. This is cool. The closest race track to my hometown and the fans were out here this weekend.”
Kyle Busch led a race-high 48 laps and was the highest-finishing Camry in third place.
“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.”
The GEICO 500 had eight cautions for 33 laps, 26 lead changes among 14 drivers and was red-flagged for approximately 27 minutes.
Kyle Larson had damage early on and also fought battery issues and finished 12th. Larson continues to lead the series point standings by 54.
“We got the lucky dog late in the race and made a decent day out of it,” Larson said. “I was definitely slower with our body damage so that was a bummer. Everyone worked hard on the car all day. Every time we came down pit road, we had to repair something. So it wasn’t a terrible way to finish the day all things considered.”
Jamie McMurray captured his ninth top 10 finish with his second place finish. McMcurray made a bold move in the final laps of the race to put himself into the second position.
“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.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. started on the front row but was never a factor in the race. Earnhardt Jr. had a loose wheel and finished 22nd.
“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.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway on May 13 at 7 p.m. in a Saturday night battle under the lights in the GoBowling 400.