Stenhouse to make 300th Cup start at Martinsville

Competing in his ninth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is within reach of a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway, the driver of the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE will achieve career start No. 300 in NASCAR’s premier series.

A native of Olive Branch, Mississippi, Stenhouse made his Cup Series debut in May 2011 during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. By then, he was a full-time Xfinity Series competitor for Roush Fenway Racing. Driving the No. 21 Ford Fusion for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team as a substitute competitor for Trevor Bayne, Stenhouse recorded an impressive 11th-place result in his Cup debut.

Returning for four Cup races in 2012 and in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford Fusion, Stenhouse made his first start of the season at Daytona International Speedway in February for the 54th annual running of the Daytona 500. He finished 20th after being involved in a late multi-car wreck. He went on to finish a season-best 12th at Dover International Speedway in September, 35th at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and 39th at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Despite the struggles during his part-time Cup schedule, Stenhouse went on to win the 2012 Xfinity Series championship, which marked his second title in two years after winning his first in 2011.

In 2013, Stenhouse graduated to the Cup Series on a full-time basis and in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 17 Ford Fusion, where he replaced the 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth. Starting with a 12th-place result in the season-opening Daytona 500, Stenhouse captured his first Cup career pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August and a career-best third-place result at Talladega Superspeedway in October. He also earned a total of three top-10 results, an average result of 18.9 and a 19th-place result in the final standings. Above all, he captured the 2013 Cup Rookie-of-the-Year title over Danica Patrick.

Stenhouse opened his sophomore Cup season (2014) on a strong note by finishing seventh in the Daytona 500. Three races later, he notched a career-best second-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway in March behind teammate Carl Edwards. Despite recording a total of five top-10 results throughout the season, Stenhouse did not make the Playoffs and he failed to qualify for the Cup race at Talladega in October. In the end, he concluded his sophomore Cup season in 27th place in the final standings.

Remaining at Roush Fenway Racing for a third full-time Cup season in 2015, Stenhouse earned a season-best fourth place at Bristol in April and a total of three top-10 results. He went on to conclude the season in 25th place in the final standings. By then, he surpassed 100 Cup career starts.

In 2016, Stenhouse managed to earn a career-high four top-five results, including a runner-up result at Bristol in August, and six top-10 results. They were not enough, however, to draw him and his No. 17 Ford team into Playoff contention as the driver concluded the season in 21st place in the final standings.

Through the first nine Cup races of the 2017 season, Stenhouse earned two fourth-place results and was ranked in 15th place in the regular-season standings. The following race at Talladega, he earned his second Cup career pole. Stenhouse then went on to lead 14 laps and fend off a late battle against names like Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson in overtime to capture his first Cup career win in his 158th series start. By then, Stenhouse became the 11th different competitor to win a first Cup race at Talladega and he recorded the first victory for Roush Fenway Racing since June 2014.

Seven races later, Stenhouse prevailed on another overtime shootout by overtaking David Ragan on the penultimate lap and fending off the field for a final circuit to collect his second Cup career victory in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in July. Despite not recording another top-10 result for the remaining nine regular-season events, Stenhouse’s superspeedway victories at Daytona and Talladega were enough for him to earn a Playoff spot for the first time in his career.

In the Playoff’s Round of 16, Stenhouse finished 25th, 15th and 19th, which were enough for him to advance to the Round of 12 by a slim margin. After finishing 13th, 26th and 29th in the Round of 12, however, he was eliminated from title contention. Despite the midway exit, Stenhouse went on to conclude the season in a career-best 13th place in the standings and in a season where he won his first two Cup career races and earned a pole, four top-five results, nine top-10 results and an average result of 17.1 (his overall best from a full-time Cup season).

The following two seasons, Stenhouse recorded a total of four top-five results and eight top-10 results along with a career-best 133 total laps led in 2018. He did not, however, make the Playoffs in both seasons, finishing 18th in the final standings in 2018 and 23rd in 2019. By then, he also surpassed 200 Cup career starts.

After five full-time seasons with Roush Fenway Racing, Stenhouse was replaced by Chris Buescher for the 2020 season. Not long after, though, Stenhouse joined JTG-Daugherty Racing to drive the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the upcoming season.

In his first run with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Stenhouse captured the pole position for the Daytona 500, which marked his third Cup career pole and third overall for the team. During the main event, however, Stenhouse, who led 24 laps, finished 20th after being involved in a late on-track incident while trying to enter pit road for a green flag pit stop. He rebounded the following race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by finishing third following a late shootout to the finish. Stenhouse went on to finish fourth at Charlotte in May and a close second-place result at Talladega in June. The results, which included three top-five results and four top-10 results, were not enough for Stenhouse and the No. 47 Chevrolet team to qualify for the Playoffs as the driver concluded the season in 24th place in the final standings.

Stenhouse is coming off a strong runner-up result at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Course and he is ranked in 14th place in the regular-season standings through the first seven Cup events of the 2021 season.

Through 299 previous Cup starts, Stenhouse has achieved two career victories, three poles, 19 top-five results, 39 top-10 results and an average result of 20.4.

Stenhouse is slated to make his 300th Cup career start at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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