Stenhouse, Jr., Scores First ARCA RE/MAX Series Win Off Strong Kentucky Speedway Restart
Roush Fenway Racing rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and his No. 99 Ford used a solid restart on Lap 107 of 112 to steal the race lead from Scott Speed and the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota then powered away to their first ARCA RE/MAX Series win in front of 10,273 "Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150" fans at Kentucky Speedway tonight.
Stenhouse, Jr., led the closing six laps before crossing the finish line 0.374 of a second ahead of Speed. The margin marked the third-closest finish in the series 16 Kentucky Speedway races and the second straight May win for the Roush Fenway No. 99 at the track. Current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Erik Darnell took top honors in the car last season.
"We've had good runs the last few weeks, so to finally get a win was just awesome. It was pretty tough. I've never really led a restart in one of these stock cars, and, actually those last few restarts when we were behind him (Speed) were the best restarts I've ever had in a stock car. I'm just trying to get better every week, and learn as much as I can," Stenhouse, Jr., said.
He scored his first series win in his sixth career start and registered his third consecutive top-five finish.
"This is a special win compared to the sprint cars I've won in, and it means the most to me to finally get a win in a stock car. I can't say enough about this Ford Fusion and the Roush Yates Engines, they really ran down the straightaways tonight.
"There's a lot of competition here, and a lot of good cars in the ARCA/REMAX Series, but it's getting better and better for us every week. It was another good night for points for us, and we're just going to try to keep the momentum up going to Toledo. I'm just glad we got this one, and hopefully there are more to come," he added. Ryan Fischer took third in the No. 25 TufTruckdirect.com/Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet, Ken Butler III wheeled to a fourth-place finish in the No. 22 Aaron's Lucky Dog Dream Machine and John Wes Townley completed the top-five in the No. 09 Zaxby's/SPS/BB&T Ford. The Roush Fenway Racing driver spoiled what looked to Speed's night. Speed seized the race lead on Lap 52 from Jake Francis and his No. 48 Dodge and led until Lap 106 when the solid run was ended by a series of late cautions.
The race restarted at total of four times in the closing 14 laps. Speed managed to hold point on all but the final restart, when his No. 2 experienced mechanical difficulty.
"Our fuel strategy was fine. The only problem was on the original green-white-checker. We got off to a nice little lead, but we broke third gear. So, the rest of the restarts, they kept doing the green-white-checker and the gear was destroyed. It was a challenge. We definitely had a fast car. We should have won," Speed said.
Tonight's results should lead to a shake up in the series standings. Leader Matt Carter closed out the race 29th in his No. 46 Ford and Frank Kimmel, who entered the race second in the standings, placed 13th. Carter entered the race with a 35-point lead over Kimmel. Stenhouse, Jr., was third in the standings and 95 points back at the start of the night.
Kentucky Speedway goes "old school" for the May 24 Frank Kimmel Enduro Nationals II. Sixty-eight drivers made up the largest starting field in Kentucky Speedway history last season and treated fans to five-wide racing at times.
Tickets can be reserved online through the Tickets pages of this Web site, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through Meijer stores and Tickets.com outlets and by visiting the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., next to the Montgomery Inn Restaurant or the Sparta, Ky., Fan Center located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
Story by Mike Schmaltz
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