Stenhouse scores first career Cup victory with last-lap pass
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used a strong Ford engine to blow past Kyle Busch in overtime at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for his first NASCAR Cup victory.
It was the first victory for Roush Fenway Racing since Carl Edwards at Sonoma in 2014. Stenhouse, who has led a resurgent Roush team, won in his 158th Cup start.
He was greeted in victory lane first by car owner Jack Roush, then girlfriend Danica Patrick, who was in street clothes because she wrecked out of the race earlier.
“We’ve been terrible for a long time, but we’ve been getting better and better every race,” said Stenhouse, who took time to note he “parked it” in victory lane for his late friend, Bryan Clauson.
“It’s good to have Jack Roush back in victory lane. It’s been a long time since I’ve pulled into a victory lane. I had to ask Brad Keselowski how to start a race from the pole because it’s been so long.”
Stenhouse did start from the pole and praised the power from his Doug Yates-built engine for the speed. Then he used that speed to snatch the race away with a last-lap pass of Busch.
The first two stages of the race were calm, and it was the final stretch to the checkered flag that got heated.
The race was stopped for nearly 27 minutes because of an accident that saw AJ Allmendinger’s car flipped on its roof with 19 laps remaining.
NASCAR listed 18 automobiles as sustaining some kind of damage in the accident. STAGE 1 WINNER: Keselowski won the first stage in what seemed to be a Ford rout. He beat fellow Ford driver Stenhouse to win the segment.
Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Patrick, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones rounded out the Top 10.
Stenhouse started from the pole and led 13 laps — the first time he’d led laps all season. STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin gave Toyota its first taste of the front of the field as he won the second stage. It was Hamlin’s first stage win of the season. He was followed by Kevin Harvick, Blaney, Truex, Johnson, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Kahne, Jones and McMurray. UP NEXT: A Saturday night stop at Kansas Speedway. Kyle Busch earned the victory last year.