Sten­house races to sec­ond vic­tory

FRR’s Truex fin­ishes 34th after wreck

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Jenna Fryer

DAY­TONA BEACH, FLA.» Ricky Sten­house Jr. raced to his sec­ond vic­tory of the sea­son — and sec­ond on a re­stric­tor-plate track — Satur­day night at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way.

Sten­house picked up his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in May at Tal­ladega. Just like last time, girl­friend Dan­ica Pa­trick was there to greet him in Vic­tory Lane — she had wrecked out shortly be­fore and was the first per­son at his car win­dow when he pulled in to cel­e­brate.

“It val­i­dates what we did in Tal­ladega,” Sten­house said.

He earned this one for Roush Fen­way Rac­ing in a two-lap over­time sprint when leader David Ra­gan tried to block the field and lost mo­men­tum. Sten­house squirted by and held on for the vic­tory. He did it in a new car, too, be­cause he wasn’t giv­ing back the Ford he drove at Tal­ladega to his first career Cup vic­tory.

“I kept my Tal­ladega car and told them to build a new one,” he said. “I have been com­ing here since 2008. I ac­tu­ally came in 2006 one time with Bobby Hamil­ton Jr. and it is cool to put it in vic­tory lane and get our sec­ond win this year.”

Clint Bowyer was sec­ond for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week.

“This brides­maid thing (stinks),” Bowyer said. “But sec­ond is bet­ter than third.”

Bowyer gave Ford Per­for­mance a 1-2 fin­ish for the man­u­fac­turer and en­gine builder Doug Yates.

Paul Me­nard was third, fol­lowed by Michael McDow­ell, Ryan Newman and Ra­gan.

Bren­dan Gaughan, AJ All­mendinger, Erik Jones and Chris Buescher rounded out a bizarre top 10. Many of the top con­tenders were knocked out in ac­ci­dents — in­clud­ing Pa­trick, was seen kick­ing her car in frus­tra­tion. She also was out of the race and in street clothes when Sten­house won at Tal­ladega.

The race had hit full in­ten­sity in the fi­nal 10 laps with series points leader Kyle Lar­son slic­ing his way back into con­tention. He was chas­ing Ty Dil­lon for the lead with seven laps re­main­ing when he moved up a lane to block Sten­house.

There wasn’t enough room for Lar­son’s car in front of Sten­house, and the con­tact turned Lar­son to­ward the wall and lifted his car off the track. It trig­gered an eight-car ac­ci­dent that col­lected Day­tona 500 win­ner Kurt Busch and whit­tled down the field to just a hand­ful of con­tenders.

NASCAR red-flagged the race to clean the dam­age, and went back to yel­low after a stop­page of nearly nine min­utes.

Dil­lon was out front as the leader, fol­lowed by Ra­gan, All­mendinger and Sten­house, who de­spite driv­ing un­der Lar­son’s air­borne car, seemed to come out un­scathed and restarted fourth.

Ra­gan got a good push from All­mendinger on the restart, but a spin by Denny Ham­lin and Jones brought out the cau­tion to send the race into over­time. That’s when Sten­house got his chance.

Jones, of Den­ver-based Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing, fin­ished ninth; team­mate Martin Truex Jr. fin­ished 34th.

The race had been billed as the fi­nal at Day­tona for Dale Earn­hardt Jr., who is re­tir­ing at the end of the sea­son. But he opens the door wider and wider ev­ery time he speaks about rac­ing in the fu­ture, and win­ning the pole for Satur­day night made him el­i­gi­ble for an ex­hi­bi­tion race next Fe­bru­ary.

It set the stage for what felt like an Earn­hardt kind of night, but he was forced into the wall rid­ing in traf­fic early in the sec­ond stage and it seemed to end the feel-good story.

But Earn­hardt worked his way back in­side the top 10 and was sixth and push­ing hard, de­mand­ing on his ra­dio to know who was in front of Kevin Har­vick, when he hooked Har­vick to trig­ger a multi-car crash. Har­vick said he got a flat tire right be­fore the con­tact.

Earn­hardt’s night was over, and he headed to the garage and a 32nd-place fin­ish.

“It’s been a wild night,” Earn­hardt said. “I didn’t an­tic­i­pate this much ac­tion and this much torn up sheet metal.”

Matt Sul­li­van, Getty Images

Ricky Sten­house Jr. cel­e­brates after win­ning the Mon­ster En­ergy Coke Zero 400 at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on Satur­day night.

Joey Logano (22), Kyle Busch (18), Jamie McMur­ray and Martin Truex Jr. (78) get caught up in a wreck on Turn 2 at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on Satur­day night. Truex’s night was over after the crash.

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