The Commercial Appeal
Stenhouse, JTG savor breakout win
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – One victory in 28 years was all tiny JTG Daugherty Racing had to show for the time, sweat and money – so much money – the team had poured into trying to build a winning NASCAR organization.
The team owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter, as well as former NBA player Brad Daugherty, entered Season 29 still committed to a driver stuck in a losing streak that stretched nearly six years.
But they believed in Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and so did the sponsors on the No. 47 Chevrolet, which includes grocery chain Kroger, a JTG partner for more than a decade.
The trick was rebuilding Stenhouse's confidence and returning him to the level of driver who won a pair of Xfinity Series championships at the start of his NASCAR career.
Would a Daytona 500 win do the trick?
Stenhouse scored just the third Cup victory of his career by winning the longest Daytona 500 in history.
He won Sunday night in double overtime, under caution, to snap a losing streak that spanned 2,060 days and 199 races.
He did it with crew chief Mike Kelley, who took over leading the team during the offseason, in a reunion for the pair. Kelley was Stenhouse's crew chief at Roush Fenway Racing for his Xfinity titles and spent one season as his Cup crew chief before stepping back into a support role the last seven seasons.
Kelley's return to the top has been stabilizing for Stenhouse.
“Not winning since 2017, having struggles, ups and downs, to have somebody like Mike, who when he took over the reins as soon as the season was over, it was: ‘Hey, I know you can still get this done. We've just got to give you the right opportunities. We know if we give