Stenhouse Jr. Breaks Through at Talladega

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

"This is cool, closest track to my home town and man, the fans were here this weekend." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Stenhouse Jr. got by Kyle Busch on the final lap in overtime and held off the field in the race to the checkered flag to score the win.

Ryan Newman’s accident late set up the extra laps and Busch had the top spot heading into overtime. But Stenhouse Jr. got drafting help from Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray to propel into the lead and out race everyone to the finish line.

“We’ve been terrible for a long time, but this year, every race, we’re getting better and better,” Stenhouse said. “This car was so fast today, qualifying on the pole, get the win. It’s cool to have Jack Roush back in victory lane. This is cool, closest track to my home town and man, the fans were here this weekend.”

Stenhosue Jr. earned the victory in his 158th career NASCAR Cup start and becomes the 11th first-time winner at Talladega. The win broke Roush Fenway Racing’s 101-race winless streak.

McMurray finished second and Busch (Read More) was forced to settle for third.

“Stenhouse got a real good run and good push and got by us and then it was about retaliation, to get back on him,” he said.. “I just never had enough help from behind. … We did all we could today. Unfortunately, circumstances didn’t go our way.”

Aric Almirola (See Also: No. 43 Fails Post-Race Inspection) and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five.

Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Johnson, Paul Menard and David Ragan completed the first 10 finishers.

Stenhouse Jr. led  twice for 14 laps including a last lap pass.

Keselowski and Denny Hamlin won the opening two stages.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Kansas Speedway next Saturday night for the Go Bowling 400.

How Stenhouse Jr. Won: He started from the pole and was fast all day consistently running near the front of the field. But as is the nature of Talladega, restrictor plate racing and drafting it was a see saw afternoon for Stenhouse Jr. But on the overtime restart he set sail for then leader Kyle Busch and as the field raced down the backstretch, a push from both Johnson and McMurray was enough to send Stenhouse Jr. to Victory Lane.

Who Had a Good Day: McMurray scored his best finish of 2017 and sixth top-10 of the season…Despite the disappointment Kyle Busch ended a three race streak of finishes outside the top-10…Almirola followed up his Saturday XFINITY Series win by matching his best finish of the season that he scored in Daytona.

Who Had a Bad Day: Ryan Blaney had another good restrictor plate race effort going but he got bumped from behind by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when they checked up for a slower car and the Wood Brothers Racing driver crashed hard into the outside wall…The day’s “Big One” came with 20 laps to go and was triggered when AJ Allmendinger made contact with Chase Elliott and before it was over Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon and others were involved in an accident that brought out a red flag for clean-up (Read More)…Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in contention for a win until late when he had a wheel problem that forced him to pit road and took him out of the lead draft. He ended up 22nd. (Read More)

What Else Happened: There was the usual intense racing throughout the afternoon on what by Talladega standards was a somewhat quiet afternoon in terms of accidents. While there was a multi-car accident with 20 laps to go that involved 16 cars, other incidents were of the single car variety. That left many laps of side-by-side racing with three and four wide the order of the day over the course of the 500 miles.

Quotable: “That’s superspeedway racing,” Logano after the multi-car accident with 20 laps to go.

Notable: It was Ford’s fifth win of the season…Stenhouse Jr. was the 46th different driver to win at Talladega…It was the 24th last lap pass at Talladega.

 

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