Comeback for Stenhouse Jr.

NASCAR

Stenhouse fought his way back into the front half of the field all afternoon and came home with a 15th-place finish to keep his playoff hopes of advancing alive. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. battled back from early adversity in Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Stenhouse Jr. got into the wall early in Sunday’s race, a start that was eerily similar to his opening playoff race outing last week at Chicagoland Speedway.

But the Roush Fenway Racing driver, who lost a lap while running 23rd on lap 135, fought his way back into the front half of the field all afternoon and came home with a 15th-place finish to keep his playoff hopes of advancing alive.

“It was a struggle for us all weekend,” said Stenhouse, who took the wave around on lap 264. “I told my guys I felt like we were in a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather all week.  We just couldn’t find speed, couldn’t find the handle on the car.  We made a lot of adjustments for today and was surprisingly a little bit better than we were in practice.  I didn’t think we were as capable of a car to finish where we did, but we did what we needed and had some good breaks and some good pit stops and ended up gaining some points.

“That was our goal, so I feel really good about that.  I’d say we’ve had two sub-par weeks and we’re still in this thing, so we’ll regroup and get focused and go to Dover.”

The effort gives Stenhouse Jr. and his team confidence going into next week’s Dover race to move on to the second round of the playoffs.

“It makes you feel good,” he said.  “We needed to make up a little bit and made up a little bit at a track that I didn’t think we were that great at all weekend.  We were fast at Dover, but we did blow a right-front at Dover, so we have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes – bring another fast car like we did last time and see if we can gain a few more.”

Stenhouse holds the 12th spot in the playoff grid going to Dover.

 

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