Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 12th in the season-opening Daytona 500, a result that would come to define his consistent rookie season. Stenhouse, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings leader, continued to hammer away at the top 15 and top 20.
Still, a win – and a top-10 finish – await. And if he gets it this Sunday during NASCAR’s longest race, he’ll join an exclusive and illustrious list of drivers who earned their first win in the Coca-Cola 600.
That list includes David Pearson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears and David Reutimann. Four of those drivers – Pearson, Gordon, Kenseth and Labonte – went on to win NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships later in their respective careers.
Stenhouse leads the rookie standings by one point over Danica Patrick, who looks to become the first female driver to score a top-10 finish in the Coca-Cola 600.
Patrick ran last year’s 600, finishing 30th. She became the second female to race in the Coca-Cola 600, joining Janet Guthrie, who accomplished the feat in 1976 (she finished 15th). Guthrie finished ninth at Charlotte’s 500-mile race in 1977.