Things didn’t break Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s way at Kansas Speedway.
But they knew the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate was there.
The race report shows the two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion finishing 11th – which matches his career-best finish, one position away from his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top 10.
But it also notes that the Mississippi competitor qualified his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford third and led twice for 26 laps. Before being bitten by the race strategy bug late in the race, it appeared Stenhouse could be visiting his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory Lane to become the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner since Joey Logano accomplished the feat at New Hampshire in 2009.
“We are coming off a weekend where we led laps and ran near the front so we need to carry that momentum into this weekend,” Stenhouse said. “We keep getting closer to the top 10 each week, so hopefully we can get our first top 10 this weekend.”
Stenhouse never has competed in a Sprint Cup race at the 0.75-mile track. But he has plenty of experience there in Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series Fords. He logged four top-five finishes in six Richmond starts. He won the pole and finished second in last September’s event.
“Richmond is the typical short track racing, which is a lot of fun,” said Stenhouse, who finished 16th at Bristol and 25th at Martinsville in the season’s two previous short track races.
Stenhouse ranks second in Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings two points behind Danica Patrick, who likewise will be making her first Sprint Cup start in Richmond. Stenhouse is 18th in overall Sprint Cup points; Patrick 25th.