Tag Archives: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Shame on the NASCAR Teams for Gaming Qualifying

Qualifying for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was always going to be different. NASCAR announced well over a month ago that during the first round of qualifying the cars would be split into two separate groups with 12 cars moving on from each to the second round. Some teams overthought their strategy such that two higher level full time teams did not qualify and will therefore miss the race.

In the first group of the first round of qualifying, the drivers waited most of the round to go out and make their laps. The thought was that the first cars out did not have a chance of posting a fast lap as the cars behind would get the benefit of the draft and post a much faster time. As they say, it looks good on paper.

Denny Hamlin didn’t buy into it and went out by himself. He posted a slow lap but eventually got some benefit of the draft in order to improve but still paid the price for going it alone and was the slowest of that group.

In the second group of the first round of qualifying, Tony Stewart and Reed Sorensen did exactly what Denny Hamlin did in the first group. They went out alone and also paid the price by posting the slowest laps of the cars that were up to speed. The rest of the drivers did exactly the same as the first group, except they waited too long. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did not make it to the line in time to take the flag on their up to speed lap. The official time for those drivers was that taken during a warm up lap.

So what exactly happened? There are six spots in the field reserved for those cars highest in owners points that have not qualified for the race on their speed (time). The 43rd and final spot is reserved for the most current champion that has not qualified for the race on their speed (time).  With so many great cars not posting a competitive time and so many cars that needed to make the race actually posting a time there was in a sense “No room at the Inn”. Justin Allgaier, 29th in points; and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 27th in points, were out.

Jeff Gordon will start last as he was the slowest of the drivers who are in the race by owner points. Although it would look like he used his past champion provisional, he did not need it since it was his spot if he didn’t use it.

In the end Reed Sorenson was the last to make it into the field on time since Joe Nemecheck was disqualified due to unapproved openings around the oil tank. Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick—the drivers who were the slowest of those who actually took full speed laps—took the first three provisionals. Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Jeff Gordon took the last four provisionals.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, and Joe Nemecheck will miss the race.

Shame on these teams “gaming” the system in order to get an edge in qualifying. We as fans wanted to see cars running around the track nose to tail trying to get a fast speed to make the race. Instead we saw cars sitting on pit road waiting for the last two minutes then going on the track. It was stupid and looked even more so.

The silly part is if it takes about two minutes to get up to speed and make a fast lap why wait for the last two minutes? If all the drivers had gone right at the beginning and run nose to tail only the truly slow cars would have gone home.

Oh and by the way, Brian Vickers won the Coors Light Pole Award—not that qualifying at a superspeedway is important; unless of course you don’t.

If you cannot get to Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500 it will be broadcast live on ESPN on Sunday, October 19th 2014 starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 302428 Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

Pos Car Driver Team Speed
1 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 196.129
2 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet 195.732
3 47 AJ Allmendinger Scott Products Chevrolet 195.496
4 12 Ryan Blaney(i) SKF Ford 194.015
5 2 Brad Keselowski Redd’s Wicked Apple Ale Ford 194.007
6 95 Michael McDowell Jordan Truck Sales Ford 193.693
7 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe’s Autos Chevrolet 193.603
8 5 Kasey Kahne Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet 193.498
9 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford 193.431
10 7 Michael Annett # Golden Corral Chevrolet 193.162
11 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 191.302
12 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 190.981
13 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot Toyota 193.415
14 23 Alex Bowman # Dustless Blasting Toyota 193.376
15 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 193.291
16 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 192.401
17 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 192.278
18 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 192.096
19 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 191.908
20 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 191.773
21 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 190.985
22 26 Cole Whitt # Bad Boy Mowers Toyota 190.97
23 49 Mike Wallace(i) Royal Teak Collection Toyota 184.729
24 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 191.577
25 34 David Ragan Dockside Logistics Ford 191.42
26 9 Marcos Ambrose Black & Decker Ford 191.214
27 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet 191.149
28 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet 191.134
29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Carsforsale.com Chevrolet 191.13
30 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 191.027
31 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet 190.818
32 83 JJ Yeley(i) Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota 190.689
33 15 Clint Bowyer PinkLemonade5HrEnergybnftLBBC Toyota 190.681
34 66 Michael Waltrip MyAFibStory.com Toyota 190.586
35 98 Josh Wise Dogecoin/Reddit.com Ford 190.507
36 36 Reed Sorenson Zing Zang Chevrolet 189.305
37 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
38 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx One Rate/Deliverminator Toyota
39 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
40 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
41 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Halloween Toyota
42 42 Kyle Larson # Energizer Chevrolet
43 24 Jeff Gordon Axalta Chevrolet
DNQ 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
DNQ 51 Justin Allgaier #
DNQ 29 Joe Nemechek(i).

 

Kyle Busch will start the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Up Front

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway is Sunday, September 14th. Kyle Busch will start the race at the pole putting himself and his team in a great position to start the Challenger Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The Sprint Cup Series had one practice at Chicagoland Speedway before qualifying for MyAFibStory.com 400. A few hours after practice rain came to the speedway washing out Camping World Truck Series Qualifying and the last Nationwide Series practice. Unfortunately it stuck around to wash out Cup Qualifying. The starting order will be set by the NASCAR Rule Book.

Kyle Busch led the first and only Sprint Cup Series practice with a speed of 191.442. He beat Ryan Newman by six hundredths of a second. They will share the front row for Sunday’s race. Carl Edwards will start right behind them. All three of them are starting in a great position for the first race in the Challenger Round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Most of the top teams spent practice in qualifying trim expecting rain to wash out qualifying. Though Kyle Bush didn’t specifically state it, it appears that he did. They all wanted to start up front but more importantly get the best pit stalls in order to make their race the best it can be.

Busch said, “Having a good time there in practice means a lot, but there’s obviously a lot of things that need to happen in the race this weekend for us and getting off to a good start and being able to carry that into the next 10 weeks.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start fourth followed by Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson. Larson is the highest qualifying rookie.

There will be two practices on Saturday in much different conditions today so the drivers and teams will have ample time to adjust their cars from the qualifying set up of today.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the MyAFibStory.com 400 it will be broadcast on ESPN, on Sunday September 14th starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 301507 Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

Roush Fenway Racing Gets the Elephant Out of the Room

Last week, just before the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis—the second biggest race on the NASCAR schedule—Roush Fenway Racing announced its driver line up for 2015. Carl Edwards will not be a part of that driver line up, but Greg Biffle will be back. The other drivers will be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

At the time and several days later the timing of the announcement was questioned. With a little over two hours before the race, it was a time when prerace appearances were starting and a time when prerace sponsors’ parties were starting. Not really an opportune time to announce a top driver leaving an organization, or was it?

Carl Edwards has won a race and will most likely be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Greg Biffle has not won a race and he is not in the top 16 in points to make the Chase. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway’s third driver, is similarly out. They have been struggling as a three car team. If something doesn’t change, Edwards will not win the Championship and the others will have no way of making the Chase.

We can imagine that plans must be made so that the team not only succeeds this season, but next season as well. It can be imagined that at those parties in Indianapolis, people would be asking: what will happen next year?  When putting that context into it, it is surprising that Jack Roush didn’t make an announcement earlier.

Just this week another team made a similar early announcement in order to keep their program going in the right direction. It has been known for some time that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be losing his crew chief Steve Letarte at the end of the season. What has not been known is who would replace him, in this case Greg Ives. Dale Earnhardt Jr. summed it up best. ”I just didn’t want to have to sit there in limbo.  I don’t like being in limbo about nothing and having any kind of stuff up in the air.”

Those same thoughts had to be running around the whole team at Roush Fenway Racing.

The only hope Roush Fenway has for this season and making next season stronger was to usher the elephant out of the room and move on. This elephant was only going to get exponentially bigger each week until the race at Richmond. This is a distraction that is not good for race teams working hard to get better and win a Championship.

Now that elephant is on Joe Gibbs Racing’s back. Jack Roush is a pretty smart guy.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 300250 Elsa/Getty Images

 

It’s Talladega; it must be Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last week NASCAR was at Richmond International Raceway where we had tire wear and tempers flare. This week we may have much of the same but it will be different. This Week NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt Jr. return to Talladega Superspeedway.

Talladega is really a special racetrack to the sport with the history of it and how it was conceived. The track eventually turned into one of the most impressive and unique, concerning speed, and how the style of racing that you have is so unique, it’s just amazing what it has been able to deliver year after year.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. added “I enjoy going to Talladega, and I remember it was one of my favorites as a kid. When I was young, out of all the tracks that I had the chance to go to, this was definitely one of my favorites to come to. Milling around in the garage during the race and just how big the place was and the cars looked different because of the superspeedway bodies — it was just a really fun experience for me.

The Talladega Superspeedway is the biggest oval track that NASCAR goes to. It is a high banked superspeedway where the speeds are so high the cars need restrictor plates on the engines in order to keep them from going air borne. Sometime that doesn’t help and the cars go flying, that is what makes this race exciting.  There is 33 degrees of banking in the corners but more importantly 16.5 degrees of banking on the front stretch. The start finish line is at the end of the front stretch leading to some of the most dramatic finishes in NASCAR. The race is 188 laps or 500 miles.

This year at Daytona International Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was slicing and dicing his way from the front to the back to the front like it was 2004. He seemed to know which lane was the fastest and in an instant would change to that lane. He was so good at doing this that at times one would wonder is he in the fastest lane or is his lane the fastest because he is in it.

Each and every week we look at the driver ratings to see which driver is good. This week we are at Talladega and that is kind of true but where at one track a rating of 120 represents domination, Matt Kenseth rating of 91.6 only says he races up front a lot. Note Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a higher rating at 94.7 but that is because it represents only two races not 12 like Kenseth’s.  Dale Earnhardt Jr’s rating is 91.5, right behind Kenseth.

Since driver ratings don’t matter much here we look to who has sealed the deal and won. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the master. From 2001 to 2004 he had five wins and two second place finishes. To say he owned the place is an understatement. This year he is driving like 2004 when he last won. That is why Dale Earnhardt Jr. will win the Aarons 499.

If you cannot get to Talladega Superspeedway for the Aarons 499 it will be broadcast on FOX Sunday, May 4th starting at 12 PM ET.

In addition this is the first superspeedway that NASCAR has visited since the new knock out qualifying format was added. Will the teams pair up and draft in order to get their drivers to the front? Will the smaller teams work together and draft in order to make the race. This qualifying is set to be the most exciting yet. It is expected to be so exciting that qualifying was moved to FOX, Saturday May 3rd at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 291384 John Harrelson/Getty Images

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Talladega
Ricky Stenhouse Jr………………… 94.7
Matt Kenseth………………………… 91.6
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 91.5
Kurt Busch……………………………. 87.4
Brian Vickers………………………… 87.3
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 85.1
Brad Keselowski……………………. 84.4
David Ragan…………………………. 84.2
Aric Almirola…………………………. 87.3
Jamie McMurray…………………….. 83.3
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Talladega Superspeedway.

Ford Celebrates the 50th. Anniversary of the Mustang

On Thursday, April 15th, 2014 Ford will celebrate 50 years of the Mustang. In honor of the occasion Edsel B. Ford II and NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, and David Ragan reflected on how a Ford Mustang came into their lives.

The story wouldn’t surprise anyone. What would the son of a Ford get for Christmas when he was 16? What else, a 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback.

My favorite Mustang memory, certainly like many others, is the day I got my first Mustang.“, said Ford.

Like the rest of us car buffs, Edsel’s dad Henry Ford II didn’t give him just any Mustang. His was customized. It had a special paint scheme in a pearlescent white finish with slim blue racing stripes over the top and the rocker panels.

It also had a functional hood scoop, chrome trip on the three grilles in the head lamp buckets, and fender-mounted rearview mirrors similar to the Mustangs sold in Europe. His father added one last special change, the rear fuel filler cap which normally had the pony logo on it had his initials “EBFII”.

The coolest part about Edsel’s special Mustang is that he drove it. It didn’t sit in a show room.

That car was special for sure.” Edsel added, “I drove it through high school and then one summer afternoon on Long Island I let a friend borrow it.  He was driving the car home, lost control and rolled it in a potato field near our house.  My beautiful Mustang was destroyed.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the car was totaled.

It is not surprising that some of the current Ford Racing NASCAR drivers have a Mustang or Mustang memory.

Greg Biffle bought a 2007 Mustang GT 500. Just like the rest of us he couldn’t just leave it the way he received it.

I bought it because I really wanted one bad.” Biffle added, “I started doing modifications to it. I changed the blower pulleys and did all sorts of stuff. I have had a ton of fun with it.

Ford Mustang’s run in Carl Edwards blood. He got his when he was 19. It was a 1985 Mustang GT with T-tops.

Edwards said, “We put a clutch in it. My dad and a guy named Bobby Williams and I worked on it and painted it and my buddy Ray Owen helped me work on it and he was a big Mustang guy.

The Ford Mustang has made quite a splash when it returned to racing in 2010 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It isn’t surprising that some of the other drivers memories surround their success with the Mustang in that series.

Brad Keselowski said, “My favorite Mustang story is when the Nationwide Series went to the Mustang and we went to Michigan and the Mustangs were there and they were the first cars to have the decals on the side that made it look like the production car. That was really cool.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill/Sam's Club Ford Mustang, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 20, 2012 Photo Credit: 274466 Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Cargill/Sam’s Club Ford Mustang, pits during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 20, 2012 Photo Credit: 274466 Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

The 2011 and 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion was won by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. driving a Ford Mustang.

When I was growing up though, my Dad, he builds engines for a living and a friend of his had a Mustang Mach 1.” Stenhouse Jr. added, “I was young, about seven or eight, so I don’t remember the exact year of the car. I believe it was a 1969 though. He took me for a ride in it one day and we got sideways. We were staring right at the back of a big truck and right at the last second he turned it and we spun around the other way and kept going. That was so much fun. I loved it. That was probably when I fell in love with Mustang.

Joey Logano got his first win for Roger Penske in a Ford Mustang but he doesn’t have one of his own yet.

Logano said, “I need to get a Mustang to add to my stable of cars for sure. I love the old Mustang Mach 1 series. Those cars are just iconic.

Somehow a Ford Mustang just draws a teenage boy. Aric Almirola is no exception.

Almirola said, “A memory that sticks out to me about Mustang is that I had a friend in high school that had a Cobra Mustang. I was driving a race car at the time in high school and he said he wanted to see what his car would do with a race car driver driving it. So my buddy in high school let me drive his Cobra and we put black marks around the street of our high school everywhere. I mean everywhere. That was a lot of fun.

David Ragan happens to be a lifelong Ford fan. It isn’t surprising that there were many Ford Mustangs in his life. Even those that weren’t as sexy or fast.

I grew up with my dad or uncle having some project Mustang cars around.” Ragan added, “We never really had new, fast Mustangs. They were always the mid-60’s. They really liked the mid-year cars.

In the last 50 years the Ford Mustang has touched just about everyone. What is your Mustang Memory? Please take a few minutes and tell us about it in the comment section.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit Ford Media