By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
*Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season for 24 drivers. We will release one driver preview per day over a 24-day stretch.
Years in Cup: 5
Career Wins: 0
Biggest Accomplishment: Two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion (2011, 2012)
Entering the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, several drivers are looking to turn their luck around. One of those drivers is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
In 2017 Stenhouse is entering his fifth full-time season at the top level in NASCAR. Both Stenhouse and Roush Fenway Racing will see several changes in the 2017 season. With the departure of Greg Biffle, Stenhouse becomes the veteran driver at Roush Fenway.
Stenhouse will also have a new crew chief, Brian Pattie on top of the pit box of the No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion. Other changes for both Roush Fenway and Stenhouse include the departure of Zest as a sponsor and the downsizing from three cars to two cars.
Along with Fastenal, both Fifth Third Bank and SunnyD are expected to return as sponsors. As of the writing of this preview, Stenhouse currently has sponsorship for about 24 races of the 2017 season.
Trevor Bayne also returns as Stenhouse’s teammate in the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion.
Looking back at the 2016 season, Stenhouse saw an uptick in his performance on track. He scored four top fives, bringing his career total up to seven top fives. Stenhouse’s top fives came at Auto Club Speedway, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and the Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway. Stenhouse also added six Top 10s in 2016 to bring his career total to 17.
Despite the imrpoved performance at several track Stenhouse finished 21st in the points standings in 2016. This was his best finish in points since his rookie season in 2013 when he finished 19th in points.
The last time that Roush Fenway Racing visited victory lane was in 2014 when Carl Edwards beat Jeff Gordon to the line by just over half a second at Sonoma Raceway.
With the downsizing of Roush Fenway, combined with the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to the Ford Performance line-up, better results may just be on the horizon for Stenhouse.
Other 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver Previews