By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
It’s a must-win situation for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. if he wants to make the playoffs after a heavy crash ended his race in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
On Lap 136, the fourth caution came out when Stenhouse’s left front tire blew up and smacked the backstretch wall, destroying the right side of his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang and will be credited with a 36th place result.
The direct cause of Stenhouse’s issues was contact with Erik Jones heading into Turn 4 laps prior. It further diminished his already miserable race weekend and his third DNF of 2019 does no wonders for a bid of making the playoffs.
Stenhouse came to Loudon 19th in points, 47 points behind 16th place Jones and no doubt will take an even steeper hit in the points.
“The 20 ran over us and cut our left-front, I guess,” said Stenhouse. “We were just struggling with our Fastenal Ford. I wasn’t happy with it at all the whole day, so it was a struggle for us. We were looking to just make it to the end of the stage and work on it again and make some more adjustments, but, all in all, a pretty frustrating day.
“We had a decent run here last year, but it’s definitely not the day we wanted. We didn’t want it to end this way, but we’ll move on and go to next week.”
Stenhouse further commented about Jones just running into him multiple times prior to the main contact and lays down the law that he’ll be hunting for him going forward.
“No, he was out front. I don’t know what happened to get him in the back,” Stenhouse on Jones. “We had that restart with him up front and didn’t have any issues, so he’s run over us a couple times, but that’s his deal. He’s gonna have to deal with it at some point.”
Jones ended up third and now sits 14th in points, 28 ahead the playoff cutoff. Stenhouse on the other hand will enter Pocono July 28 now 20th in the standings, 77 behind Clint Bowyer, who now holds 16th.
As far Stenhouse’s comments goes, Jones responded after the race that he’s willing to talk with him but he should’ve known that his car was faster after dealing with one of multiple setbacks throughout the day.
— Dakota Randall (@DakRandallNESN) July 21, 2019
“I got five or six runs on him about every corner and he pulled me tight. Finally, I said it was time to go and had to move forward.” Jones explained. “He was there and ran into my right rear until the very last second. I don’t want to run people over but if you’re going to race hard, you’re going to be race hard back.
“I’ll talk to him if he wants to talk about it. I don’t think he’ll understand my side or not, but I definitely have a side. It wasn’t a reckless move by me, it was a calculated move and did it to move up. He had a choice to lift another lap and let me go, and just keep racing his day.
“He knew I was faster and back there because we had to repair damage. If he don’t want to show the respect and want to race really hard, it’s fine. I would expect the same thing back if I was racing him and holding him tight.”