By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – After running in the top 10 for a majority of the race in the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. saw his great run dashed in a late accident on lap 294.
The 28-year-old ran a clean race and kept his No. 6 Zest Ford Fusion out of trouble, running as high as fifth at the 1.5-mile oval.
On the exit of Turn 2 Jimmie Johnson made contact with an already loose Austin Dillon, sending him into the backstretch wall and spinning across the track. With smoke clouding the track, 13 cars in all received damage and Stenhouse was among the recipients.
Stenhouse managed to recover to finish 16th, but overall it didn’t end the way the two-time XFINITY Series champion wanted.
“Our Zest Ford was really solid all night,” said Stenhouse. “We ran in the top 10 the whole race and didn’t get the finish that this team deserved. They brought a really good car and we were really fast and felt good about our performance, so that’s what we’ve got to look at. Our pit road was really good today. That was another solid thing. Anytime you start moving up and running further up front those pit crews up front are a lot better than the ones we’re used to competing with, so it was good the guys on pit road did a great job, especially since we had a fill-in there on the rear, but all in all I’m really happy with the weekend with our qualifying effort and the way we ran.
“It’s just a bummer that we got a little damage there at the end. I didn’t really have a chance after that.”
The No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing driver nearly missed catching the late race damage, but admitted that he misjudged figuring out where Dillon’s Chevrolet would end up.
“It looked like at first I thought he was gonna come down the track and then it looked like he was gonna stay up on the top,” said Stenhouse. “I kind of committed to turning underneath thinking he was gonna stay at the top, then all of a sudden he came down and I got as much brake as I could and avoided him as much as I could.
“We just barely clipped him ever so slightly and it got us too much damage.”
Image: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway