LAS VEGAS, Nev — Another week into the 2019 season, and yet one more solid performance by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The 31-year-old started the day eighth and ran as high as second early in the afternoon, before finishing the Pennzoil 400 in the sixth, a career-best for him at any mile and a half speedway on the schedule and his first top-10 at an intermidate track since the Coca-Cola 600 last year.
The No. 17 Ford also managed to score stage points throughout the 267-lap event, with a sixth and eighth–place finish in the first and second stages.
For a team that missed the playoffs a season ago, this impressive start seems promising for the year ahead. While Sunday may have been the first top-10 of the season, their strength has been felt. They were able to lead laps in the Daytona 500 and had enough speed to hang with the leaders late despite being trapped a lap down a weekend ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Ultimately, it feels as if their performance Sunday is a statement saying that this is a team that can be competitive despite the lack of success Roush Fenway Racing has had recently.
However, Stenhouse is not letting these early runs get to head just yet, as he continues to keep his focus strictly on a week-to-week, rather than getting caught up in the moment.
“Yeah, it feels good. We’re doing what we need to do, but it’s a long season. We’re only three races in,” Stenhouse told POPULAR SPEED. “Definitely need to continue our progress and keep pushing forward. But, all in all, really, really happy.”
Through three races, the No. 17 team sits seventh in the standings 34 points behind leader, Joey Logano. With the next race on the schedule being at ISM Raceway next weekend, Stenhouse will hope to see the results he had in 2017, where he finished both races in the top-10. Notably, last season he ended both events at the track outside the top-20.
EMAIL MITCHELL AT firstname.lastname@example.org
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.