Sports

Last-lap pass helps Ricky Stenhouse Jr. get his first Cup victory

Last-lap pass helps Ricky Stenhouse Jr. get his first Cup victory

It's nearly race time at Talladega Superspeedway, as the 2017 installment of the GEICO 500 begins at 1 p.m.

As Jamie McMurray charged up the middle to take second place from Busch, Stenhouse held the top spot through the final two corners and the tri-oval to beat McMurray to the checkered flag by.095 seconds. "Whether it's we need to fly somewhere a little bit later because I need to spend a little more time with the guys at the shop or want to go to dirt races or things like that, she's been so supportive and knows how hard that I've worked". It's been a long time since I've pulled into a victory lane. "This year, every race we're getting better".

"This is the closest race track to my hometown (he's from Mississippi), and man, the fans were out here this weekend", Stenhouse said.

It's been a long journey for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.to make his way to victory lane. "Everything I have learned is from him".

"I don't mind being known as her boyfriend", Stenhouse said. It's a title that has visibly irritated him when asked about it by the press, but one he feels will not be the main way people view his Jack Roush Racing team moving forward.

The victory all-but locks Stenhouse into the NASCAR playoffs this season for the first time and he is now eligible to compete in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race in two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He wheeled the No. 98 vehicle to Victory Lane in the Xfinity Series for Richard Petty Motorsports then avoided carnage on Sunday to come away with his second fourth-place finish of the season and first since the Daytona 500.

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After finishing second to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Busch threw some shade at the 2.66-mile track, saying he was ready to go to a "real race track". I hated it, because we were right there in good position to get a great finish-if not win the race-and I had to bail out. Can't say enough about the guys. We did all we could here today. Ironically, powerhouse team Joe Gibbs Racing remains winless through 10 races this year, will they rebound to win again in Kansas?

Just two laps into the race, one of NASCAR's best restrictor-plate racers, No. 11 Denny Hamlin intentionally dropped to the rear of the field to avoid any possible incidents. All drivers involved walked away uninjured.

A red flag came out, signifying an immediate stop to the race, which lasted just under 27 minutes. Junior's crew-chief, Greg Ives, said afterward that only one lug-nut was tight on the entire wheel. Clint Bowyer finished 14th and Kevin Harvick 23rd, the last vehicle on the lead lap.

Earnhardt has five finishes of 30th or worse this season.

Speaking of Dale Jr., he taught us our Important NASCAR Safety Lesson of the Week: always make sure your wheels are properly tightened. And no, it's not the officials' fault this time (or most of the time, come to think of it). "This has been a really good track for me", said McMurray, a two-time victor at Tallladega. "That was pretty impressive, I guess, or I was just that slow and in his way". Those answers will play out over the remaining 26 races, with the truest indicator coming on the intermediate-sized tracks that make up the bulk of the schedule and where the organization has notably underperformed in recent years. The top-10 could have been covered by a modest-sized tarp, so the difference between his finish and another win was minimal. May.


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