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Kickin The Tires

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Leads JTG Daugherty to 4th at Charlotte

Photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Before this year, JTG Daugherty Racing had never scored a top-five finish on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Thanks to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., they now have two.

In what is his first year in the mid-pack Chevrolet team, Stenhouse has already experienced the highs and lows and a typical NASCAR season. However, the lows were shoved aside during Thursday night’s Alsco Uniforms 500 from Charlotte Motor Speedway, as the two-time Xfinity Series champion turned a top-10 car into a fourth-place finisher.

“That was a really solid night for our Kroger Camaro. I knew we had good speed in our car from the Coca-Cola 600 the other night, we just weren’t able to put the whole race together,”

Knocking off competitor after competitor, Stenhouse climbed into the third spot in the closing laps, even getting within 0.6 seconds of second place Ryan Blaney. A close call cost him third spot to Denny Hamlin, however, the result was huge for the team.

“We worked really well together and I was happy with the handling the majority of the night,” he said. “[Crew chief] Brian [Pattie] made some really good adjustments that allowed us to make passes and make aggressive moves to gain track position. And hold it during the final green flag run.”

As mentioned, it was a continuation of a career-high number for the 12-year-old organization, who captured their second top-five finish of the young 2020 campaign. Though it’s not yet their most in a single — four from 2009 with driver Marcos Ambrose — it is their firsts on 1.5-mile tracks, with Stenhouse doing so Thursday at Charlotte and Las Vegas back in February.

“Dang, what a night,” he said. “The boys made some really good adjustments from the first Charlotte race. We stayed at it all night and passed a lot of good race cars. That’s by far the best racecar I’ve ever had on a mile-and-a-half track.

“This is exactly the type of momentum we need heading into one of my favorite tracks – Bristol Motor Speedway – this Sunday.”

Indeed, Bristol is one of Stenhouse’s most accomplished racetracks in the Cup Series. Despite not earning a victory, the 32-year-old has scored four top-five finishes on the Tennessee half-mile, including two runner-up finishes in 2014 and ’16.

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