It was after “the Big One” Sunday that Olive Branch native Ricky Stenhouse Jr. emerged with Kyle Busch to jostle for leadership in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. A thrilling overtime door-to-door chase between the two resulted in Stenhouse’s first cup series victory.
In an interview with FOX Sports, Stenhouse gave thanks to his team and remembered his friend and former NASCAR driver Bryan Clauson, who passed away in a dirt-car racing accident last August.
“This is for all the guys at the shop. We’ve been terrible for a long time. This year, every race we’re getting better and better,” Stenhouse said. “We knew that Talladega was a good racetrack for us. It’s been a good one in the past and I’m just glad we parked it for my buddy, Bryan Clauson. He was with us on that last lap.”
The Olive Branch, Miss. native led the field to the green flag leading 13 laps before having to forfeit the lead to Brad Keselowski. After a multi-car accident and a flurry of late-race cautions, sending the race into overtime, the Roush Fenway Racing driver restarted on the inside of the front row for the final green-white-checkered finish. With a last lap charge by the No. 18 and the No. 1 machines, Stenhouse was able to hold them back to claim his first MENCS win.
At 29 years old, Stenhouse moves into his 23rd year behind the wheel. At the ripe age of six, Stenhouse began racing go-karts and by 15, he had earned 47 A-main karting victories and more than 90 podium finishes. He moved into 360 winged sprint cars in 2003 and won the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Driver Poll and Dirt Winged Sprint Car Rookie of the Year. He was also named the Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park Rookie of the Year that same year.
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