Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets first NASCAR Cup win

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used a strong Ford engine to blow past Kyle Busch in overtime at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday for his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup victory.

It was the first victory for Roush Fenway Racing since Carl Edwards at Sonoma in 2014. Stenhouse, who has led a resurgent Roush team, won the Geico 500 in his 158th Cup start. The victory makes him eligible for the All-Star race this month and likely a slot in NASCAR's playoffs.

He was greeted in victory lane first by car owner Jack Roush, then girlfriend Danica Patrick, who was in street clothes because she wrecked out of the race earlier.

"We've been terrible for a long time, but we've been getting better and better every race," said Stenhouse, who took time to note he "parked it" in victory lane for his late friend, Bryan Clauson, a well-known driver who died after a crash in a midget car race last year.

"It's good to have Jack Roush back in victory lane. It's been a long time since I've pulled into a victory lane. I had to ask Brad Keselowski how to start a race from the pole because it's been so long."

Stenhouse started from the pole and praised the power from his Doug Yates-built engine for the speed. Then he used that speed to snatch the race away with a last-lap pass of Busch.

The first two stages of the race were calm, and it was the final stretch to the checkered flag that got heated.

The race was stopped for nearly 27 minutes because of an accident that saw AJ Allmendinger's car flipped on its roof with 19 laps remaining. NASCAR listed 18 cars as sustaining damage in the accident.

When the red flag was lifted, many of those cars darted to pit road for frantic repairs under NASCAR's new five-minute rule. If a team can't fix its damage on pit road in five minutes, the car is ruled out of the race.

The race restarted with 15 laps remaining and Busch as the leader. There was a caution called with 10 laps remaining because Landon Cassill couldn't get his disabled car off the track. But no one had enough to catch Busch as the field was setting itself up for a frantic dash to the finish. Then Ryan Newman spun with three laps remaining to send the race into overtime.

Stenhouse got a push from Jamie McMurray around Busch and made it stick for the win.

McMurray finished second in a Chevrolet and was followed by Busch in a Toyota.

NHRA: Ron Capps raced to his third straight Funny Car victory, beating Tim Wilkerson in the Southern Nationals final at Commerce, Ga. Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, Bo Butner in Pro Stock, and LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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