By Jenna Fryer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. raced to his second victory of the season – and second on a restrictor-plate track – Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Stenhouse picked up his first career NACAR Cup Series win in May at Talladega.
He earned this one for Roush Fenway Racing on a two-lap overtime sprint when leader David Ragan tried to block the field and lost momentum. Stenhouse squirted by and held on for the victory.
Clint Bowyer was second, followed by Paul Menard, Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman and Ragan.
Brendan Gaughan, AJ Allmendinger, Erik Jones and Chris Buescher rounded out a bizarre top 10. Many of the top contenders were knocked out in accidents, including Stenhouse’s girlfriend, Danica Patrick.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s so-called Daytona finale ended up being a letdown.
NASCAR’s most popular driver scraped the wall early in the 400-mile race and then got knocked out with 54 laps remaining when Kevin Harvick spun and crashed in front of him. It was a disappointing finish after a week of hype.
“I just didn’t expect all that attention all week,” he said. “My phone buzzing all day long with social media going crazy, everybody talking about this being my last Daytona race. I hope every weekend isn’t like this as far as that goes. The attention and the reaction from the fans makes me feel great. Hopefully, we are able to turn that around and back on them for the rest of the season and thank them for all they had done.”
Earnhardt was the pole-sitter and overwhelming favorite to win.
He clearly had one of the fastest cars in the field and spent much of the first two stages up front.
Riding behind Harvick did him in. Earnhardt had nowhere to go when Harvick got sideways.
“I just don’t know where I could have gone or if I could have done anything different,” Junior said.