Monday August 3rd, 2020 10:27AM

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. facing win-or-bust scenario

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is a realist, and he can do the math.

Given that he is 20th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 78 points behind the last eligible Playoff position, Stenhouse knows only too well that there’s only one path to NASCAR’s postseason.

“One hundred percent, we have to win,” Stenhouse said on Friday at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400. “It’s a bummer, because I feel like we have been fast compared to the previous years, at least on the 1.5-mile tracks.

“It’s a bummer that we are kind of in that spot, but I think we can get our car good here and strategy — there are all different ways these races can play out. I don’t think Michigan is our best opportunity to win, but I do think it is an opportunity that if the situation arises that you might be able to get something done. Bristol is by far the one that we circle.”

Stenhouse is right to consider Bristol his best hope. Though both his career Cup victories have come on superspeedways, Stenhouse has four top fives in 13 starts at Thunder Valley, including second-place runs in 2014 and 2016. In this year’s spring race, Stenhouse had a fast No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, but a backstretch wreck on the second lap of the event ruined his chances.

“I think Bristol is our race track to go in and do what we need to do,” Stenhouse said. “I’m bummed in the spring that we didn’t get to race and show exactly how much speed we had, because throughout the weekend in practice that was by far the best race car that I have ever had at Bristol.

“I know we have ran second there and struggled in practice and qualifying. I was bummed that we didn’t get to show that speed. I’m thinking that, when we go back there, we will have that same speed and hopefully showcase what we’ve got.”

A position in the Playoffs likely depends on it.

Jimmie Johnson vs. Ryan Blaney: A Matter Of Respect

Jimmie Johnson felt he deserved an apology from Ryan Blaney.

Ryan Blaney believes he deserves respect from the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.

As of Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway, neither driver had gotten what he wanted in the aftermath of an collision that sent Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet into the tire barrier last Sunday at Watkins Glen International.

To Blaney, it was a racing incident born of two drivers fighting for the same position. To Johnson, it was a case of getting run over. Johnson confronted Blaney on pit road after the race, but the conversation produced no satisfactory resolution.

Johnson expected a call or text from Blaney during the week. None came.

“I was (ticked) off, I was crashed, I got drove through, plain and simple,” Johnson said. “I don’t care how it looks or how it’s perceived. I got dumped, and I was upset. The way I was raised and I went racing was when something like that happens you go talk to the guy. I was taught not to use my car as a weapon, go out and try to crash a guy back.

“Fighting is really not my thing either, unless I have to defend myself, so I went there and talked to the guy and hoped to hear a different side of the story than what I thought took place in the car. So that’s the way I was raised in racing and the way I handled it…

“All I can speak to is the way I know I would handle things. Wrong, right or indifferent, I’ve always made an effort to talk to the person. I have learned more about Ryan’s point of view through reading articles than I have from out of his mouth, and that part bothers me. It’s pretty sad.”

Johnson noted after the pit road conversation that Blaney’s lip was quivering during the exchange. Blaney took offense to the characterization.

“I was pretty disappointed what he said after the race — and that pretty much confirmed that I wasn’t going to check back in with him,” Blaney said on Friday at Michigan. “That really (ticked) me off. I raced Jimmie with a lot of respect, and I let him chew my (butt) out for two minutes or whatever it was and was very respectful and gave me his side of the story.

“And then for him to say what he did after we got done talking, that pretty much solidified that that respect has dwindled down a lot. Obviously, that respect doesn’t go both ways. It showed me he doesn’t have respect for me.

“That really upset me. If I see him around, I’m sure we’ll have words. But I’m not going to reach out, because we talked after the race and what else is going to be solved?”

The chances of Johnson and Blaney running into each other off the track rose substantially at Michigan. By happenstance, their motor homes are parked next to each other in the driver lot.

Kevin Harvick Would Like To See More Sticky Stuff

A few brave souls, including pole winner Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and perennial rim-rider Kyle Larson, ventured up into the PJ1 traction compound during Saturday’s early morning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Michigan International Speedway.

Notably, Kyle Busch tested the higher lanes in final practice and found momentum there.

But that wasn’t the norm. Most drivers stayed in the lower lanes not treated with the PJ1 — but with knowledge that the higher lanes would be available if needed in Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400.

The consensus among drivers is that the application of the PJ1 for the first time at Michigan is a good move, but most would like to see the compound applied lower on the racing the surface than it currently is.

“I wish that PJ1 was a little further down,” said Kevin Harvick, who was fastest in the first Saturday practice at 190.501 mph. “We’d already have that third groove run in. I saw the 42 (Larson) and the 6 (Newman) and couple of cars up there running in it.

“We really need that groove to be there (Sunday) to give everybody three choices instead of two… It looks like right now it (the PJ1) needs to come down about three or four feet.”

No matter the location, drivers will use the treated lanes on Sunday to find clean air in the corners and maintain momentum.

“Track position still trumps the speed in the cars, because you have to position yourself correctly,” Harvick said. “In the swarm, you kind of have to just maintain and try not to put yourself in a bad position to lose a bunch of spots.

“Once they get singled out, you can start to use the speed of the car to really navigate ‘em one by one. So it’s definitely an interesting practice.”

Final Cup practice was interesting for Daniel Suarez, too, but not in a way he would have liked. Roughly halfway through the session, a punctured left rear tire sent Suarez rocketing toward the outside wall.

Suarez executed a deft save after slight contact with the barrier and slid across three lanes of traffic without hitting anything else.

“The good part is (the damage to) the car is not that bad,” Suarez said after the incident. “I feel like I did a decent job trying to keep the car out of the wall. But we’ll see. Hopefully, we’ve got a little bit of a break, and we can fix it.”

Erik Jones, who brings a string of four straight top-five-finishes to MIS, paced Happy Hour with a speed of 189.843 mph. Alex Bowman was second on the speed chart, followed by Harvick.

WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of Sunday's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 from Michigan International Speedway beginning at 2 o’clock on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Michigan International Speedway – Brooklyn, MI
Consumers Energy 400 – August 11, 2019

Sunday’s Starting Lineup

1. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 190.471 mph.
2. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 190.089 mph.
3. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 189.703 mph.
4. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 189.509 mph.
5. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 189.439 mph.
6. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 189.384 mph.
7. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 189.299 mph.
8. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 189.255 mph.
9. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 189.095 mph.
10. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 188.892 mph.
11. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 188.462 mph.
12. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 188.388 mph.
13. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 188.373 mph.
14. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 188.093 mph.
15. (19) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 187.911 mph.
16. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 187.877 mph.
17. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 187.573 mph.
18. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 187.510 mph.
19. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 187.310 mph.
20. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 186.882 mph.
21. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 186.601 mph.
22. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 186.553 mph.
23. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 186.056 mph.
24. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 185.615 mph.
25. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 185.309 mph.
26. (43) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 185.266 mph.
27. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 185.080 mph.
28. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 184.985 mph.
29. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 184.044 mph.
30. (15) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 181.846 mph.
31. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 181.237 mph.
32. (27) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 179.982 mph.
33. (52) Austin Theriault, Ford, 179.403 mph.
34. (51) Cody Ware(i), Ford, 179.395 mph.
35. (77) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 178.576 mph.
36. (53) Spencer Boyd(i), Ford, 173.590 mph.
37. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
38. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. facing win-or-bust scenario
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is a realist, and he can do the math. Given that he is 20th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 78 points behind the last eligible Playoff position...
6:00AM ( 11 seconds ago )
Softball: Buford routs Apalchee behind 5 HR day
Buford snapped an early two-game losing streak with a 15-0 rout of Apalachee Saturday in the Rumble at the Ridge tournament...
10:39PM ( 7 hours ago )
Braves bullpen blows lead, again, in loss to Marlins
Martin Prado hit a sacrifice fly that scored Harold Ramirez in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Miami Marlins rallied for a 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night...
10:13PM ( 7 hours ago )
Ben Watkins scores first USLMS victory at Modoc
Ben Watkins made his first visit to ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series victory lane on Saturday night with a win at South Carolina’s Modoc Raceway.
2:00PM ( 2 days ago )
Brooks bags first Boyd’s Late Model victory of 2019
It took all season, but Booger Brooks finally broke into victory lane at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia for the first time in 2019 on Saturday night.
8:00AM ( 2 days ago )
Winger takes Southern All Stars victory at Thunderhill
It may have taken a couple of extra hours thanks to Mother Nature, but it was worth the wait for Ashton Winger, as he scored the Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series victory...
2:00PM ( 3 days ago )
Wallace-Kyle Busch battle gets intense at Watkins Glen
On lap 62 of Sunday’s GoBowling at The Glen, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Kyle Busch exited turn 7 side-by-side, fighting for position.
6:00AM ( 6 days ago )
Chase Elliott repeats with Cup win at Watkins Glen
One year ago, Chase Elliott held off Martin Truex, Jr. at Watkins Glen International to turn on the siren atop the Dawsonville Pool Room for the first time as a NASCAR Cup Series winner.
7:51PM ( 6 days ago )
Hamlin says traction compound considered for Phoenix
You might have to start calling Denny Hamlin “Mr. Glue.” After all, Hamlin has been heavily involved in discussion about the placement of PJ1 traction compound at various tracks...
8:00AM ( 6 days ago )
Monster Cup
Around The Track Results and Points Standings Page
The latest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series race results.
By AccessWDUN
2:01AM ( 3 hours ago )
Austin Cindric collects his second consecutive Xfinity career win at Mid-Ohio
Austin Cindric claimed his second NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in as many weeks – earning an impressive 3.78-second win over Christopher Bell...
By Holly Cain -NASCAR Wire Service
8:35PM ( 9 hours ago )
Austin Hill scores second NASCAR Truck win at Michigan
Austin Hill’s victory in Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway provided sweet relief for two-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
5:01PM ( 12 hours ago )
Joey Logano applauds use of traction compound at Michigan
Given that Joey Logano is a three-time winner at Michigan International Speedway — not to mention the winner of the June 2019 race at the 2.0-mile track...
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
6:00AM ( 1 day ago )
Late qualifier Brad Keselowski storms to Michigan pole
The last qualifier in Friday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series time trials at Michigan International Speedway will be first to the green flag on Sunday afternoon.
By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
8:02PM ( 1 day ago )