Saturday’s second round practice session managed to dodge the raindrops but Ricky Stenhouse couldn’t dodge the wall as the Roush-Fenway driver kissed the wall with less than 40 minutes to go in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice.
Stenhouse said that his No. 17 Sunny Delight/Fastenal Ford “had just been really loose” prior to the incident and then “just got down in the corner and it took off.” The team would bring the car to the pit area and assess the damage but not before Roush-Fenway Racing debated going to a backup car for Sunday’s race. Stenhouse added, “I thought I saved it and just got the right-rear in the wall.”
After deliberation, the team elected to go to work and hammer out the damage and make repairs in order to hold on to the team’s 19th place qualifying placement based upon championship points. If the team had elected to go to a backup car, Stenhouse would have been forced to start in the back of the pack for Sunday’s Food City 500.
Stenhouse wouldn’t be the only driver to kiss the wall at The Last Great Colosseum.
The No. 42 Credit One Chevrolet driver Kyle Larson would also brush the wall with about ten minutes left in practice to bring out a caution for the second time on the morning. The pole setter would escape major damage and head to the pits before the end of practice. Larson was 17th quickest at 127.343 mph in the Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch hooked up for a faster speed on Saturday than first round leader and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Erik Jones. Busch piloting the No. 18 M&M’s Racing Toyota set the pace with a practice lap of 128.865 mph. Busch will be looking for sixth win on the high banks of of the .533 mile oval.
Busch’s other teammate, Denny Hamlin fared well in second round practice. The No. 11 FedEx Toyota set the pace with a 128.176 mph performance, while Friday’s surprise Erik Jones would hang on to second in practice with a 128.649 mph time besting his 127.843 mph time from Friday.
Kevin Harvick put Ford in the top five earning a fourth fastest lap of 128.091 mph with Hendrick driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. placing the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet in the top five with a lap of 128.005 mph.
Story by Rod Mullins/Augusta Free Press