Call it a rookie error.
Five laps into Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s opening practice round at Pocono Raceway, the driver of the No. 17 Ford slapped the right rear of his Fusion.
“I had my hands full there,” Stenhouse said. “I thought the guys were going to have to bring me out the backup on that one for sure. I was just getting used to this racetrack. Last time here was the first time I ever downshifted really at an oval so I was getting used to that. I didn’t downshift the first five laps through the tunnel turn but then I said, ‘Hey, I am going to downshift here and see if we can get a little extra speed.’ I downshifted a little too early and it jumped out from under me.
"I thought we were bringing a backup out but we got lucky and scraped the right rear. I owe the guys dinner now. I told them anytime I scrape the wall I owe them dinner, so now I owe them another dinner.”
Stenhouse is currently 21st in the point standings. He finished 26th in his Cup debut at the “Tricky Triangle” in June. But the Sprint Cup freshman has very limited experience on the 2.5-mile track since the Nationwide Series does not include Pocono on its schedule. He did win the ARCA Pocono 200 there in 2008.
Stenhouse was 30th on the speed chart prior to his accident. His fastest lap was 171.618 mph.
If there is a bright side to Stenhouse’s setback, it’s that the team won’t have to unload a backup car.
“No, they will be able to get it patched up,” Stenhouse said. “I got lucky and didn’t mess it up as bad as I thought it was going to be. These guys are good. They will get me back out there."