Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did it! He got over the hump and into victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday. Say all you want about plate racing, this was no lucky shot in the dark.
The two-time Xfinity Series champion is no back marker. Last season, Stenhouse scored four top fives and six top tens. Just 10 races into 2017, has three top fives and five top tens with the season just a quarter of the way into the schedule. Look over the schedule. The win in the Geico 500 comes after a ninth place run at Bristol and a fourth place finish at Richmond. You could say the kid’s got game, but at 29, Stenhouse isn’t a kid anymore.
For the Blue Ovals and their fans, it’s another feather in their cap. Thanks to Stenhouse, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, Ford has five wins in ten races. If the trend holds, it will be Ford’s first manufacturer’s championship since 2002.
Just when it looked like he might fade away for good, the Cat in the Hat is back. Not having won a race since 2014, it’s easy to forget that Jack Roush and Company have 324 wins and was the envy of the Cup Series in the mid-2000s. Not many were buying the idea that Stenhouse or Trevor Bayne could deliver wins for the once mighty RFR. Once boasting a five-car garage, Roush has whittled back to two, and at least from what has been produced by the 17 car, the move has paid off.
The win for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing is legit, so make no mistake, there’s potential for more. We’re not saying that Stenhouse is necessarily the next feel good story a la Martin Truex Jr., time will tell.
Regardless, the Mississippi native has earned his stripes, and his patience has been rewarded. No longer is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. merely “Mr. Danica Patrick”- though there could be much worse things to be known for.