- Noah Cornelius
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Survives Chaos, Wins Longest Daytona 500 Ever
Veteran NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. broke a 6-year winless
streak on Sunday by winning the 2023 Daytona 500. Stenhouse, whose last win came
at this very same track in 2017, barely beat out defending Cup Series champion Joey
Logano for the win following a controversial last lap caution that ended the race early.
This was both the first Daytona 500 win for Stenhouse, as well as his team JTG
Daugherty Racing, owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter, and former NBA star Brad
Daugherty. For Stenhouse, he says his x-factor was an old friend: Crew Chief Mike
“Not winning since 2017, having struggles, ups and downs, to have somebody
like Mike, who when he took over the reins as soon as the season was over, it was,
‘hey, I know you can still get this done,’” Stenhouse remarked while speaking to the
press. “‘We’ve just got to give you the right opportunities. We know if we give you cars
capable of running up front, you can do that. We’ve proven that.’"
Kelley became Stenhouse’s crew chief in 2010 while the duo was at
Roush-Fenway Racing. Before Kelley, Stenhouse struggled in the NASCAR Xfinity
Series, then known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He started off his 2010 season
poorly with four crashes in ten races, but that changed when Kelley became
Stenhouse’s crew chief. Stenhouse would go on to win the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide
Series Rookie of the Year, then won back-to-back Nationwide Series championships in
2011 and 2012. Stenhouse then moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series, then known as
the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, continuing to race for Roush-Fenway Racing.
From 2013-2019, Stenhouse won two races with Roush-Fenway Racing, both in
2017. Ironically, his first two Cup Series wins both came on superspeedways: Talladega
Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway. Nevertheless, Stenhouse had been mired in mediocrity throughout his entire Cup Series career, and that followed him when he moved to JTG Daugherty Racing before the 2020 Cup Series season.
With his new team, Stenhouse began showing glimpses of greatness, recording
six Top 10’s and five Top 5’s, including two runner-up finishes. Yet, Stenhouse and JTG
Daugherty could not find any consistency to make the coveted NASCAR Playoffs in the
last 3 seasons. But, after winning the 2023 Daytona 500, Stenhouse and JTG are riding
“We’re a small team. We’re not a super powerhouse team,” said Kelley, also
speaking to the media at Daytona. “We’re small. I think there’s 40, 45 employees that
work in our shop every day. But I have 45 people that believe in what we’re trying to
accomplish. We’re trying to get people to believe in Ricky Stenhouse again. We’re trying to get people to believe in myself and the vision that we have.”
This win locks Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs, which begins
in September. It also gives JTG Daugherty Racing just its second win since the team’s
inception fourteen years ago. But at the end of the day, far after the checkered flag
waved, this win is one that has already immortalized Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG
Daugherty Racing in NASCAR’s 75-year history.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daugherty Racing look to continue their strong
start to the season this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in the Pala Casino 400.
Racing starts at 3:30 PM ET. Coverage begins at 2:30 PM ET on FOX, MRN, and