A look at the inspiration for Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s Darlington paint scheme.
Driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford fails to make GEICO 500 field MORE: Sunday's starting lineup RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Changes to NASCAR's qualifying format for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway produced a number of surprises, not the least of which was the failure of Ricky Stenhouse Jr . to earn a starting berth in the 43-car field. The Roush Fenway Racing driver was one of three that failed to earn a starting position based on his qualifying speed -- Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson also failed to post times fast enough to crack the top 36 here Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Sorenson ( Tommy Baldwin Racing ), 36th fastest in the opening round, was eventually added to the lineup after Joe Nemechek 's No. 29 Toyota failed post-qualifying inspection. "I didn't consider the fact that our position in points would leave us in jeopardy," Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush said afterward. "That was a blind side on my part. It's unfortunate we weren't in a better place in points, and that we had as many good cars as we did that didn't qualify based on time. It's just unbelievable that we didn't get on the race track in time to get a lap there." Stenhouse has made 72 starts in Sprint Cup competition, including 67 in a row since moving up to the series full time a year ago. He made five starts between 2011-12 while winning back-to-back championships in NASCAR's Nationwide Series . His team's DNQ was the result of several things, from Saturday's slow qualifying speed to his team's position in the owner points standings. During the first round, Stenhouse posted a speed of 176.947 mph, just 43rd overall for the round. While unfortunate, under normal circumstances, he would have been one of several slotted into the field in one of the seven remaining positions available based on owner points. But because seven drivers higher in owner points failed to crack the top 36 (Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Kyle Larson and Jeff Gordon ), Stenhouse Jr . wasn't able to secure one of those starting spots. NASCAR determines its 43-car lineup based on the following: positions 1-36 are awarded based solely on lap times. Positions 37-43 are awarded based on a team's rank in the owner standings, and assigned positions based on their lap times. (If a former champion fails to post a speed in the top 36, he may be assigned the 43rd position, if his team isn't high enough in the owners' points standings to receive one of those berths.) NASCAR made changes to the qualifying format for Talladega, with teams split into two groups for the first round, and limiting the time of the round to five minutes. The latter change meant teams would likely get one opportunity to post a qualifying run with no time to return to pit road, allow their cars to cool and return to the track should it be necessary. Stenhouse was last in line in a group of cars that included Gordon and Harvick making their qualifying laps in the first round. But when Gordon slowed (to create a gap between his group and another group ahead of the pack), it slowed those behind him. Because they didn't get back to the start/finish line in time, they were unable to post another lap. "I thought being the last car in line would be beneficial for us," Stenhouse said. "We had Jeff Gordon leading the pack there; I thought we would have a good shot at putting a good lap in, but my spotter was telling me '‘hey, you have 30 seconds to get across the start/finish line' as we were entering Turn 3. "I don't guess the 24’s (spotter) was giving him a lot of information. He kept slowing the pack down and we didn't get a good lap and never got across the start/finish line in time. "My spotter was giving me the information I needed and I wish the 24 would have been doing the same." Stenhouse later tweeted the following: All I got tough day pic.twitter.com/4KWEFvpmQ9 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) October 18, 2014 Gordon said the qualifying plan "was shot before the plan started." "I messed up ultimately," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "I just mistimed getting to the line. The whole group was going so slow I knew I had to have a gap and when I came across the line I thought I had enough (time) to be able to complete that lap and get one more, which was the only way we were going to make it. "But we came up short. It's a mess out there. It's not easy." It was the second time this season a driver from the RFR stable failed to qualify for a Sprint Cup race. A week ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Nationwide Series regular Trevor Bayne was unable to qualify for the Bank of America 500 in a fourth RFR entry fielded just for that race. Roush, whose organization also fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards , didn't blame the qualifying format for the setback. "We just didn't get on the race track fast enough and I'm not sure who actually made that call. I'm not sure if it was left up to Ricky or the spotter or (crew chief) Mike Kelley," Roush said. "It's my responsibility to make sure we execute our program so we have a chance to qualify. We clearly didn't do it here and that's an oversight." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See how the No. 17 Ford will look Labor Day weekend MORE: Buy tickets for Darlington " Enter sweepstakes for Darlington weekend SHOP: Darlington gear "I don't know about y'all, but I think this @17CargillBeef throwback car looks really cool" - @StenhouseJr pic.twitter.com/3p2DNtL35Q — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) August 18, 2015 Hard to say we disagree, Ricky . Sporting a firesuit that looks like it might even emanate that distinct 1970s musk -- you know the one -- Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr . reveleaed the throwback paint scheme that he'll be running on his No. 17 Ford for Labor Day weekend's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sep. 6, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Darlington Raceway. RELATED: More Darlington throwback paint schemes The look is a nod to David Pearson, 105-time winner in NASCAR's premier series and Darlington's all-time winner with 10 trips to Victory Lane. Like Stenhouse , Pearson also previously ran the No. 17 Ford, picking up two of his Darlington wins behind the wheel of that car. Ricky poses with his David Pearson throwback car and a photo of the original pic.twitter.com/OFNuOGyyJp — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) August 18, 2015 Ricky poses with the Darlington firefighters and police at @TooToughToTame pic.twitter.com/0AWCbb6cLc — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) August 18, 2015 This is sweet! Check out @StenhouseJr 's #Cargill car for the #BojanglesSo500 weekend! #ForTheLoveOfBeef @roushfenway pic.twitter.com/L8HVrDpLjz — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) August 18, 2015 Pearson and @TooToughToTame are synonymous, and kudos to @cargill and @roushfenway for putting this together! #BojanglesSo500 — Daryl Wolfe (@daryl_wolfe) August 18, 2015 NASCAR Hall of Famer Leonard Wood also took a few minutes to give his thoughts on Pearson, his fellow Hall of Famer. Here's a quick word from Leonard Wood, co-founder of Wood Brothers Racing , on David Pearson and Darlington Raceway. http://t.co/TbeXdA7srV — Darlington Raceway (@TooToughToTame) August 18, 2015 Stenhouse , currently 28th in points and in search of his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth, can do so with a win at Darlington. Tune in Sep. 6 to see if the Roush Fenway driver can get it done in this excellent throwback scheme.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr . slams into the back end of Sam Hornish Jr . entering Turn 1 as the No. 9 has a problem.
Roush Fenway Racing driver returns after failing to qualify at 'Dega RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . watched last weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway from his motorcoach, one day after failing to make the starting field for the first time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. It was a sour pill to swallow, but the 27-year-old driver was quick to note that he's bounced back from adversity in the past. He also learned that his girlfriend, fellow driver Danica Patrick , was quick to go to bat for him, pleading his case and railing against tweaks to the qualifying procedure that made him a Sunday spectator. One weekend removed from the qualifying gaffe, Stenhouse was buoyant after the first Sprint Cup practice Friday at Martinsville Speedway , eager to put the miss behind him and push toward improved performance in 2015. If nothing else, with 43 cars showing up for 43 spots in the field at Martinsville Speedway , he'll have a better vantage point behind the wheel of his Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford. "Having to watch the race is never any fun, but it's part of it," Stenhouse said. "Sometimes you don't make races. I never thought we wouldn't miss a race here, but everything worked out perfectly and we did. Everything aligned and a worst-case scenario happened for us and we wouldn't let it happen again, that's for sure. … We learned from it and thankfully we don't have to worry about it this week. That's a positive." The confusion surrounding the multicar Coors Light Pole Qualifying at restrictor-plate tracks Talladega and Daytona was compounded last Saturday by the waiting game with teams trying to time their qualifying attempts to the best aerodynamic advantage. Ultimately, time was not on Stenhouse's side. "We're not thinking about making it in the race. Knowing we needed to make it in the race, we would have gone to the middle of the pack to run a lap good enough to make it in, and that'd be it," he said. "We were trying to make it to the next round, because that's what we get paid to do -- try to get poles. I thought rolling off last, we'll get the biggest draft and easily make it to the next round and have no problem. Then my spotter's telling me you need to kind of hurry up. He told me halfway down the back straightaway, you're going to have to hustle to get around here." After Jeff Gordon 's car slowed his momentum, Stenhouse crossed under the start-finish line just after the black and red flags were unfurled, leaving him among those bitten. But so were several other Chase-eligible drivers, who snapped up the remaining provisional berths based on the team owner points standings, leaving Stenhouse and Co. as spectators. "Now, being where we are in points is not where we want to be, but heck, 10 positions up in points still wouldn't have got us in the race," said Stenhouse , who was 27th in the driver standings entering Talladega. "It would still be tough to have that perfect scenario work out again, but we'll be better in points next year and hopefully won't run into any situations again like that. Stenhouse ran an extra lap after flashing under the black and red flags, just in case there was an error in timing and scoring. But as he inched back toward pit road, it became more and more evident among the No. 17 camp that the team would be left out. That prompted Patrick to action, as she marched up to NASCAR officials to speak her mind -- not just on her boyfriend's behalf, but as a general protest to the unconventional qualifying system. "I was really pissed off after qualifying," Patrick said. "I went to the NASCAR hauler and said 'what the … is this? Is that what we were trying to accomplish?' Part of it was because it was Ricky and part of it was, that could've just as easily been me, and I know how important those races are to me and my team, but then also my sponsors and the people who invest into those events, especially the speedways, the big ones, all of them. These are all very big races, all four of those, in particular the Daytona 500 . "And so I was fighting for not having someone who wasn't deserving in that situation." The qualifying lockout left Stenhouse in a tricky position regarding what to do next, but instead of going home, he remained to fulfill sponsorship obligations and stay as a TV viewer with a strong rooting interest. With the laps winding down and Patrick leading, she looked like as good a pick as any to secure a surprise breakthrough win. If so, Stenhouse said he would have been front and center in Victory Lane but stopped short of watching the race from atop the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 pit box. "All those guys like me. They would have let over there, but I figured it would be best to watch it from the bus," Stenhouse said. "Had some pizza. A Coca-Cola. Just chilled out." Stenhouse has already had hard lessons in his tenure with car owner Jack Roush. He failed to qualifying for a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Nashville during his rookie season of 2010; that and a flurry of crashes in the first half of the year led to a two-race benching and shop duty back at Roush Fenway headquarters. The rest of the story is that Stenhouse recovered to win Nationwide Series championships the next two seasons, graduating to NASCAR's premier division the following year. While he hasn't enjoyed this most recent dose of misfortune, he's hoping the difficult lessons eventually pay similar dividends. "I learn real quick of things to do and not to do," Stenhouse said. "Sitting there watching races, especially long Cup races, makes you sit there and think about everything you need to do, whether it be get more focused and help the guys at the shop on our team more to figure out what we need to do to make our Fords fast again like they need to be. Spent some time with my guys about already looking ahead to next year at the things we need to do differently so we're not in the circumstances we are (in) right now in terms of being further back in points and not running as well. "We're already looking to 2015 and making sure we're not this far back in the garage." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Patrick suffers minor damage from contact Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge MORE: Complete Sprint Unlimited results Danica Patrick's car was dinged from some three-wide racing with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Austin Dillon in the Sprint Unlimited, but Stenhouse and Dillon took the brunt of the damage. RELATED: See the best photos from Saturday's race The incident on Lap 62 brought Patrick to pit road quickly, and she would lose a lap. She had spent some of the race running in the top five but had to make multiple pit stops to repair the damage. Stenhouse Jr . smacked the wall, while Dillon went for a spin after the two made contact. Both Stenhouse Jr . and Dillon's car suffered enough damage to put them several laps down. Patrick would go on to finish the race in 10th place, while Stenhouse Jr . and Dillon would finish 16th and 17th, respectively, 14 laps down. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Dover International Speedway . 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick scored his spot in the Round of 12 in dramatic fashion by leading a career-best 355 laps and notching the 750th victory for manufacturer Chevrolet. 2. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Post-race, Busch said he was pleased with where his team finished, citing it had a second-place car, but also adding it had quite a bit of ground to make up to catch the "lightning-fast" No. 4 team. 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The final caution flag was a lucky break for Earnhardt, who took the opportunity to address a loose wheel. He then used a solid restart to slip past fellow Chase contender Jamie McMurray and punch his ticket to the next round. 4. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . "Nice work guys. Nothing to be ashamed of," McMurray radioed his team after just missing the cut for Round 2. For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 5. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola was posting top-five lap times with 55 laps to go, but needed those remaining circuits to pick up seven spots and match his best Dover result. 6. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The decision to stop twice during the fifth caution period to ensure the No. 5 was full of fuel didn't hurt Kahne, who earned his seventh Dover top 10. 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth, already a Round 2 contender thanks to his Loudon victory, spent the remaining 125 laps on Sunday looking for more corner speed. 8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse restarted 10th after the fifth caution flag, and he held on for his best Dover finish. 9 . Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Larson looked to play the spoiler when he moved into the top three in the final 100 laps, but a decision to stay out during the final caution flag hurt his chances. 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano advances to the next round of the Chase with his ninth Dover top 10. 11. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex, a Round 2 contender, climbed through the field after starting from the rear when NASCAR had a post-inspection issue with the flare on his side skirt. 12. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . " Man, it's never easy," Gordon told his team after a rough final restart. "I know that wasn't easy," spotter Eddie D'Hondt said. "But we did what we needed to" (to advance). For more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView . 13. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush-Fenway Racing. Biffle got sideways with 11 laps to go, but saved his car while running 15th . 14. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer recovered after dropping from eighth to 25th when he made an unscheduled stop on Lap 175 for a loose wheel. 15. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Crew chief Darian Grubb didn't want to risk the No. 19's spot in the next round of the Chase so he called his driver back down pit road during the sixth caution flag for a right-front tire issue. 16. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Around Lap 60, Keselowski was running 16th when he reported that his engine temperatures were dropping. He maintained and will compete in the second round of the Chase. 17. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . An issue with the left-front jack bolt caused Busch to lose ride height late in the race. The team corrected the issue but still had to make additional repairs during the Lap 374 stop under caution. 18. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin won the race off pit road after a four-tire stop during the competition caution, but his forward momentum was stalled because he was tagged for speeding. A second penalty sealed the deal, but he still advanced because he won Chicagoland. 19. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary pass after the third caution flag and managed to stay only one lap down as the race progressed. He advanced to the second round of the Chase. 20. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish and his team chased the handling of his No. 9 Ford all day, even as the track took on rubber. 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick worked with her team to help her No. 10 Chevy take off better around Dover's 1-mile oval. 22. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan, who fell off the lead lap by Lap 105, had previously told his team he was "too free on exit and pretty snug in the center." 23. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon's team made several chassis adjustments during the second half of the race to help him get into the corner better. 24. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears was running 25th during the first half of Sunday's race when he was hooked in the right rear and saved his car from spinning on-track. 25. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard rolled off the grid 14th and almost immediately went backward as he watched his first Chase run fade. 26. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart recently announced he'd retire from driving after 2016 to focus on ownership. But on Sunday, the driver of the No. 14 focused on pit strategy to improve his track position. 27. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier received the beneficiary pass during the competition caution, but spent much of the race looking for mid-corner grip. 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Like his teammate Brett Moffitt , Whitt discovered that his car improved around Dover as the 1-mile concrete oval took on rubber. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG-Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger was going too fast trying to get onto pit road when he spun up the track on Lap 311. 30. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland reported a tight-handling condition during the final 60 laps of Sunday's race, which his team worked to address. 31. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Halfway through a fuel run when the fifth caution flag was waved, Bayne elected to take the wave-around like most cars one or more laps down. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman and his team continually made adjustments on the No. 7 Chevy throughout Sunday's race trying to find balance. 33. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Already three laps down and in 36th, Sorenson told his team that he was "just racing the track right now" when they informed him leader Kevin Harvick was bearing down. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . "Holy crap," DiBenedetto said while running 37th on Lap 101 when he learned leader Kevin Harvick was on his bumper -- again. 35. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Long green-flag runs were a struggle Sunday for Yeley. 36. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. Wise sustained minimal nose damage after making contact with Jeb Burton on Lap 3. 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . During the fifth caution flag, Annett reported that his entry was neutral and he couldn't pick up the gas when he wanted to. 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy rolled off the grid 36th in his Dover debut. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports . Starting 43rd at the fast 1-mile oval made forward progress an immediate issue for Hill in his fourth Dover appearance. 40. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's fear that his engine was "letting go" was realized on Lap 372 and prompted the eighth caution flag. 41. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . A torn rear axle seal sidelined Johnson in his 500th Cup start and ended his quest for a seventh championship. 42. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Moffitt's lap times were improving as the track picked up rubber, but his car was "killed" when he blew a right-front and made hard contact with the wall to bring out the seventh caution flag. 43. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Burton spun on Lap 3 and cut a tire on Lap 192 to bring out the caution flag twice on Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr . thanks his team and sponsors for their help in winning the 2011 Nationwide Series Championship.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr . thanks his team and sponsors for their help in winning the 2011 Nationwide Series Championship.