AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
For a change, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had no answers in a restrictor plate race.
As a result, the defending race champion had to settle for a fifth-place finish Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Joey Logano won, followed by Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick. Busch made a late move thinking Stenhouse would go with him and help him catch Logano.
Stenhouse didn't hook up with Busch and no one had a shot at passing Logano.
“I just wasn’t sure what to do there,” Stenhouse said. “I knew the 9 (Elliott) was going to try to get by us and we are all trying to get a win there. The 22 (Logano) was in a great position.
“When we got two-wide behind him, it didn’t slow him down much. We weren’t ever really gaining on him.”
Stenhouse won at both Talladega and Daytona last year, making him one of the favorites at the two tracks with the horsepower-sapping plates. His day was marred by two speeding penalties on pit road.
— Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) April 29, 2018
“It was a lot of fun out there today,” Stenhouse said. “I made a few mistakes on pit road and we caught some good cautions to keep us on the lead lap.
“I thought the racing was good. The cars were super tough to drive. They were sliding around everywhere, which was fun.”
While he had a good time hanging on the boulevard with fans, he couldn’t celebrate what would have been Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 67th birthday with a victory.
“I really wanted to win on Dale Sr.’s birthday,” Stenhouse said. “That would have been really cool.”
It capped a week when his race team added Matt Kenseth to share a ride with Trevor Bayne, who was knocked out in an accident. Roush Fenway hasn’t won in a non-restrictor plate race since 2014.