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NASCAR Cup Daytona 500

Stenhouse, JTG Daugherty enjoy 'validation' of NASCAR Daytona 500 win

If Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s move to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2020 was a “reset,” then his victory in Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 could be considered a revival.

A timely caution following a strategic pass for the lead on the final lap of the second overtime preserved Stenhouse’s win in the NASCAR blue ribband, the first for the two-time Xfinity champion since the summer Daytona race in 2017.

It was a much-needed win for Stenhouse and his team, as he ended a personal winless streak of 199 races while the team took its first win since 2014 with A.J. Allmendinger at Watkins Glen.

The road to consistent Cup Series success has been a bumpy one for both driver and team, and Sunday’s result helps provide confirmation both are on the right path.

“It’s a battle and it’s a fight, and it’s hard. It’s not for lack of effort,” said team co-owner Jodi Geschickter. “We’ve come really close, so I try not to get our hopes up.

“When it was the last lap and there’s another caution, I just think, ‘Dear Lord, please, no. We need it. We need it, and we need it now. We need it tonight, we need it to happen.’ And it did.”

Stenhouse was is a similar situation in his career, having lost his ride with Roush Fenway Racing after his first two Cup victories in 2017 proved a false dawn. 

Stenhouse got a second chance joining JTG Daugherty in 2020, which has since become a single-car operation. The organisation struggled last year in the debut season for the Next Gen car, finishing 26th in the series standings. 

But, Stenhouse says, he “never thought about giving up”.

“I felt like, yeah, 2017, winning a couple races was huge for us, but I’ll even look back at that season, and we still weren’t super stellar,” he said.

Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Ben Earp / NKP / Motorsport Images

“We had our ups and downs. But obviously two wins kind of puts a Band-Aid on some of those things that you can overlook.

“But I think for me, coming to JTG Daugherty Racing was a nice reset. We had two cars at the time, moved to a single-car team, which I think has been beneficial. We’ve been able to put a lot of focus on the No. 47 car, and everybody in the shop.”

Sunday’s win now opens a slew of opportunities for the organisation, with Stenhouse now all-but ensured a spot in the 16-driver playoffs, providing an opportunity for him to win his first series championship and in turn shining an even bigger spotlight on the team.

“You work hard, you need to finish things,” Geschickter said. “For me, that feels like validation. That feels like a finish. We needed that. Our guys needed that. Our sponsors needed that.

“Kroger people have been with us for 16 years. They needed that. They needed to see us in Victory Lane. They needed to be there with us. I am just thrilled to death that we were able to do that together.”

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