Mechanical Issues Disrupt Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Qualifying Effort

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Getty Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did not post a qualifying lap at Phoenix.

The driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet Camaro has dealt with some early issues at Phoenix Raceway. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was not able to run a qualifying lap due to a mechanical issue and an engine change.

The No. 47 completed the 20-minute practice session at the one-mile track as Stenhouse posted the 18th-fastest lap time at 27.736 seconds. However, the team pushed the stock car to the garage after the session came to an end. Stenhouse then explained that the team had to change the engine.

With Stenhouse not able to post a qualifying time, he will have to drop to the rear of the field for the Ruoff Mortgage 500 NASCAR Cup Series race on March 13 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). Though he will still have a guaranteed spot on the starting grid due to driving a chartered entry.

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Stenhouse will have to navigate his way through a packed field at a track where he has some previous success. He has made 18 starts at Phoenix Raceway in his Cup Series career and posted two top-10 finishes. His best outing was a fourth-place run in 2017 for Roush Fenway Racing.

Multiple Teams Lost Crew Members After Inspection

One of the early trends of the Gen 7 era is that multiple teams fail inspection on a weekly basis. This continued at Phoenix Raceway as nine entries failed inspection twice and lost a crew member.

According to a press release from NASCAR, The No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Tyler Reddick, the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford of Garrett Smithley, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Christopher Bell, the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Todd Gilliland, the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Cole Custer, the No. 42 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet of Ty Dillon, the No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet of Erik Jones, and the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet of Landon Cassill all failed inspection twice but passed on the third time.

The ejected crew members included car chief David Alexander (Reddick), car chief Nate Bellows (Busch), car chief Robert Valentinsen (Smithley), car chief JR Norris (Cassill), car chief Tony Cardamone (Custer), car chief Chris Sherwood (Bell), engineer Troy Raker (Gilliland), engineer Danny Efland (Jones), and car chief Cam Strader (Dillon).

Stenhouse Can Continue His Consistent Start to 2022

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

GettyRicky Stenhouse Jr. (left) has showcased speed during the first three races of 2022.

While the driver of the No. 47 crashed during the Daytona 500 after some contact from Brad Keselowski, he has turned heads during the first three weeks of the season. The reason is that he has showcased speed and led laps.

Stenhouse has run in the top-10 throughout the first few weeks while adjusting to his role as the only driver for JTG Daugherty Racing. He has one top-10 finish, which he posted at Auto Club Speedway. Stenhouse also has 14 stage points on the season, tied for 11th in the Cup Series with Ryan Blaney.

Stenhouse is off to a stronger start in 2022 than in 2021 when he didn’t crack the top-10 until the seventh race of the year (second in the Bristol dirt race). Will he continue to contend for stage points and top-10s at Phoenix Raceway? Having to swap out the engine will put him at a disadvantage, but he will have the opportunity to continue pushing at the one-mile track.

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