Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Pursues Playoffs With NASCAR’s Fastest Cupcake

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Getty Ricky Stenhouse Jr. prepares for a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has one more opportunity to lock up a spot in the playoffs, and he will pursue this goal with a festive paint scheme. The driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro will show up for the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season finale with Funfetti on his stock car.

The race team revealed the new design on Tuesday, Aug. 24, continuing a season-long streak of bright and colorful schemes on the No. 47. The Pillsbury Baking brand will cover the stock car with sprinkles, brightly colored text and numbers, and massive cupcakes during the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC). Stenhouse will showcase the scheme while fighting for the checkered flag and an opportunity to pursue the championship trophy.

The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will mark the first time since Stenhouse joined JTG Daugherty that he features Funfetti as a primary sponsor. He has displayed several other colorful schemes throughout his two-year tenure with the team, including the Sunny D scheme at Sonoma Raceway and the Tide car at Darlington Raceway.

Stenhouse Faces a Must-Win Scenario at Daytona

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

GettyRicky Stenhouse Jr. (bottom) races in the 2021 Daytona 500.

The driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet Camaro currently sits 18th in the standings with one race remaining in the regular season. He is below the playoff cut line and will not have the ability to race his way into the playoffs. Only Richard Childress Racing drivers Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon are in the best position to do so.

The only way that Stenhouse can reach the playoffs is by winning the regular-season finale race. Fortunately for the driver of the No. 47, he has past success at the track. Stenhouse has made 18 starts at Daytona, posting three top-10 finishes, two top-fives, and a win. He took the checkered flag at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in 2017.

Stenhouse has improved at both Daytona and Talladega throughout his career while contending for the win. He previously attributed this growth to working with a new crew chief and learning more of the intricacies of speedway racing.

“Since being paired up with [crew chief] Brian Pattie, he takes a lot of effort, pays a lot of attention to detail when it comes to speedway racing,” Stenhouse told Heavy prior to the Geico 500 in April 2021. “And I feel like it’s made me a better speedway racer.

“Just learning over the years how the draft works, what you can do to manipulate other drivers and other cars to give yourself an advantage, then just trying to work and put yourself in the right positions. And get yourself out of positions when you feel like things aren’t going good. It’s just been something we’ve learned over time.”

Stenhouse Has Solid Odds to Win at Daytona

Prior to every race on the Cup Series schedule, BetMGM releases odds for the various drivers on the circuit. The list generally features Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott at or near the very top, but Stenhouse is among this group ahead of the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

The one-time Daytona winner will enter Saturday’s race with 20-1 odds to take the checkered flag and reach the playoffs. He sits in a tie with Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, and Aric Almirola. The drivers ahead of him are Kevin Harvick (18-1), Busch (16-1), Larson (14-1), William Byron (12-1), Ryan Blaney (12-1), Joey Logano (12-1), Brad Keselowski (12-1), Chase Elliott (12-1), and Denny Hamlin (7-1).

The list of contenders is top-heavy and features drivers that can succeed on tracks more than two miles in length. Byron, in particular, reached the playoffs in an exciting manner in 2020 by winning the final regular-season race and locking up his spot. Now Stenhouse will strive to repeat this feat and cover the Funfetti car with confetti.

READ NEXT: Subway Returns to NASCAR With Playoff Team

Read More