It’s been three years, two months and one day since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won a NASCAR event. But the Roush Fenway Racing driver got to celebrate a race win Saturday.
Stenhouse, driving for Tim and Clauson, beat his team owner in USAC’s inaugural Junior Knepper 55, a USAC Midget Special Event at the indoor Southern Illinois Center in DuQuoin, Ill. The win came after battling Bryan Clauson for the lead.
Stenhouse, the 2007 USAC National Sprint Car and National Midget Rookie of the Year, won the 55-lap race (the lap total honored the number used by USAC team owner Walter Knepper) after being involved in a first-lap crash. He then battled back from 20th to fight Bryan Clauson for the lead after a restart with four laps to go. He took the lead a lap later.
“I ran it in as hard as I could on that restart and knew that if I could get a good run off of two, I could slide him,” Stenhouse told usacracing.com. “I thought I would clear him, but he just hung right there with me. I had to go back in my head and think what I would do back in 2007 running USAC. It was eventful, and it was such a blast. I passed some cars top and bottom, but I was shocked when I saw (Tyler) Thomas and (Joey) Saldana crash, and knew then we had a shot.”
The race was the first full USAC Midget race on dirt indoors since a 1990 race at the Reno (Nev.) Livestock Events Center.