Ricky Stenhouse Jr. added another notch to his belt with his win in the Coke Zero 400, but some experts suggest he still has some room for improvement.
A panel of experts on Motorsport.com suggested Thursday that Stenhouse still needs to get better at non-restrictor plate tracks before he has a legitimate shot at winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
“Stenhouse is enjoying the best year of his young career, but I think it’s reaching to call him a title contender,” Motorsport.com’s Nick DeGroot said.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver is locked into the playoffs with victories at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, and sits 16th in the standings. Everybody on Motorsport.com’s panel agrees that Stenhouse needs to improve at intermediate tracks, though Lee Spencer added that if he can, the 29-year-old is in a good position.
“If Stenhouse can survive the first round — Chicago, Loudon and Dover — Talladega is waiting for him in the next round,” Spencer said. “He certainly has a clear path to the third round.”
In addition, Tim Sothers reportedly thinks Stenhouse’s recent string of success also plays to his, and the No. 17 team’s, advantage.
“One thing is for sure, wins bring confidence and a new attitude to a race team and they’re hot and on a roll right now for sure,” Southers said.
After going his first four full seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series without a win, Stenhouse now has two through the first 17 races of 2017.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images