• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Countdown to the Clash: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. looking for turn around in 2023

ByEvan McNelia

Dec 20, 2022
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. walks the grid

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bachman | Getty Images

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be back piloting the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet in 2023 after signing a multi-year extension with the team in June last season. 2022 was a tough year for Stenhouse as he finished with the second-worst standing position in 26th, with the lowest point total of his career. 

He ended 24 races outside of the top 20, not finishing in nine races, more than any other season in his career even though 2022 saw the introduction of the Next Gen car and was an adjustment for all drivers across the Cup Series.

Stenhouse is 35 and entering his 11th full-time Cup season. 2023 will be his fourth season in the No. 47 after being dropped by Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the 2019 season. In his first seven years driving the No. 17 car, now piloted by Chris Buescher, Stenhouse recorded 148 top-20s, 34 top-10s, 15 top-5s, and two wins in 252 races. 

His best season was in 2017, reaching the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs after recording his first and only Cup Series wins at the GEICO 500 at Talladega and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. He recorded 26 top-20s, 9 top-10s and 4 top-5s, placing 13th overall in points on the season. Two DNFs at Talladega and Kansas, the final two races in the Round of 12, led to his elimination from the playoffs. Stenhouse has not won a race since 2017 and before a semi-bounce-back year in 2021, slipped in the driver standings annually since that season.

2022 marked his worst finish in the standings since his sophomore slump in 2014 in which he finished 27th, just one year following his Cup Series Rookie of the Year season. 

At the 2022 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, Stenhouse ran the ninth-best time in qualifying and placed third in his qualifier race, entering him into the final race. He finished 13th out of the 23-car field in the main event after starting ninth on the grid. 

With a year of experience in the Next Gen car, which has helped even the playing field for smaller NASCAR teams, Stenhouse will be looking to return to form and find his way back into the top 20 more consistently. Now over five years removed from a Cup Series victory, Stenhouse is sure to be more than hungry, now 47 days out from the 2023 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.