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Stenhouse, JTG Daugherty Honored at Daytona 500 Winner's Breakfast

The Daytona 500 triumph is starting to sink in for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.


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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – All smiles and a maybe a yawn or two. Such is the morning after NASCAR’s Daytona 500 for the winning race team.

For driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the JTG Daugherty Racing team, Sunday’s double-overtime victory in the Daytona 500 was a game-changer. And all the members of this single-car team were ready to cherish the special time.

They all dutifully showed up for the traditional ‘Winner’s Breakfast’ at the Daytona International Speedway early Monday morning – a nice breakfast, a few more interviews and photographs, and then the really cool stuff.

Just below the stage where Stenhouse sat alongside crew chief Mike Kelley and team owners Tad and Jodi Geschickter, his race-worn, red-white-and-blue No. 47 Chevrolet sat in Victory Lane still dotted with pieces of red and blue confetti from the post-race celebration Sunday night.

Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher presented Stenhouse and the veteran Kelley with specially-designed custom leather jackets. And as Stenhouse put his on, he leaned into the jacket, grinned and declared to the crowd, ‘Smells like victory.’

The 35-year old Mississippi native – an 11-year NASCAR Cup Series veteran – also received a Rolex watch – just as the winners of Daytona’s famous Rolex 24 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series champions receive. Kelley – who was also Stenhouse’s crew chief on his 2011-12 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship - got a beautifully made trophy for his efforts leading the way. And the team owners got a replica of the historic Harley J. Earl trophy awarded to the Daytona 500 winner (fellow team owner Brad Daugherty wasn’t in Daytona Beach).

And then Stenhouse was called forward to participate in one of the most distinct winner’s traditions in sports. His hand, feet and signature were imprinted into a large, flat piece of concrete. By the time of Daytona’s next NASCAR Cup Series race in August, it will be laid alongside others from some of the sport’s greatest drivers – sitting by the Daytona 500 Experience museum just outside the track’s front grandstands.

Ricky Stenhouse Handprint Vertical

“It’s sinking in now,” said Stenhouse, whose win was his first trip to victory lane since 2017 when he won his first two career races – the spring race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the summertime 400-miler at Daytona while driving for the Roush Fenway team.

Stenhouse has had only nine Top-5 finishes in the five seasons after those victories; six Top-5s since joining the JTG Daugherty team. However, the two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion said he never once considered throwing in the towel. He could not be more committed to this team.

“Definitely, never thought about giving up,” Stenhouse said Sunday night. “I felt like, 2017 winning a couple races was huge for us, but I’ll even look back at that season and we still weren’t super stellar. We had our ups and downs. But obviously, two wins kind of puts a Band-Aid on some of those things that you can overlook.

“I think for me, coming to JTG Daugherty Racing was a nice reset. We had two cars at the time, moved to a single-car team, which I think has been beneficial. We’ve been able to put a lot of focus on the 47 car and everybody at the shop, I feel like the details are really paid attention to. We’ve got some of the best guys in the shop. … It’s super cool to get them in Victory Lane.”

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I feel like the details are really paid attention to. We’ve got some of the best guys in the shop. … It’s super cool to get them in Victory Lane

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

And the feeling was clearly mutual. Winning the Daytona 500 is not only a high point for NASCAR competition but for all of sports.

“We all did our part and are so blessed to be here, so happy,” the team’s fueler Arinze Obi said smiling as he watched the “next day” ceremonies having celebrated his first race win as a NASCAR Cup Series crewman in his first race with the team.

“This definitely means a lot. Last year he was a few laps from winning so this means a lot to our new crew chief, especially a small one-car team. I’m so proud to be a part of this team.”

For Stenhouse, that’s exactly the kind of optimism he’s feeding off.

“It’s super cool to get them in Victory Lane,” he said of the team. “We had a great moment this off-season, I feel like at a team lunch. Had a video put together and it put some of JTG’s wins in there, my wins in there and kind of helped us realize, ‘hey, we’ve both done it in our past, so it’s special to do it together.’ “

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