Jerry Markland / Stringer
Ricky Stenhouse and the number 17 car are already having a tough time in Phoenix.
Stenhouse experienced a lockup going into turn three and hit the wall during practice. The hit was hard enough to force the team to use their backup car. Last year, this would be a small setback, but this season, new rules make it a bigger deal.
The previous rules allowed for a driver to keep his or her place as long as the car used for qualifying is the same as the one used in the race. Now a car that is crashed or experiences an engine failure at any point during the race weekend will send the driver to the back of the pack for the race regardless of qualifying.
Now that Stenhouse will start from the back of the pack, it will be interesting to see his approach to qualifying. It won’t determine his starting spot, but it will be vital practice in a backup car. Plus, it’s not easy to tell a racer to ‘take it easy’ once he is behind the wheel on a track.