Ford NNS Texas Advance (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Easy Feet Ford Mustang, currently sits atop the NASCAR Nationwide series point standings heading into Saturday night’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Stenhouse is the fourth points leader in the series this season after taking home Rookie of the Year honors last year. Stenhouse took time to talk with media members Thursday. 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SEASON SO FAR?  “This is cool. I have never done this. I could get used to coming in here and doing this weekly. Last time we were here in the old style car we led some laps and ran well and we feel like we have a better handle on these Mustangs this year and have been running really well with them. Hopefully we can do the same and lead the last one. We feel like we have a really good shot at it. We have had a consistent start to the season. We evaluated during this past week that we had off some of the things we need to work on the rest of the year to run consistent top-five and battle for wins. I feel like we have a good handle on it and am glad to be here in Texas.”

WITH THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM THIS YEAR IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES, DO YOU FEEL IT IS DOING WHAT IT WAS MEANT TO DO, SHED THE SPOTLIGHT ON YOUNG GUYS LIKE YOURSELF?  “I think it is. I think Nationwide Insurance and the Nationwide series have done a great job with it. I almost feel like it is a Nationwide regulars competition. We have more regulars in the top-five and running up there with the Cup guys. I think it is definitely giving us a lot more spotlight than what we had last year.”

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DOES IT BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE AS WELL?  “Definitely. Knowing that you are leading the points is cool. Everybody is saying we have an opportunity to win the championship and technically we had the same chance last season but just couldn’t do it. I feel like it is a little more of a reality to go in there and not have to compete with Kyle Bush and Carl Edwards for the championship. The way we are running this year though I feel like we could be in the hunt with those guys a little more than we were last year.”

HOW MUCH PRESSURE DO YOU FEEL BEING IN CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION TO GET A RACE WIN AND LEGITIMIZE YOUR SPOT THERE?  “I have thought about that. Coming into this year I wanted to win some races. I didn’t think we would be leading the points this early or ever after last year. Definitely I think we need to get some wins so that we can say that this was a legitimate championship effort. If we can get those wins with the Cup guys there, that is what we want to do. Not just on stand-alone races, we want to do it with the Cup guys racing.”

WITH THE RICKY VS. TREVOR WEBSITE, WHO IS ACTUALLY BETTER AT COMPETITION IN GENERAL, YOU OR TREVOR?  “I feel like I am. We have a lot of fun doing that. I guess I would say I am better and so far this year I have been better at the ones that really matter and those are on the race track. We have a lot of fun doing that. We kind of step each other’s level up. I feel like after I do something and then he does it and if we go back and do it again the level just keeps stepping up. It should be a lot of fun. Once we get in the summer and can go out and do some wake boarding and golfing and some other things I think it will be a fun website to keep checking out.”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT SITE TO EVERYONE IN CASE THEY AREN’T AWARE OF RICKY VS. TREVOR?  “It started last year. Kevin Woods had a Mark Martin doll and when Trevor came over to Roush Fenway last year I forget where we were but we beat Trevor and he put my face on there and Trevor’s on the back of it. Trevor didn’t like it and it kind of became a competition. Trevor and I do a lot of competitions no matter what we are doing. We were playing basketball in Phoenix this year and it got pretty competitive. By the way, I did win that even though we didn’t get it on film. We just have fun doing everything. Everybody at Roush decided they wanted to put it on the website and get us doing all the things we like to do.”

WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK. IT IS FAST AND THE TURNS ARE TRICKY, HOW DO YOU BALANCE PUSHING THE CAR HERE WITH TRYING TO BE CAREFUL TO NOT DO SOMETHING STUPID EARLY IN THE RACE?  “That is the key, to get it to the end. This race track is one that I have liked since I first got here. I think it is the first 1.5 mile track that I ran wide open last year an felt comfortable at. Obviously we have to navigate the bump in one and two but after Las Vegas with the bumps we went over in our Mustang there I think we have a good handle on that. I feel like it is a drivers track and you really have to stand up in the seat and use a lot of throttle. That is the kind of track I like. We have to be careful at the beginning of the race but if you are running top-five it is easier to keep your car in one piece for the end of the race.”

WHY HAVE THINGS STARTED SO MUCH BETTER FOR YOU THIS YEAR?  “A year of experience definitely helps. We are coming to places for the third and fourth time which has been a big help. We kept the same group of guys together from the end of last year and we were kind of on a roll last year. Everything was clicking and I felt like the chemistry between myself and my crew chief has gotten a lot better. Mike Kelley has done a great job organizing a team with a lot of confidence and really paying attention to the details when they are building our race cars to make them lighter and faster. I feel like I am focused a lot more and have more confidence and am just trying not to make the mental mistakes that can kill you.”

WERE THERE EVERY POINTS LAST YEAR WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE A RIDE THIS YEAR?  “Sure, there were times I started to question things. When I got pulled out at Kentucky I really started to question it. Jack (Roush) has done a great job of getting me to realize what is going on and where I need to put my focus and he has been doing this for a long time. I feel like he has helped me mature as a driver and get pretty fast. This sport is all about performing and I am glad we have the performance going now.”

ARE YOU A BIG BELIEVER OF MOMENTUM BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN HOT SINCE MIDDLE OF LAST YEAR? DO YOU BELIEVE IN THAT?  “I think momentum is a good thing. When you are running well and showing up every week with fast race cars in practice and fast cars in qualifying and the race. Momentum is a big thing and you try to keep on that roll. I am glad we are on the nine race stretch we are about to be on now. It was broken up the first part of the year but I feel like you don’t make as many mistakes when you get on a roll. I definitely like momentum.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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