Elkhart Lake, Wis. (June 24, 2011) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. visited with members of the media today prior to practice at Road America. The following is a transcript of that press conference.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 6 RickyvsTrevor.com Ford Mustang: “It’s going to be different because you’ve seen with these new cars because when you do get off in the grass it’s got a really good opportunity to rip the nose off of it and do a lot of damage, unlike the car that we had here last year. I don’t think we’re going to see as many cautions as we did last year or big red flags like we had last year which hopefully the fans will enjoy that a little bit more. I know the drivers will. It’s going to be a good race. I like Road America. This was the first road course I ever came to. Back in 2006 I ran an SCCA race here and kind of got my feet wet in road racing here. It was a joy to come back last year. I already know the area and the racetrack and I don’t think there’s a more beautiful looking racetrack out there than what we’ve got here. You’re headed down the back straightaway and doesn’t even feel like you’re on a racetrack. It’s going to be interesting; it’s going to be a lot of fun. We done some testing with Billy Johnson, who runs Jack’s [Roush, car owner] Mustangs and helped me out quite a bit, so we’re looking forward to a good race here. Our main focus is going to be a top-10 and whatever else we get after that will just be a bonus for us. It kind of pumps you up coming here I think. When you get in the race and you look around as you’re driving around under pace laps and you see all the fans that come out here I think that’s one of the cool things about Road America is all the people that come out to support it. I know it pumps us drivers up and it’s good for us. We’re really looking forward to the race.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE IDEA THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOCK THE FRONT OFF THE CAR? “Last year we just had a valance that just kind of came down and it was just a little bit of bodywork, it would bend it up just a little bit. But with the splitter that we have on these cars now they tend to dig in and especially when we have all this rain it make the ground a lot softer. You saw Carl [Edwards] after the All-Star win rip the nose off his car going through the grass. We just don’t want the nose digging in the ground and I think that’s one of the reasons why you’re going to see less cautions. People are just more cautious to running off the racetrack.”
WE MANAGED TO HAVE A COUPLE OF NON CUP GUYS ACTUALLY WINNING RACES IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES LATELY. IS THERE A PARTICULAR REASON THAT’S HAPPENING NOW? “I’m not real sure if there’s a particular reason but one of things is this year this car is new for everybody. Nobody has any more experience than anybody else and I think every single one of the Nationwide guys is getting better and better and getting more experience. I know this year some of the racetracks we’ve been to I’m going to for the second time and I’m learning a lot and I’m sure everybody else is. I think what Nationwide Insurance has done and wanted their own identity in this series, I think they’ve done a good job with it and now that we’re running for the championship I think everybody steps up there game a little bit more so I think it’s a little combination of everything.”
YOU’VE GOT A COUPLE OF GUYS, YOU AT THE TOP OF THE STANDINGS AND JUSTIN ALLGAIER NEAR THE TOP, WHO COULD HAVE GONE EITHER WAY IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. YOU WERE GUYS ON YOUR WAY UP. YOU HAD YOUR UNCERTAINTY WITH JACK AND JUSTIN HAD A GREAT DEAL AND THEN THE MONEY DISAPPEARED. YOU GUYS COULD JUST AS EASILY BE UNEMPLOYED AS YOU COULD BE RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP. COMMENT ON THE FINE LINE BETWEEN MAKING IT AND NOT MAKING IT. “This sport’s tough. You know, obviously, it’s all based on performance and sponsorship dollars and you’ve got to have the performance there to have the sponsorship dollars. I can’t speak for Justin. I know he was pretty bummed last year after the whole deal went down but obviously he landed with a great team and they’ve got good equipment and they’re running well over there. As for myself, I’ve just got to thank Jack Roush and Ford for sticking with me and the Blackwell Angus Beef company. They came on board after we’d had already had the bad run early in the season. They came on at Daytona halfway through the year and they ended up kind of riding the good wave with us. We started running well with ‘em. It’s tough but when Jack is committed to me and he talked to me about it a lot last year. He said it was more tough on me than it was on him but I don’t see how that can be [smiles]. He was pretty upset a few times. He just gave me the opportunity to turn it around and get more experience and not many people get that opportunity but Jack Roush definitely gave it to me and very fortunate that he did.”
WHEN YOU MAKE A TURNAROUND LIKE YOU DID, IS THERE A MOMENT WHERE THE LIGHT GOES ON OR THE GAME SLOWS DOWN OR IS IT MORE OF A GRADUAL THING? “I feel like it was more of a gradual thing. I don’t feel like I changed a lot in what I was doing. You know, I might have been thinking about things a lot more as far as while I’m out on the racetrack thinking through different decisions but as far as actually driving the car for speed and things like that I don’t feel like I changed too much. Our equipment got better toward the end of last year. I started getting the motors that Carl was getting and we started getting better cars. When we started finishing races we were able to work on the cars instead of fix ‘em. And I think that was one of those gradual things that got us better, too.”
COMMENT ON CONFIDENCE FOR YOU AND THE TEAM. “Yeah when we came here last year I didn’t have any confidence [smiles]. But like everybody said this was kind of the turning point of the season last year and when we ended the season I don’t think anybody had any more confidence than we did, as a team. And that’s the thing that’s kind of carried over to this year is those same guys that stuck with me through last year, they went through the bottom and came back out with us and we have the same group of guys that we have today. I think we appreciate things more but they’ve got the confidence that we can get this done.”
WITH LESS OF THE REGUALR CUP GUYS HERE THIS WEEKEND, DOES THAT CHANGE THE DYNAMICS OF THE RACE? “Man I don’t think so because you don’t have the Cup guys there but you’ve got some really good road racers here. It’s just like going to an oval and the Cup guys coming down. Those road course guys are really good. They can take less equipment and run really well with it and you’ve got some of ‘em in really good equipment. It’s just like having all the Cup guys down here for us [smile].”
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating seven motorsports teams. Four in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; and three in the Nationwide Series with Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Trevor Bayne. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. Become a fan of Roush Fenway Racing on Facebook by going to http://www.facebook.com/roushfenway and follow us on Twitter @roushfenway. For sponsorship inquiries please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.