Stenhouse Jr. Looking For First NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory This Weekend

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion, qualified a season-best third for tomorrow’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Stenhouse and crew chief Scott Graves spoke to Ford Racing this morning about their expectations on Sunday and what needs to happen for their team to be in Victory Lane.
 
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kansas
April 20 2013, Kansas City, Kansas USA.Ricky Stenhouse Jr..©2013, Nigel Kinrade.Autostock

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion – DID YESTERDAY’S QUALIFYING RESULT UP THE ANTE AS FAR AS EXPECTATIONS FOR TOMORROW? “I think so a little bit. We did test here and I felt like we were pretty good when we tested, but when you can go out and practice and be in the top-five and then qualify in the top-five – and you look at all of the other Fords, they’re very fast too, so I think that serves well for all of the Fords. I feel this is a track that I’m comfortable at and have run well at because we have a win on this track surface and track configuration, so that gives me a little confidence. It’s nice for the guys when we go out and they’re looking at the top of the board, instead of the middle of the board. That definitely is a plus, but we just have to make sure we do everything right to stay up there because it’s not just about having a fast car. You have to do everything right, so that’s going to be the key for us.”
WHERE IS THIS TEAM AT FROM A DEVELOPMENT STANDPOINT? “Communication is getting way better. I think we’re learning a lot each and every week. We’re learning a lot about each other each and every week, and I think we’re getting there. Obviously, it can always get better. I still think we’re making a few mistakes, whether it be me on the track or in the garage. There are things we’ve got to address and keep fixing, but that’s with every team. The communication and gelling of the team is in a good place, but it can always be better.”
YOU HEAR GUYS OFTEN SAY BEFORE YOU CAN WIN YOU HAVE TO RUN IN THE TOP-10 CONSISTENTLY AND THEN THE TOP-FIVE. DO YOU SUBSCRIBE TO THAT PHILOSOPHY OR CAN THIS TEAM CATCH LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE TOMORROW AND WIN? “I want to go for it. I’ll go from 20th to a win, I don’t care (laughing). I think you just have to hit your stride and hit it at the right time. We’ve had some bad luck lately, but we showed up here with a fast race car right off the trailer and if we keep it fast throughout today, that will be a lot better for us. We’re in a good position to start the race. If we do everything right, we can definitely contend for a win.”
 
SCOTT GRAVES, Crew Chief – No. 17 Zest Ford Fusion – HOW DO YOU FEEL THE SEASON HAS GONE TO DATE? “The first five races we did exactly what we were supposed to do. We went and finished every lap of the race and for those first five races we were finishing in the teens, which is kind of where we expected to be, and with that result we were in contention in the overall points. The last two races have been a disappointment, though. We got caught up in some of the restart messes at Martinsville, which it’s kind of hard to avoid that, and then at Texas we just had a left-rear tire go flat. Again, there’s nothing we could do about that on the restart, so that’s been a disappointment and now we’ve got some ground to make up.”
ONE OF THE WORDS RICKY HAS USED A LOT THIS YEAR IS ‘LEARNING’. DOES THAT PERTAIN TO THE WHOLE TEAM AND NOT JUST HIM? “Yeah, definitely. He’s learning the Cup cars and how to race with the guys at the Cup level – the difference between the Cup car and the Natinowide car with more power and things like that. So he’s learning how to manage that throughout a race and I know from my point of view being fairly new at the crew chief position I’m just learning how to actually manage the race and make the right calls and decisions, so it’s’ definitely learning on all of our parts at this point.”
HOW DO YOU FEELTHE COMMUNICATION HAS GONE OVERALL? “The communication is good. That’s one of the positive things through all of this, even the last couple of weeks, is that our communication is good. Even at Texas when we had the problem we went back out and didn’t stop. We kept learning. We were working on the car and trying things, adjusting things so that we had notes for when we go back, so, from that point, I think that’s good.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT RICKY AS A DRIVER? “Actually, he’s one of those drivers that’s giving you everything every lap. That’s what you want. You want someone who is going to just be driving really hard. Sometimes you have to try to tone that back a little bit and work on more of the finesse of the car, and I think that’s where some of the learning he talks about on the Cup side is how to manage that, but you definitely want someone who starts that way and then learns how to manage it. You’d rather have that for sure.”
DOES THIS WEEKEND HAVE A DIFFERENT FEEL BECAUSE OF THE TEST SESSION YOU GUYS HAD HERE AND QUALIFYING THIRD FOR THE RACE? “Yeah, obviously it’s an opportunity to win or get that first top-10 that we’ve been looking for. When you have the opportunities and have a fast car like we’ve got this weekend, we need to capitalize on it.”
WILL YOU EMPHASIZE THAT TO YOUR TEAM TOMORROW BEFORE THE RACE? “Definitely. That’s part of the theme for the weekend. I’d say as a group we all feel like we got beat up a little bit the last couple weeks and now it’s our time to go out and show them, ‘Hey, we belong here and let’s get some of that back and show them what we’ve got.’”

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Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson

About the Author:

Michael "Beach Mick" Hudson is the founder and Editor of Beach Carolina Magazine. Living along the coast of North Carolina, Mike has a passion for the beach and loves to bring news and events of the Carolinas to others around the world.

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