Ford Performance NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Indianapolis Media Availability

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Page 1

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 John Deere Ford Fusion, comes into the weekend needing a win to make the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.  He spoke about his situation this morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

Shortly after his press conference, NASCAR announced that all track activity for Saturday was postponed.  In addition, Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been moved to 1 p.m. and the NASCAR XFINITY Series event rescheduled for Monday at 10 a.m.

 

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 John Deere Ford Fusion – HOW WILL IT WORK THIS WEEKEND IF YOU DON’T GET ANY PRACTICE AND JUST HAVE TO RACE?  “You’ve just got to go on your past notes, so my crew chief Brian Pattie is really good and I always feel confident in everything that he does.  I just get in and drive.  We’ve all made quite a few laps around here, so the driving aspect is not something that we really worry about.  We were here testing at the test, so I feel confident that we did get a lot of track time then, so that was good, but it’s more just you feel like you’re wasting time and hanging out.  You really can’t do anything about it, so it’s a bummer.”

 

WHAT DID YOU SEE AT THE TEST IN TERMS OF TIRE WEAR? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT COMPETITION CAUTIONS TO LOOK IT OVER?  “I don’t really remember how much tire wear we had as far as actually wearing the tires out at the test, but the tires that have a decent amount of fall off, which is something us drivers always look for and are always asking Goodyear and NASCAR to do is have a tire that does fall off and that you can come in the pits, put some new tires on, and gain an advantage and go back out on the track.  So from that aspect, I felt that there was tires that we ran at the test that were good for that.  As far as getting competition cautions, I don’t know.  Two sounds good.  I don’t know (laughing).  It’s hard to tell.  This race track is hard to tell how much rubber is actually on the track.  We all run the same line, but it’s generally somewhat the same color all the way across for most of the time – at least at the test it was anyway.  Over the course of the weekend it finally gets its own groove run in and you can kind of see the different shades of black where we run.  I wouldn’t think it would take too long to get that back down.”

 

HOW HAS MATT HELPED THE ROUSH PROGRAM AND HAVE YOU LEANED ON HIM AT ALL COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND?  “Obviously, Matt’s got a lot of good experience around here, so I will lean on him.  It’s something I was hoping to lean on throughout practice and throughout the weekend.  That’s always nice to be able to practice, have a break, sit down and talk about what the cars are doing, and then kind of go back out there and do it again.  It doesn’t look like we’re gonna be able to do that like I was hoping, but you still have a lot of experience and a few tidbits here and there that could be beneficial for sure to the 17 team, so that aspect I’ve looked forward to having it at all these race tracks.  At Darlington, we struggled a bit in practice and then their car was pretty good, so we were able to lean on them a little bit and then as far as the whole organization and where our cars are, it’s been just nice for me to have him kind of relay that same message of how our cars are driving, what they need to be faster, and we haven’t done a whole lot to fix the cars exactly where we want them yet.  We’re continuously building new cars as quick as we can, and that’s been input from really Brian Pattie, my crew chief, Matt, me, and Trevor and other drivers, crew chiefs, engineers that we have just kind of all putting our heads together trying to come up with a package that’s faster than what we’ve got.  It’s been good having Matt because he kind of helps expedite that process.”

 

DOES NOT HAVING PRACTICE THIS WEEK HURT YOU MORE THAN OTHERS WITH WHAT YOU HAVE ON THE LINE?  “I would say no.  I generally, and Brian always tells me I’m like, ‘Sometimes we never seem to make it better throughout the weekend.’  And he said, ‘Well, we have a full week to come up with the best possible setup,’ and then you get to the track and you get two hours to make it better.  So he spent all week making sure that he feels like we put the best setup in the race car, so I always tend to feel like sometimes we’re better off just if we lined them up and raced, so I’m OK with doing that.  This race last year was without being a Playoff race I thought was pretty crazy at the end, and something that I think now this being a cutoff race I think there’s gonna be a lot more strategies played and a lot more gutsy calls, especially if there are some cautions at the end – whether some stay out, take two, there are all different scenarios I think that could play out throughout this race once we get it going.”

 

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TAKE AWAY, EVEN IF IT’S JUST SHARPNESS, FROM RUNNING THE DIRT RACE?  “I think it’s definitely always nice to be in any race car throughout the week.  I’m sure I’ll go probably race go karts here at Sarah’s (Fisher) here pretty soon while we’re sitting in the rain.  I think, for me, I just always feel a lot more confident when I get to the race track if I’m racing throughout the week, whether it be a test or a dirt race, so to be able to come here Wednesday and Thursday and run over there at the Dirt Track was, for one, a lot of fun.  The track was awesome.  The rain kind of sucked on Thursday, but, all in all, it was nice to get some laps in and just do some racing.  I think it keeps me pretty sharp.”

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING TO VEGAS NEXT WEEK COMPARED TO JUST THE SPRING RACE?  “I think, for us, I’m looking forward to it.  I think that’s on slate for another new car, just more development that we’re trying to get done at Roush.  That’s one thing that over the last month that I’ve been looking forward to and anxiously getting to the track.  Last weekend, we had a newer car than what we’ve been running and I felt like it kind of paid off for us.  We had a solid race at Darlington, and it was nice to get our Throwback John Deere paint scheme up front.  That was our best career finish, so carry that momentum into here hopefully we’re able to do the same thing with our new John Deere paint scheme that we ran back-to-back weekends, so that’s cool.  But then obviously carrying that back into Vegas.  This is a different car than what we tested at Indy and we feel like it’s an improvement and we’re hoping we can see some improvement versus the test, and then the same thing at Vegas and just trying to continually improve.  You want to continue to improve at a high rate of speed, but it’s kind of difficult when the other competition is doing the same thing.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  I haven’t looked at the weather as far as track conditions go, but I hope it’s hot and slick.  I think Vegas is a really good race track when it’s hot and slick because you’re able to move around.  The bumps in one and two are pretty significant and in years past we’ve had race tracks where you could run really high.  The last couple years I feel like it’s been more, ‘Hey, let’s run the bottom.’  But, all in all, I really enjoy going to Vegas.”

 

DO YOU FEEL YOU’LL HAVE TO RAISE YOUR LEVEL OF AGGRESSION IN THIS RACE AND TAKE MORE RISKS?  “In the seat I feel like I’m gonna drive as aggressive and as hard as I do every week, even if every week you’re not watching us race for a win we’re all still really aggressive and trying to get every spot that we can.  The restarts at Darlington last week there was, I think, four or five of us on the same set of tires.  We took a couple wavearounds and we were all really aggressive trying to make sure we got the most out of our day that we could, so we’ll do the same thing come Indy.  Once we finally race I think my crew chief will probably be the one taking the risk and putting me in a different position.  If he puts me in a position that calls for pretty aggressive, then that’s what I’ve got to do.”

 

WHAT DOES THIS POSITION FEEL LIKE, ESPECIALLY COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?  “For one, it’s clear-cut what we’ve got to do, so throughout the race we’re not really worried about each stage.  We’re only worried about setting ourselves up for the end of the race because that’s all that really matters for us in this particular race.  Even if it doesn’t all work out we still have a tight race for trying to be 17th in points, and I think 17th in points would still be probably my second-best in points since I’ve been in Cup, so that’s something that I strive for to continually get better and make our stats look better.  So this season I felt like points-wise we’ve stayed in contention a lot better than we did last year.  Obviously, we had our two wins last year, I don’t really remember where we were in points as far as where we ranked throughout the field coming into the Playoffs, but I feel like this year we’ve actually put ourselves in a better position to make it in on points and it just hasn’t worked out that way.  I’m confident that I feel like we’ve had an off season.  We haven’t ran as well as what we wanted, but we still kept ourselves in contention to battle to get in on points, but definitely enjoyed it a lot more last year being locked in at this point.  At Richmond I never looked at anybody and felt like I wanted to be in that position, so we’re in it now, but that’s part of sports, it’s part of Playoffs and trying to make a run.”

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