Ford Performance NASCAR: Fontana (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Media Availability)

Ford PR

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

Friday, March 15, 2019


EVENT: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver Availability (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)


RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang — WHAT ARE YOU THINKING SO FAR THIS WEEKEND? “We struggled a little bit in practice, mainly getting a handle on the car. The wind is tough for everybody in three and four. I think the wind seems to be kind of shifting a little bit. That is something that my spotter will keep me informed on, especially when we are rolling off pit road for qualifying. For us, I think it is just all about timing. The car lengths from the car in front of you, to time that draft just right. The first run I got way too close but at Vegas and Atlanta I didn’t get close enough. It is all about timing that right.”


WERE YOU EXPECTING THE KIND OF SPEED YOU HAVE HAD EARLY THIS SEASON? “Yeah. I think we did expect it. We knew that these cars fit my driving style maybe a little bit better. We also knew it was an opportunity for us to kind of close the gap on the competition downforce and drag and car build-wise. I think we have done a good job this offseason taking steps in the right direction but I think every race this year you see teams kind of go up and down. Gain speed, lose a little speed. It will be a cat and mouse game for the first half of the year of everybody just trying to figure out what package and how much downforce they are going to bring to the race track on that given weekend. Definitely a good start for us and we want to keep that going.”


IN RETROSPECT, WAS THERE TOO MUCH DOWNFORCE ON THE CARS AT PHOENIX? “I don’t really know. I feel like Phoenix kind of just races like Phoenix no matter what package you have. It has always been tough to pass. I don’t think the package made it any worse to pass. I feel like it is just a product of Phoenix.”


WHAT DO YOU EQUATE THE STRONG START OF THE SEASON FOR ROUSH FENWAY RACING TO? “A clean slate of a car build and rules. We have tweaked rules here and there throughout the last few years and nothing really major for us to jump some hoops and catch up but I felt like everybody was building cars and thrashing and kind of trying to figure out what direction to take your car in, you car builds. So far, every car build we have had has been a little different for every race track, depending on the surface and size of the track. We came to Fontana with a package that we thought would be good, but now we have had to alter it a little before qualifying and see if we can get our car going around the corner a little better. We thought it would go around the corner with maybe a little bit less downforce than what we have had. It has shown with the wind and track conditions that you definitely have to do some work to it.”


WHAT HAS BEEN RYAN NEWMAN’S EFFECT ON THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE AND YOU AS TEAMMATES? “I like Ryan. I think Matt (Kenseth) and I said a lot of the same things in different ways. Kind of like Ryan. He talks way different than Matt did or any teammate I have ever had. I think some of that comes from a little more of an engineering minded driver, which you don’t have many of. I have never had a teammate like that. To listen to him talk about and pick apart the car in different ways has been kind of cool. Our relationship off the track has always been really good. It has been enjoyable so far.”


HOW WILL THE PIT ROAD SPEED IN QUALIFYING CHANGE WHAT YOU DO? “That has always been a rule, they just never enforced it. When we first started doing this qualifying, I remember my spotter telling me, ‘Hey, leaving our pit stall, it takes you say 1:40 to get to the start-finish line to get a lap in.’ But it has always been you have to run pit road speed or you come back for a pass-through. That went out the window somewhere along the way. I think it is good. I think it is definitely way safer for people on pit road. We were about to crash cars at Vegas and Atlanta and places like that. It probably wouldn’t have changed Vegas as much because what we did was kind of leaving pit road already, but I do think it is a good thing.”


ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP THE CAR ON COMING TO PIT ROAD TO KNOW HOW FAST YOU ARE GOING? “No, we creep coming to pit road. We are generally pretty slow. It is mainly for getting your car cooled off to make another run in qualifying, but you have to leave with enough time to know you have to do pit road speed. That is the only change. You just have to leave your pit stall a lot sooner than we have in the last year.”


HAS THE ELIMINATION OF THE XFINITY TEAMS PUT THE FOCUS BACK ONTO CUP AT ROUSH? “Yeah, I feel it has helped a little at our place. It is a bummer to sit and watch the Xfinity races and not have a Roush car to pull for, especially knowing how many Jack has won as a team. Hopefully we can get that back sooner than later. I would love to run a handful if I could. I do think that as far as building cars, we solely build Cup cars now and a lot of that is ours and some with Front Row. We are able to really hone in on what we are taking to the race track every week.”

WE HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT OF YOU AS A SHORT TRACK GUY GIVEN YOUR BACKGROUND. DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF CONFIDENCE GOING INTO MARTINSVILLE? “No. It has statistically been my worse track by far. We have always had a lot of brake issues going to Martinsville with me as as driver in our Cup cars. Roush’s Cup cars have never been strong there. I remember Biffle finishing seventh there and standing on the door acting like he won. It has always been kind of a tough place. My first year with Pattie, we didn’t have any brake issues and finished 10th in both races. I know that when we get our cars right we are capable of running well there. Now, on the other hand, it is Brian’s favorite track we go to. He gets mad when I tell him I could care less about going. That being said, I do know that if we get it right that we can run well at Martinsville. Short tracks and 1.5 mile tracks, in Xfinity it didn’t really matter what race track it was as long as your car was capable of winning you just won on them so we won on all kinds of race tracks in the Xfinity Series and hopefully we can get our cars back to running well at all race tracks.”