Ford Performance NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Interview

Ford Performance NSCS Notes and Quotes

Brickyard 400 Advance – Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion, visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield media center to not only talk about a multi-year extension Roush Fenway Racing just signed with Sunny D, but about this weekend’s race.

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion – HOW WOULD IT FEEL TO CAP THIS WEEKEND OFF IN VICTORY LANE?   “It would be a great weekend to cap off this announcement that we just had about a multi-year extension with Sunny D.   Hopefully, we can do that and have a good weekend. I know the Sunny D Fusion is gonna look really good going down the front straightaway.   It’s really bright and one of my favorite paint schemes. Hopefully, we can have a good run with it, but it’s always special to be here at Indy.   It hasn’t been my best track, but I definitely want to change that.”

WHY IS INDY DIFFERENT FOR DRIVERS? “I think just this history and it’s a unique track. It’s not anything like a track that we go to.   It’s got its own characteristics even from one end to the other and it takes a long time to go down these straightaways. To look at the winners that have won here and the drivers that have raced here, and to see how this thing started with all the bricks – just the history of this place is so meaningful to all of us. It’s really what helped get motor racing on the up-and-up, so it’s cool to be here.”

LAST YEAR YOU HAD THE HIGH DRAG PACKAGE AND THIS YEAR THE LOW DOWNFORCE PACKAGE. IS APPLES AND ORANGES EVEN CLOSE ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE HOW DIFFERENT THEY ARE? “Yeah, I would say that’s pretty accurate.   Hopefully, the oranges will help us out this weekend from last year. The package that we had last year here and at Michigan we really struggled with as an organization. I didn’t feel like last year at Indy we had really a great shot at running well, but I think this year with this downforce package we’re gonna have a lot better opportunity to run well. It’s shown throughout this year on the mile-and-a-halves and some of the fast race tracks that the lower downforce package is definitely better for our teams.   We’ve got to go out there and not make mistakes. I think our last mile-and-a-half track we were all really fast. I made a mistake and got in the wall, but Greg and Trevor were able to come home with really good finishes at Kentucky and that’s even lower downforce than what we’ve been running, so as we look forward to next year and the continuation of hopefully less and less downforce, I think the better we’ll be. This year versus last year at Indy, I expect a big improvement.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?   “We’re definitely moving that way.   We never move as fast as we want to.   It’s a tough business. We made a big leap over the off-season. I thought at the beginning of the year we were making headway. I thought we plateaued for a little while and I feel like we’re back to making some ground up. That’s what we’ve got to continue to do. We can’t get set in our ways. The guys at the shop are still continuing to design and test and try to make sure that we’re bringing the best cars to the race track that we can each week, but in the long term looking to make sure that we’re better prepared to go into the off-season to make better cars for next year. So we’re still looking pretty far ahead of getting this program back to where we’re winning and contending for wins each and every week, but I think before it’s over with, we’re gonna be contending for wins this year.”

DO YOU SEE ANY CORRELATION BETWEEN POCONO AND INDY?   “Turn three and two are flatter corners.   I don’t really relate Pocono that much to Indy, but I thought our Pocono performance this year was better than it’s been in year’s past. Everybody else thinks that, so hopefully Indy will be a better improvement over year’s past as well.”

WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND AS YOU COME DOWN THE STRAIGHTAWAY AND ARE LOOKING STRAIGHT AT THAT TURN ONE WALL? “Indy is different. You’ve got a long time to think about it. We only come here once a year, and it takes me a minute or two and a couple of laps to get comfortable with what I need to do. Luckily, Trevor tested here. I can look at some of his data to figure out what he was doing at the test.   He felt like they made some gains at the test. They definitely weren’t the fastest, but not super-far off. Hopefully, after looking at the stuff this week I can jump out there and be good right off the bat. Going down in the corner you definitely feel like you need to hit the brake a lot, but you don’t have to hit the brake that much. You’re wide-open down the long straightaways for a long period of time and when you get down into turn one, you really want to use the brake a lot but, like I said, you don’t have to use it that much. It’s a fine balance of using less brake than you think, but still not over-driving the corner. It’s a fine line here. Turns two and four last year you didn’t really have to lift that much with the higher downforce. This year, I’m not sure. We’ll see here real soon.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.