Ford Performance NASCAR: Stenhouse, Majeski Q&A Sessions at Bristol

Ford PR

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion, and Ty Majeski, driver of the No. 60 Sunny D Ford Mustang, held a joint Q&A session this morning at Bristol Motor Speedway to talk about this weekend.


RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Sunny D Ford Fusion – “We’ve got two Sunny D Fords this weekend, which is really cool.  Henk Hartong, who owns Sunny D.  He’s a huge race fan of Roush Fenway’s and to see him kind of cross both series in the same weekend is really neat  Like I said, he’s a big advocate of what we do at Roush Fenway Racing and helping his companies grow like he wants.  It’s been a good partnership.  Obviously, with the Zest company as well, when we had them on the car, but we also thought that this weekend my practicing hasn’t been going so well, so I figured I might let Ty practice my car and I’ll race it.  I’ve struggled in practice lately, so maybe that’s news to Ty.  I didn’t tell him that before we got up here, but that’s gonna be our suggestion.”


TY MAJESKI, No. 60 Sunny D Ford Mustang – “I’m excited to have Sunny D on the car this weekend.  I’ve always been a fan of the drink.  I got a chance to meet Henk, the owner of Sunny D down at Daytona last year and that was really cool to meet him and got to meet such a great partner of Roush Fenway Racing the last handful of years, and excited to carry the torch this weekend and hopefully we can give Henk and Sunny D a pair of good runs this weekend.”


RICKY STENHOUSE CONTINUED – WERE YOU ABLE TO TAKE SOMETHING POSITIVE OUT OF TEXAS DESPITE THE MECHANICAL ISSUE?  “Yeah.  I think we took some positives away that once we get everything right we’re capable of at least running on the lead lap, like you said.  That was a difficult race to stay on the lead lap, especially starting in the back like we did and only having a few laps on our car, so I think it gave the guys confidence that they can get the car right, even though we don’t have a ton of laps on it, but also we had some speed.  Texas was a good race for us last year and all the numbers and things that we look at we thought our benchmark was probably the same as it was last year.  It wasn’t our performance that was any better than last year, but it was nice because it was a step up from the mile-and-a-half race tracks that we’ve had so far this year.  That was a positive.  It was a bummer.  I thought we were sitting in a really good spot there, restarting third with newer tires.  I definitely wasn’t better than the 18 or 4, but we ran with the 4 at some points in the race when they had their issues coming back up through the field, so I was really kind of excited when that caution came out and we hadn’t pitted yet because I felt like we were probably a 10th to 15th-place car before the caution came out, but track position means a lot there and it kind of knocked the wind out of our sails.  I was hoping I was gonna have a good finish and a good run coming into Bristol.  All of the guys that we were kind of racing for that 16th, 15th position in points all had issues and I thought we were sitting there looking really nice, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.  We are at one of my favorite race tracks now, so that’s good.”


TY MAJESKI CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY?  “First of all, I’m just very thankful for the opportunity everyone at Roush Fenway and Ford Performance has given to me and Austin and Chase as well, just an opportunity to prove ourselves in this series.  My mentality is just to take it as another race.  I’ve been racing late models for a long, long time and I’ve won quite a few races and I just take this as just another race.  I think that’s the mentality you’ve got to have.  You’ve got to go in with an open mind, just trying to learn everything I can.  I did a lot of studying and preparation coming into Bristol.  I watched the last two XFINITY races here multiple times and watched Dartfish in qualifying and leaning on Ricky as well.  He’s always open to answering any questions that I have, so just leaning on my resources and trying to be as prepared as possible.”


RICKY STENHOUSE CONTINUED – HAS SHORT TRACK RACING GOTTEN LESS PHYSICAL LATELY?  “I think all of us don’t like tearing race cars up and I think we all have a lot of respect for each other out there and have a lot of respect for the teams and the crew guys that are building these race cars that you don’t want to just go tearing up people’s cars, but I think if the opportunity lends itself and you have an opportunity to move somebody out of the way for the win, I think you’ll definitely see that.  But, yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s less physical.  I think it’s just a little bit smarter racing.  It’s tough to really get to somebody and move them.  It seems like our cars, even at short tracks, you’ve got dominant cars and track position means a lot.  You have a handful of guys that can go to the back at a short track and run up through the field pretty quick, but you don’t have many of those so you kind of ride in line where your speed is.”


DO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO A LOT OF THE NEWS OFF THE TRACK LIKE SPONSORS, NEW RULES FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE?  “No.  I’m not on the Driver Council, so I don’t really have to pay attention to any of it.  The drivers that are on the council kind of keep us updated and send out stuff to us when things are getting ready to be announced.  The pit gun issues, I have no clue what’s happened to some of the pit guns.  My team, I think, has fortunately been OK so far with pit guns.  The aero package, I found out I think a day before it went out, for the All-Star Race.  We were actually talking in meetings at the shop and I was talking about things I wanted to try to get our mile-and-a-half program better, things I wanted to build into the car for Charlotte for the All-Star Race and they were like, ‘We think it’s gonna be a little bit different than what you think,’ so I was like, ‘Thanks.’  So I found out about that and then obviously the title sponsor.  I think Monster has done a great job and I’ve had a lot of fun with them, so I enjoy them being a sponsor of ours and our series, but as far as really paying attention to it, no, I don’t.  I show up at the track and get in the car and if I pull into the pit stall and they start using electric DeWalt pit guns, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s the same for everybody.”


THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND NEXT WEEK?  “Richmond has been a good race track for us over the last few years, so I really look forward to going there.  The tires that Goodyear has been bringing there has been allowing us to run all over the race track – the very top, the very bottom.  I do like the day racing there better than the night racing, but, all in all, it’s still a great short track that we go to and definitely a lot of good racing.  I think the crew guys are anxious to kind of see the transformation of that place on the infield and it will be cool to see.”


WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE ALL-STAR FORMAT?  “Is the format different too?  I only know the aero package.  I think it’s interesting.  I do think we’ll have to see how it plays out.  I think the racing will probably be a lot closer.  I do think that when you reduce the speeds the handling isn’t as big of an issue and so I think the racing will be probably a little more intense.  We’ll just have to see how the fans like it.  I think that’s the biggest thing we want to do is to make sure the fans enjoy our races and, however that may be, I think is something we need to look at.”


HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE IS IT FOR TY TO RUN A LIMITED SCHEDULE VERSUS WHEN YOU WERE THROWN INTO IT?  “Yeah, 2009 I ran seven Nationwide races and that was tough.  I had a few in a row and I kind of felt like I got in a rhythm and felt really good, and then you sit for a while.  That’s always tough.  You feel like the cars are always changing.  You’re always out there.  The guys that you’re racing with don’t really know who you are, especially in that car now that they have three different drivers.  It’s just a whole lot of different situations come up that I feel like you have to be aware of and have to be ready for.  I think Ty does a really good job showing up at the race track even when he’s not in the race car.  I think that’s gonna go a long way and help making sure that he’s meshed in with the team.  He’s at the shop all the time, things that I did when I was in the XFINITY Series – just spending a lot of time with the whole shop from top to bottom, but especially the crew guys.  I think him having Mike Kelley as a crew chief is something that’s really gonna help the 60 car and those new drivers going in and out of the race car.  Mike’s experience, I’m really looking forward to seeing Ty run here.  I think Mike and I had a few that we let slip away and I know that he’s wanting to get those back and he’s probably already told Ty that already, but they had a really good test here and I think him having Mike leading that charge is really good, but it’s definitely difficult to go in and out of the race car and not be in that race car multiple weeks in a row.”


TY MAJESKI CONTINUED – DO YOU GET ADVICE FROM RICKY?  “For sure.  Ricky has run really well at Bristol in the past. I also got some good advice from him last year at Iowa.  We went there and tested, I think, in late May and gave him a call after the first day of the test and just leaned on him and asked him some of the things he focused on at Iowa, so he’s been there for me – any type of questions I want, whether it’s on track or off track related he’s been there to answer them for me.”


WHAT WILL BE AN ACCEPTABLE PERFORMANCE FOR YOU TOMORROW?  “The biggest thing is to just put a whole weekend together and a whole race together.  I felt like we had spurts of being able to maybe run in the top five at Homestead early on and we just didn’t keep up with the race track as the sun went down and as the track got rubbered up.  That’s something I’m gonna get better at is knowing where the car needs to be in the beginning of the race to be good at the end of the race.  With four XFINITY races and my first one ending short, it’s been a learning curve for me just to know what kind of feedback to give to Mike to make sure the car is good at the end of the race.  That’s something we’re gonna build on for sure, and something we’ve been thinking about coming into this weekend and hopefully we can put those things that I learned the past three races and make for a good fourth here.”


HAS ANY OTHER TRACK YOU’VE RACED ON PREVIOUSLY PREPARED YOU FOR BRISTOL?  “Not really.  There’s one short track up in Wisconsin, Slinger Superspeedway, it’s a quarter-mile banked like this, but you don’t get the same speed sensation there as you get here.  It’s half the size of this and you’re doing it in about 11 seconds.  Here you’re going like 15 seconds a lap, so the speed sensation is great.  It’s something I had to get adapted to when I came here for the test, so I’m just very thankful we were able to come here and test.  It shortened the learning curve so much for me coming here on race weekend, so I’m optimistic.  Like Ricky said, we had a really good test here.  I think a lot of guys in the organization are excited about what we came home with from the test and we’re coming back here with something very, very close, so hopefully it responds the same and we can go to work during practice and keep making adjustments and making our car better.”


Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 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.