Stenhouse Jr and Roush-Fenway Racing Putting Focus on the Bigger Picture

Ricky Stenhouse Jr speaks with the media at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, June 29, 2019, prior to the Camping World 400 practice session. Photo – Jay Husmann for Fan4Racing Blog and Radio

Roush Fenway Racing driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr picked up his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series win at Talladega in the spring of 2017 and followed it up with another victory at Daytona in July that same year.  Since then, the No. 17 Fastenal Ford has been considered a favorite on the superspeedways but the Roush Fenway team is looking to elevate their entire program back to their championship contending form.  It just takes steps and time.

“All in all, I feel like we’ve had better speed in our race cars at the race cars we’ve struggled at,” says Stenhouse about the teams progression, “But then there’s still some race tracks like Pocono and Michigan that we still seem to be a little off of where we need to be.”

The organization has called on veteran drivers Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman to get some fresh ideas on some changes and direction for the team.  Kenseth returned to Roush Fenway for 15 races in the second half of last season to provide his insight and Newman came in to drive the No. 6 full-time starting in 2019.

“Ryan (Newman) is great,” says Stenhouse commenting on what his new teammate brings to the table. “I feel like he has a lot of great insight. He has been in the sport for a long time and seen ups and downs at different teams and how different teams work through those things. He has a lot of great feedback. He and I talk quite often about what he feels in his car and what he feels like he needs and vice versa. One of the things is that he is able to – which I have noticed when he was with other teams, even though they might not be very good – they are able to get good finishes. That is something that I need to tap into and make sure that we continue to do that same thing.”

With any kind of change and intention to make improvements, it takes time. Rarely does it happen or show up with big results overnight. It shows up in trends and a steadily upward direction to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I don’t feel stress,” Stenhouse says about the improvements with the team. “The runs we have had that have been good and are a lot better than we have had in the past, definitely and mile-and-a-half race tracks. We had about three races in a row there where we had some tires issues and then we had that incident at Bristol that cost us a lot. All in all, I feel like we have had better speed in our race cars at the race tracks that we have struggled at. There are still some race tracks like Pocono and Michigan that we still seem to be a little bit off of where we need to be.”

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr is confident in his No.17 team and the company.  The focus is still on getting into the playoffs while they continue to elevate the performance of their cars, starting with Chicagoland Speedway.

“This weekend… I feel like we could do something like Kansas where we get points in both stages and run up front and get a top-ten finish and we will be gaining those points that we need,” says Stenhouse Jr about making the playoffs this year. “For us, I think that is still taking it one week at a time and not panic yet but I think once we get through probably Kentucky we will kind of really know where we are at. I feel like Chicago, Daytona and Kentucky are really good tracks for us and we can kind of cut that deficit. If we can cut that deficit in those three races then it becomes about trying to be consistent and maintain it.”

Fans can watch the Monster Energy Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, June 30th on NBCSN.  The drop of the green flag has been moved up to 2 pm ET to avoid the potential of weather coming into the area.