Ricky Stenhouse Jr. handling Valentine's Day

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. press conference at Daytona.

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Nationwide Insurance Ford Fusion – DANICA IMPLIED YOU ARE HANDLING VALENTINE’S DAY? “Yeah, I’ve got it. I think she did it last year.”

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR? “We went and ate dinner, but she made the reservation. I made reservations this year, so we’re good.”

Drivers forum: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Drivers forum: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Photo by: Trevor Horn

WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR WORK ETHIC? “I got mine from my dad. He made me work on my race cars and go-karts and everything growing up if I wanted to race. If I didn’t put time in the shop, I didn’t get to go race. He works 16-18 hours a day even still, building engines so he works really hard and I learned from an early age that if you want something you’ve got to work hard for it.”

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST WHEELS? “I had a little electric four-wheeler when I was younger, but I started racing bicycles when I was three. I got my first dirt bike when I was four.”

IS IT HARD FOR YOU TO HEAR THINGS LIKE RICHARD PETTY SAID ABOUT DANICA? “Yeah, it’s tough but she’s been going through it for a long time, so she can handle it better than others, I would say. I would not be happy if they were about me like that, so I think she handles it very well. I think she’s proved that she can drive these race cars. She’s still got a lot to learn. Heck, I’ve got a lot to learn. It takes a while to figure these cars out, but she handles it very well.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID IT TAKES ABOUT FIVE YEARS FOR SOMEONE COMING FROM OPEN WHEEL TO LEARN ALL THE NUANCES. WHAT DO YOU THINK? “If you look at my season, I’ve run a lot more races than she has in stock cars and last year wasn’t a great success for me, either. It takes a long time to figure these cars out and these guys have been doing it a long time. They’ve got a lot of experience at these race tracks and a lot of experience in these race cars. I think it’s very promising even looking at her Martinsville results. It’s not a superspeedway. It’s not a regular mile-and-a-half race track, you’ve got to figure out how to drive it, you’ve got to have finesse and you’ve got get your car going around the race track and she’s passed a lot of good race cars there and ran very well there, so I think she’s showed that she can do it.”

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PETTYS HAVE SAID WHAT THEY HAVE? “I don’t know. It was funny. Last year we were talking about Richard and Danica – me and her – my name is Richard too – and now you’re talking about Richard and her again, so that’s kind of funny. I don’t know what their problem is, but they have opinions and they like to talk.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE CHANGES FOR THIS SEASON? “I like the changes to our series and to our sport. I like the changes to my race team. I’ve got a lot of changes going on. I think this year is gonna be a great year for us. I think it’s gonna be a great year for NASCAR. I think the fans are really gonna be engaged. I was telling somebody earlier you always watch the Stanley Cup, it’s the best of seven. I don’t hardly ever watch hockey, but I always watch the Stanley Cup. And then obviously like our Homestead race, a Game 7 – everybody watches Game 7 whether you’ve watched any of the games before. So I think it’s gonna bring a lot of people to our sport that maybe wouldn’t regularly watch it and hope they enjoy what they see and come back next year and want to watch some more. That’s what I’m hoping and kind of see being able to happen and I think we’ve just got to go out on the race track and make a good show of it so that everybody enjoys it.”

YOU WIN A RACE AND YOU’RE IN THE CHASE. “Yeah, winning a race and you’re in, but winning a race is tough. It sounds really easy. I think we were probably closer last year to getting in off of points. I think we finished 19th in points and not 16 people won a race, so there are all different ways it can play out. I think we’ll be able to narrow that down when it comes close to time to end at Richmond, but I like the elimination races. Like I’ve told people, it’s not any different than any Chase I’ve been in before because I’ve never been in one, so it’s all normal for me as a new one coming into this series. It’s probably more for the veterans to get used to and to the change more than anything.”

ONE OF THE ELIMINATION RACES IS TALLADEGA AND YOU THINK THAT COULD BE MAYHEM. “It’s mayhem for anybody. If you look back at any of the races in the Chase, Talladega is in the Chase but if you have two other races that are good that are able to propel you to the next round, even if you crash at Talladega, I think this elimination event pays off the way they’ve got it set up. If you had a bad race at Talladega in the old Chase format, you could be out of the points situation. I think it’s neat and it’s gonna keep it interesting and clean the slate for people and Homestead is gonna be really interesting.”

DID YOU DO ANY SPECIAL SHOPPING FOR VALENTINE’S DAY? “No, I’m not gonna tell you. She didn’t have to make the dinner reservation. I ordered something and I’ve been looking for it and looking for it and couldn’t find it. This essential part wasn’t very expensive, but the shipping cost more than what I bought because I wanted to make sure I had it on time. There for a while I didn’t think I was gonna have it and then all of a sudden it showed up, so I got lucky.”

DID YOU WATCH THE WORLD SERIES LAST YEAR? “Oh yeah. I’m a big baseball fan, especially being with the Red Sox and them winning it.”

YOU ROOT FOR THE RED SOX? “Oh yeah. It’s not required. Highly recommended, but I enjoy going up there. Fenway Park is so cool with the history of it and just the history of Boston. It’s fun to go up there and catch games. I’m gonna have to get to a few more this year. We didn’t get to any last year. Every time we showed up in Boston they were always gone, so I’m looking forward to getting back and going to a few.”

HOW MUCH FENWAY IS THERE IN ROUSH FENWAY? “It’s tough. It’s kind of the board of Fenway Sports Group up there that works closely with Steve (Newmark) and our sales guys to help sell some of our races and that day-to-day thing. Jack and Robbie, they kind of handle the competition side, so we don’t need to see those guys as much, but they’re definitely involved.”

HAVE YOU EVER MET JOHN HENRY? “I have not. He was supposed to come to Daytona and then something happened, but I have yet to meet him. I guess I’m gonna have to go to a soccer game to meet him or something.”

DO YOU HAVE A BASEBALL BACKGROUND? “I played baseball, I used to play teeball and played coach-pitch and then some little league baseball stuff. I was a pitcher and catcher. I had a buddy that could throw really hard and nobody wanted to catch him, so I volunteered, but I played all sports growing up.”

ARE YOU A RIGHTY OR A LEFTY? “I write right-handed, but play all sports left-handed.”

ARE YOU IN A TOUGH SITUATION WITH THIS RICHARD PETTY DEAL BECAUSE IF YOU STICK UP FOR HER IT MAKES HER LOOK LIKE SHE CAN’T STICK UP FOR HERSELF? “She can handle herself, that’s for sure. It’s tough. Whether it be about her or your teammates, your team or yourself. You always want to step up and say something, but she’s so good at handling herself I just kind of let her handle it until I get drug into it, I guess.”

SHE SHRUGS OFF THE COMMENTS AND THAT’S REAL ISN’T IT? “Yeah. We may have talked about it once right when the comments came out, but as far as letting it worry every day, she could care less. She’s really good. Like I said, she’s got a lot of experience with it. She’s got a lot of people that talk bad about her. She’s got a lot of people that talk good about her. You’ve got to take the good and stick with it and be positive about it. I think somebody asked us if it makes you want to try harder. Race car drivers and athletes, we try hard every day, so I don’t think it makes you try any harder to prove anybody wrong. You want to go out and win for yourself.”

SHE HAS A LOT OF RESILIENCY DOESN’T SHE. “She gave me a lot of pointers last year coming into this day.”

YOU WERE ON THE HOT SEAT WEREN’T YOU? “Yeah, she gave me all the pointers last year. She handles herself really well and that’s something to be said for years of experience and going through tough situations. She’s able to pull through it, so I think she gives herself time to learn and her sponsors give her time to learn and her team and that’s really all that matters to her.”

WERE THERE ANY AWKWARD MOMENTS RUNNING FOR ROOKIE OF THE YEAR WITH HER LAST YEAR? “We had a few crashes last year and like I said in my rookie speech, I learned to apologize just really fast, whether I thought it was my fault or not, and we went on. I think that has to do with any relationship and any format, so it’s always my fault and just go on with it. Things seem to work out really well. I learned that after Charlotte, by the way. That was a quiet ride home, but it’s tough. I told her after Charlotte I said, ‘I didn’t touch you.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, but you kept it three-wide.’ I said, ‘Well, the middle car is supposed to lift.’ And she didn’t like any of those answers, so then I apologized. And she was right. I mean, her and Brad were racing for the lucky dog, I think, and I was more than one lap down so I didn’t really have any business being in that position. So she was right.”

Ford

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Interview
Tags daytona, ford, nascar-cup, ricky stenhouse jr.