Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Valvoline NextGen Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, comes into the weekend tied for the points lead with Elliott Sadler. Stenhouse, who is going for his second straight series championship, spoke about what he needs to do to accomplish that goal.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT DEFENDING YOUR TITLE FROM LAST YEAR? “We feel good about it. We’ve got two practices down and we feel like we’ve got a fast race car. Our paint scheme looks cool and hopefully we can take them to victory lane because this is the first time they’re on the car this year. The guys did a great job during practice. They worked very hard and brought a fast race car. We’ve got our best stuff out here and we’re ready to go. I think we’ve got a car to beat tomorrow.”

HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH ELLIOTT SADLER? “We’ve got a good relationship. I felt like I learned a lot from him last year running for a championship – a lot of give and take. That’s what I learned from him last year – race clean and race hard. I feel like I go out there and I push the limits of our race car each corner every lap and do it all the way to the finish, which I feel has gotten us in trouble this year. I feel like we’ve been a great race team compared to last year, just pushing that extra effort has gotten us in trouble and dug us the hole we’ve been digging out of, but our relationship is great. I think it’s really no different than it was when we were running for a championship last year.”

DO YOU FEEL YOU WILL HAVE THE RESPECT OF THE CUP GUYS NEXT YEAR WHEN YOU START RACING IN THAT SERIES? “I can’t speak for the ones that don’t come and race with us on the Nationwide side, but I feel like the ones that come down and race with us, I feel like just because I go up and run with them next year that I’ve got respect from those guys. I feel like I’ve got respect from a lot of guys in the garage that I talk to, but that’s all part of it. I am gonna be a rookie next year. You will have guys that might push you around a little more, or at least try to. I don’t like to get pushed around very much, so I won’t take it too much, but it’s all part of going to another series. You’ve got to learn the guys you’re racing with. There are a lot of guys that don’t come down to race with us that I don’t know their tendencies to race around them, but that’s all part of the learning process we’ll learn next year. But I think we’ve got quite a bit of respect from most of them.”

Ford Racing