RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 6 Valvoline NextGen Ford Mustang

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN YOU DROVE BY AND SAW THE 2 CAR AGAINST THE WALL? “I didn’t really think anything. I just kept doing what we were doing all day. We worked really hard. Mike made some good calls – changing four there, staying out and leading a lap – all the guys on the Valvoline NextGen Mustang worked really, really hard and that’s what it’s all about. We’ve still got some racing to do. We’ve got one more race left. It was cool to have Edsel Ford here. Happy Veteran’s Day to everybody and thanks to Nationwide Insurance and everybody that helps on this car. It’s been a lot of fun, but we’ve still got some work to do.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

A GOOD DAY. “That was a great day for us. We contended, but I can’t finish better than third here. Maybe we can do that one day, but all the guys on the Valvoline NextGen Mustang worked really, really hard. Mike made great calls. I thought we were gonna have a shot there with the white flag coming out and the 18 and 20 were side-by-side. It was gonna be a lot of fun, but we had a great day and thanks to all the fans who came out.”

A 20-POINT LEAD ON SADLER GOING INTO NEXT WEEK. HOW DOES THAT FEEL? “That makes us feel good, but we’ve given up 20 points in one race, so it’s not over till it’s over. We’ve still got some work to do, but it feels pretty good.”

WERE YOU THINKING BIG PICTURE AT THE END OR WERE YOU GOING FOR THE WIN? “I was just doing what I did all day long. They acted like since the 2 car had to run a backup that it was gonna change our strategy, but we kept doing what we’ve been doing all year long and we’ve got one more race to do it in.”

WERE YOU CONTENT TO SIT BACK AND WATCH THOSE GUYS BATTLE IT OUT ON THE LAST LAP? “Heck no , we weren’t content. We were going for it. If we could have gotten up there and made it three-wide we would have, and that would have been a lot of fun. I was really hoping that we were gonna be able to get to that last lap and race it out, but, all in all, it was still a great day.”

MICHAEL ANNETT – No. 43 Pilot/Flying J Ford Mustang –

A CRAZY FINISH. “That’s typical Phoenix. It was good. The car started off and that first run was probably the best our Mustang was all day. We put on two tires and that made it a little too tight. We did left sides only in the spring here and that brought the car to life and it was the best the car was all night, so we tried that and I don’t know if it was a bad set or just the wrong setup to try it because the car was just horrible. We lost a lot of time there and then got a chance to come in and put four on and start all over where we started the race and the car was right back to where it was. Track position was obviously huge. We stayed out that last caution and some guys came in, so that put us in the top 10 and on a couple of those crazy restarts we worked our way up and a couple of them we lost a little bit, but on that last one I think we got a spot, so we’ll take it. We gained some points on the right go, so we’re going into Homestead with a little advantage there and we just need to finish it off like we’ve done the whole second half of the season.”

RICKY STENHOUSE PRESS CONFERENCE – “It was a great day. We had a fast race car. I messed up in qualifying there and we kind of started us a little deeper than we wanted to, but we can’t seem to finish better than third here. We need to work on that. We felt like there were times in the race that we had a car that could go win and other times we felt like we had a second or third-place car and we were able to finish top-three, which is not exactly what we wanted to do today, but it was a great points day and I think that’s what you’ve got to look at. We raced hard. We raced up front. Mike made great calls and it put us in the position we’re in, but we’ve still got a lot of racing left, so today was a great day. I thought the race track widened out and got really racy. That white flag lap was gonna be really fun if we could have done that without that caution, but, all in all, it was a fun day.”

ANY SENSE OF DÉJÀ VU WITH WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR HERE? “Yeah, I guess it happened last year. We were something like 15 points up coming in here and left 40-something ahead, so it’s not quite as good as it was last year, but we’ll definitely take it. But we’ve still got to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s a deal where we’ve given up 20 points in one race, so it’s not even close to over. We still have to make sure we do everything next week at Homestead. It’s gonna be tough because I’m gonna have to not push the limits as much as I like. I like going for race wins too, so it’s gonna be a fine balance there because I want to win that race and win the championship all at the same time. We were close last year running second there at the end and finished second, and kind of had to share the burnout stage there with Brad, so hopefully we don’t have to do that.”

DO YOU APPROACH NEXT WEEK ANY DIFFERENTLY WITH THIS LEAD? “No, we don’t. We show up to win every week. That’s what has gotten us in the position that we’re in. We’re not a team that like to go out and run conservative and run for top fives. We go out for wins. That’s what has gotten us to the position we’re in, but also it’s kind of gotten us in the position where we were tied coming in here. I think the mistakes that we made along the way, myself included, pushing for wins is kind of what tied it up coming in. I felt like we dug ourselves a hole throughout the year, but going for race wins and running hard is what got us back and that’s what we’re gonna keep doing.”

WAS TODAY A SCRAMBLE TYPE OF DAY? “It was exactly the day we needed. We thought we had a better race car than what we did, but it’s always tough to tell. You come down pit road and you put two right side tires on, you put two left side tires on and that’s stuff you don’t do in practice. We don’t have the tires to do that on the Nationwide side, so when we put four tires on I felt like we had a really dominant car. There for a few runs we got going and were able to run down the 18 on his back bumper and if he made a mistake we were gonna be right there to get him, but it was a solid day for us. We didn’t have to scramble near as much as the last two weeks, so that made it a lot nicer.”

DID YOU SEE SADLER’S CAR? “When that red flag was out I saw he was 22nd or so and I saw the video board there. I mean throughout the whole race I think they had the on board camera of the 2 car the whole race. Every time I went down the front straightaway I was kind of looking over just to look at it and see what was going on, so he was up there every time, so I saw it before that last restart.”

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT WINNING BACK-TO-BACK TITLES? “I’ve thought about it because we started the year out thinking about going back-to-back. It’s one of those things where the whole race team is going for it. We started the year off counting points as soon as we started and it would mean a lot to me to go back-to-back. I think as a race car driver you come out to win championships. You want to win races, but championships are what last for a long time. Last year was special. It felt like we didn’t have dominant year last year, so even though it was still a championship, it didn’t feel like a championship year. This year has felt like it’s been a championship year, so it would be huge.”

Ford Racing