Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the current NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader, met with media members at Bristol Motor Speedway after the final NNS practice of the day in anticipation of tonight’s race.
HOW WAS PRACTICE THIS MORNING AND WHAT CHALLENGES WILL YOU FACE TONIGHT? “Our No. 6 Fastenal Mustang is really struggling right now. We changed a lot there in practice and couldn’t seem to get a handle on it. We are struggling with getting it to turn through the center and not be so tight up off. We are struggling but the good thing is our teammates aren’t too bad. Trevor and Carl are pretty good so hopefully we can learn something from them. We just have to get this thing to turn so we can be as good as we were here the last race.”
YOU HAVE AN EIGHT POINT LEAD BUT IT CAN ALL CHANGE QUICKLY AT BRISTOL. WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING IN? “It can. Obviously we wish our car was faster so we could be up front. We are going to change everything and hopefully be up front. It seems like if you can stay up front here and stay out of trouble it helps your whole race. I watched the truck race the other night and when you are 15th, 10th-15th, it seems like that is where everything happens. Hopefully we can stay up ahead of that area and just really come away with a good solid run. After practice, a top-10 would be good for us. Before practice we were hoping for a top-five or a win. You can never tell. The guys are going to work really hard on our Mustang and try to get it up front.”
THE THREE OF YOU GUYS ATOP THE POINTS STANDING HAVE BROKEN AWAY FROM THE PACK A BIT. DO YOU THINK THE THREE OF YOU WILL BATTLE THIS OUT OR DO YOU THINK ONE OF YOU CAN BREAK AWAY? “To break away somebody is going to have to have bad luck. As well as all of us run, we run in the top-10, it is hard to break away. If one of us wins and somebody is eighth or ninth, you aren’t going to gain a whole lot on them. Some guys are going to have to have some bad luck for somebody to pull away. I think if you stay consistently in front of them, it will take awhile to get away from them, but I think it will be pretty close all the way down to Homestead.”
ANY ONE OF THE THREE OF YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE LOOKING AT THE TRACKS AHEAD? “Obviously Elliott and Reed have a lot more experience than I’ve got but looking at the tracks we have left I feel like they are all really good race tracks for our No. 6 team. Atlanta is a really good one and all the 1.5 mile tracks are really good race tracks for us. You have Richmond where we ran really well last year and this year. Bristol was a race that we had circled to run really well at. I feel like the race tracks that we have left suit my driving style pretty well. Hopefully they will favor us.”
YOUR THOUGHTS ON DANICA RUNNING FULL TIME NATIONWIDE NEXT SEASON? “I think it is great that she is coming. Obviously she has gotten a lot faster in just the few races she has ran. I ran a partial schedule in 2009, only seven races, and I know how tough it is to come in and run well, especially for her bouncing back and forth between the open wheels and these stock cars. I think she will learn a lot more and be a lot faster at the end of next year. It took me awhile to get going I felt like and just more seat time really helps. I feel like by the end of next year she will be running really well.”
HOW DO YOU THINK THE RACE HERE TONIGHT WILL PLAY OUT? “I think the Nationwide race is going to be great. There are a lot of great drivers in this field and it seems like a lot of the race cars are really close in practice. I was talking about how bad our car was, but if we could pick up a tenth, which is not that much, that would have put us in the top-five. The field is really tight and I think the drivers are going to be driving really hard. It should be a great race. We had some green flag pit stops in the last race here so it would be cool if it could be a really clean race and everybody just raced really hard.”
DO YOU THINK IT IS VALID THAT GUYS THAT ARE RUNNING TRUCKS OR NATIONWIDE THAT AREN’T RUNNING FOR POINTS ARE A BIT OVER AGGRESSIVE IN THESE RACES? “I think that they are aggressive and I feel like I drive aggressively but it is a different aggressive. I have to keep in mind our point situation and they don’t. That is just the name of the game. That is how it is set up for us to run and we just have to go do our own deal and we feel like we can run with them. I feel like Kyle has run for championships before in this Nationwide series and I feel like as veterans they realize who is running for the points and who is not. I don’t think they will take advantage and do something to jeopardize our point situation.”