Illinois: Ricky Stenhouse Jr preview

TIME TO GET DIRTY: STENHOUSE GETS BACK TO HIS ROOTS Concord, N.C. (August 14, 2006) - It's the moment he's been waiting for. Fourteen races into the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season and the series will visit two dirt tracks, back-to-back. At...


Concord, N.C. (August 14, 2006) - It's the moment he's been waiting for. Fourteen races into the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season and the series will visit two dirt tracks, back-to-back. At just 20-years old, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has spent most of his 14-year career on dirt so it's no surprise that when he looked at the schedule and saw both Springfield and DuQuoin in the line up...he was elated.

"It's cool," said Stenhouse of racing a stock car on dirt. "I think it's going to be different. We're going to run the Silver Crown car the day before so that will get me used to the track again. It's been a year since I've been on a dirt mile. The track doesn't change much between the Silver Crown and stock car and the stock car is kind of big like the Silver Crown car. It's not open wheel, but it's big and heavy so I think it will be close in comparison. You try and run the Silver Crown car pretty straight like the stock car so I think it will help to run the Silver Crown the day before."

Stenhouse will pilot Carl Edwards No. 199 RE Technologies car prior to both the Springfield and DuQuoin races. A move that he feels will help his ARCA efforts and his attempt to get back in the championship hunt. Stenhouse currently sits third in the overall ARCA RE/MAX point standings and has two wins to his name (Kentucky and Pocono) but nothing would make him happier than to literally sweep up the competition on dirt.

"There's not really added pressure." Stenhouse continued, "I think it's important though. I think we can gain some points back and get back on a roll here and get back in line with how we were doing at the beginning of the year. I would love to win the dirt races since that's where I came from."

In 2007 Stenhouse claimed a victory at Springfield in the USAC Silver Crown Series and ran up front at DuQuoin. He also finished second at DuQuoin in the USAC National Sprint Car Series. All while piloting vehicles for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR). As for differences between the two cars Stenhouse says, "It's probably how far you can run them in the corner. I normally run the Silver Crown car pretty far in the corner so that will be the biggest difference, the lift point. It might take me a little bit on Sunday to get used to the braking points and where to let off the gas in the stock car but I don't think it should be too big of a deal."

To date, Stenhouse has chalked up six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes and has an average finishing position of ninth. In just 14 career stock car starts, Stenhouse has proven he can make the transition from pavement to dirt but for now, his comfort level still lies on the dirt.

"When we tested the stock car on dirt I could feel it more and I could run it sideways more," said Stenhouse. "It seemed like I could feel the car more on dirt than I could on pavement. I can run it a lot looser on dirt but it spins the tires a lot quicker than on pavement so throttle control will be important on the dirt."

Crew chief Jeff "Lumpy" Campey sees the next couple weeks as the team's opportunity to shine over the competition. With an experienced dirt driver behind the wheel, it appears that the door of opportunity is open.

"It's the first place that we can say that Ricky's probably not a rookie," said Campey. "Hopefully we can lean on him. We went and played a little bit with some dirt tires and got an idea of what we need to be looking for and what to expect and I think it helped us prepare for this weekend and we're all looking forward to it. I've talked to the Kimmel's quite a bit and Robbie Benton and we've talked to some other people too. We have a lot of ideas and a lot of people have helped. I don't think we'll be as blind going into it as everyone is anticipating."

Track conditions will be a challenge for all the teams but with Stenhouse's experience, it should be a hurdle easily cleared. When asked what the perfect dirt track conditions would be for the Olive Branch, Miss.-native he said, "I think less rubber will give me an advantage. The track is going to have rubber on it no matter what but the less rubber it has means the car will be a lot looser. That would be the biggest help if there was any help from the track, to not have any rubber on it which makes it slick and I think that would give us an advantage. If it gets any rubber on it, it makes it more like a pavement track so I think the less rubber on it the better."

Stenhouse has put on some of the best dirt shows around with awe-inspiring passes around the top, the bottom or anywhere he can find a hole. On dirt, the stock cars provide a different challenge for him but nonetheless, Stenhouse should be exciting to watch in his quest to win.

-credit: rfr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Tony Stewart , Carl Edwards , Ricky Stenhouse Jr.