MID SEASON REPORT: RICKY STENHOUSE JR. Concord, N.C. (July 9, 2006) - Ten races into the 21 race ARCA RE/MAX Series season and Roush Fenway Racing stand-out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is demonstrating just why the NASCAR powerhouse signed him. It took...
MID SEASON REPORT: RICKY STENHOUSE JR.
Concord, N.C. (July 9, 2006) - Ten races into the 21 race ARCA RE/MAX Series season and Roush Fenway Racing stand-out Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is demonstrating just why the NASCAR powerhouse signed him. It took the Olive Branch, Miss.-native just six career ARCA starts before capturing his first win at Kentucky on May 10, 2008. He then repeated the feat two weeks later at Pocono Raceway - a track that is notoriously challenging for most drivers. In the past five months he's accrued two wins, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 10 starts and oh yeah, he leads the point standings. Not too shabby considering Stenhouse had little pavement experience and zero stock car experience entering the 2008 season.
"I'm happy with how the season has gone so far," said Stenhouse from his hometown of Olive Branch. "Lumpy (crew chief Jeff Campey) and all the guys on the No. 99 team have been great to work with. Everyone has worked really hard to help me out in any way they can and I can't thank them enough. From Jack (Roush, owner) on down, Roush Fenway has been a great organization and I know that's a big reason for my success. I still have a lot to learn but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win races and championships."
At the half-way point of the season Stenhouse has shown steady improvement each week. His tenacity, determination and work ethic have launched him into the "one to watch" category and his crew chief Jeff "Lumpy" Campey supports that.
"I was surprised he won as quick as he did but I'm not surprised by his overall success," said Campey. "We saw his talent and signs of brilliance during our testing last fall and into the winter. I'm really proud of him for putting it all together. He's showed improvement each week and his maturity is beyond his age. His parents have done a wonderful job of raising a respectable young man. He has a good work out program and is learning all the time. He'll listen to anyone he can get a hold of. His devotion and seriousness is impressive and those are the little things that separate an average driver from a great driver."
Stenhouse currently leads the point standings by 130 over Scott Speed. He assumed the lead following his win at Kentucky and has increased the lead from 10 points to 130 in the past four races. Should he win the championship this year, he would be the first driver to overthrow ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Frank Kimmel's eight-year run as champion. Stenhouse's other mid-season stats include, completing 97.9 percent of the total laps possible in 2008, posting an average starting position of 12.3, an average finishing position of 6.9, and leading laps at four races (he led the most laps at Cayuga with a total of 101). Even with the success, the No. 99 team is sticking to their initial game plan.
"We're sticking to our original plan." Campey continued, "Our primary goal is to help build strong crew members and drivers so they can progress. We need to finish all the laps and put ourselves in a position to win. If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.
"We can't worry or think about winning a race or a championship until you are close enough to contend. That said, at Cayuga we made a choice to race smart by staying out since it looked like rain."
As for Stenhouse's future at Roush Fenway Racing and in NASCAR, Campey says, "Given his limited experience I think it will be important to have strong, veteran people around Ricky so he can continue his progression. He has plenty of talent and all the ingredients are there to be a great driver, he just needs to stay on a solid path and not lose focus like a lot of drivers do. I think he'll be just fine. Driving for an organization like Roush Fenway is certainly a huge part of what will help make him successful."
With one more week off, Stenhouse will race three sprint car races near his home town. Piloting the No. 99 car owned by his father Ricky Stenhouse Sr., Stenhouse Jr. will tackle Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, Ark. on July 10, Benton Speedway in Benton, Mo. on July 11 and Malden Speedway in Malden, Mo. on July 12.
Stenhouse returns to ARCA RE/MAX action on Friday, July 18 at Kentucky Speedway where he hopes to repeat his May win and increase his points lead.