RICKY STENHOUSE, JR. 2009 PREVIEW Concord, N.C. (January 28, 2009) - It was just one year ago that Olive Branch, Miss.-native, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. walked through the doors of Roush Fenway Racing and into the opportunity of lifetime.
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR. 2009 PREVIEW
Concord, N.C. (January 28, 2009) - It was just one year ago that Olive Branch, Miss.-native, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. walked through the doors of Roush Fenway Racing and into the opportunity of lifetime. Stenhouse, Jr. made his stock car debut at Daytona in February of 2008 and in 21 ARCA races, Stenhouse, Jr. claimed two victories, three poles, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes along with two track records. A solid start for the open wheel phenom who will foray into the Nationwide Series in 2009 behind the wheel of the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford for six races and the No. 16 3M Ford for one race. With the season around the corner, the 21-year old sat down to talk about his upcoming season.
Q: What have you been doing to prepare for 2009 in the off season?
A: I've been working out as much as I can. Lifting weights, doing cardio, playing basketball, things like that. We've tested a couple times and so far we've been pretty good. I go to the shop as much as possible and I've been trying to spend time with Eddie (Pardue, crew chief) and the No. 16 CitiFinancial team to try and build a relationship in a short amount of time.
Q: How are you making the transition from ARCA to Nationwide?
A: Everything is new this year from my crew chief, to my team, to the series I'll be running in. The competition will be at a whole different level for me but I'm working hard to make the transition. I'm going into the shop, having lunch with the team and trying to get to know them. We don't get to test as much now so I'll be going to the track when Greg (Biffle) and Matt (Kenseth) race so I can learn as much as possible and again try to make the transition easier. It's going to take some time getting used to racing with the Nationwide and Cup guys with their experience level. Those guys are at 100 percent from the time they roll off the truck until the checkered flag and that will be a challenge. Also the races are longer than ARCA so I'll need to be patient and save the car for the end. I kind of like the longer races though so I'm looking forward to that.
Q: You are sharing seat time with Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle who are both NASCAR champions. Are you getting any advice from them?
A: I talked to both of them last year a little bit. I'm sure I'll be talking to them more this year, especially at the track. I'm going to ask them as many questions as they'll let me. I'm looking forward to racing with both of them. I think their experience will definitely help me.
Q: What tracks are you looking forward to racing at?
A: I'm really looking forward to Kentucky because that's where I won my first ARCA race last year. I'm also looking forward to Iowa because I've raced there a couple times and we tested there with pretty good results. Of course Memphis is probably the track I'm most excited about because that's my hometown track. I've run a USAC Silver Crown car there before and I like it. Everyone from back home in Olive Branch will be there too so that should be fun.
Q: What are your goals for the 2009 season?
A: I hope you see the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford running consistent in 2009. We are going to work hard to finish inside the top 10 at the beginning then hopefully we'll be inside the top five by the end of the year. Of course it will also be a team effort to try and win the owner's championship so I want to do my part. My main goals this year are to try and finish all the laps and finish every race. I think if we can finish inside the top 10, eventually that will turn into top-five finishes and eventually wins."
Q: With so many drivers looking for jobs, what does it mean to you to have sponsors on board for 2009?
A: It means a lot to have CitiFinancial and 3M on board as sponsors for 2009. They are all really nice people and I'm going to do everything I can to run up front with their colors. Right now I have seven races to prove myself so we're working hard to bring on more sponsors so I can get more seat time.
Q: Do you plan on running any open wheel races in 2009?
A: I'm hoping to run my dad's Sprint car some at some tracks in North Carolina so I can still be close to the shop. I'm also working on some USAC Midget and Silver Crown races as well. I don't have my schedule solidified yet but it will be on my web site when I know for sure what I'm doing.