STENHOUSE JR. A ROOKIE IN ARCA, BUT NOT AT SALEM Concord, N.C. (April 8, 2008) - The rear bumper of the No. 99 Ford Fusion will display the bright yellow rookie stripes at this weekend's ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Salem Speedway but driver Ricky...
STENHOUSE JR. A ROOKIE IN ARCA, BUT NOT AT SALEM
Concord, N.C. (April 8, 2008) - The rear bumper of the No. 99 Ford Fusion will display the bright yellow rookie stripes at this weekend's ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Salem Speedway but driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. isn't new to the .555-mile oval. Stenhouse raced a Sprint Car at the historic oval in 2007 for Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) and finished 12th in a rain-shortened race. Stenhouse made over 100 laps at the test held in late March and is looking forward to racing at a track he's familiar with.
"Salem is a fun track to race at," said Stenhouse. "You run up by the wall for the most part and that's where I like to run. I raced there last year and unfortunately the race was shortened due to rain but it is one of the few tracks I have experience at so I feel a little more comfortable going into this weekend. It's still challenging trying to make the adjustment from a sprint car to a stock car but I think I'm learning a lot and improving each week."
Stenhouse tested at Salem with teammate Colin Braun and demonstrated that he knew his way around the track running top-10 lap times for most of the day.
"Salem is a tough track to pass at." Stenhouse continued, "There's really only one line to run. You want to be at the bottom of (turns) one and two then up top through (turns) three and four. The cars get loose off (turn) two and that's where most of the passing will happen. The track itself is pretty rough but that doesn't bother me, I think it makes it more fun."
Crew Chief Jeff "Lumpy" Campey sees improvement in Stenhouse and is anxious to get back on track in a race situation this weekend.
"We had a good test at Salem a few weeks ago," said Campey. "It's one of the few tracks that Ricky has experience at so I think that will help but it's still going to be challenging for him, learning how to maneuver a big, heavy stock car around the track versus a lighter, smaller sprint car. At the test he ran a good line and seemed to get up to speed fast considering both ends of the track are different.
"Overall I think Ricky is doing a great job. He improves every week and he's working really hard to accelerate his learning curve. I think this weekend we just need to keep our track position and keep Ricky patient and we'll be there at the end. Pit road will be challenging for him because it's only the second time he's pitted a car and it gets pretty congested there but I think he'll be okay. We just need to get him more comfortable in the car and get him laps and he'll be fine."
When asked if the testing has helped keep Ricky on par throughout the multi-week break, Campey said, "Most of our tests were multi-team tests so that was helpful. It helps us compare where we stack up against the competition and I think everywhere we've been we've had times good enough to be competitive. However, testing doesn't re-create a race simulation. It's a different story out there when there are 40+ cars on a half-mile oval. Hopefully Ricky's natural ability will take over and we'll be there at the end."
When asked about advice he had received, Stenhouse said, "Frank Kimmel told me that, 'you're going to have to have all your fenders on at the end of the race to be in contention'. That's my goal. To keep the fenders on and make all 200 laps."