It’s been a year since Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series victory.
He believes he’ll be in contention again in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the site of his most recent race win.
But his Roush Fenway Racing organization still has a ways to go to become competitive week-in and week-out during the season.
“We’ve had some tough conversations these last few weeks. I think I’ve been pretty vocal in the shop and sometimes whether it be in an interview or on the radio probably when I shouldn’t, and I definitely need to respect all of our guys at the shop that are working hard and trying to provide new stuff for us,” Stenhouse, 30, said Thursday at Daytona.
“We just haven’t got that new stuff as quick as what we wanted. I think last week I got a little frustrated hearing other teams bringing new cars to the track and kind of seeing their performance have an uptick and then some of those cars we’re racing to get in the playoffs.
“So, that’s kind of where the frustration comes in.”
Stenhouse managed a respectable 16th place finish last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway and sits 16th in the series standings entering this weekend’s race. He finished a career-high 13th last year and qualified for the playoffs.
Daytona an opportunity to win
His only top-five finishes this season have come at Bristol, Tenn., and Talladega, Ala., giving him hope of contending for the win this week at Daytona.
“Daytona and I feel like Bristol – there are two tracks that we can still potentially win at, being able to go out and win a race. Obviously, they are race tracks where things can play out,” Stenhouse said.
“I don’t think we have the speed at the mile-and-a-halves yet to go out there and win like we want to, but Daytona definitely Saturday night is a really big opportunity for us, but for everyone else, too.”
Stenhouse said Roush is working to bring cars with some new updates to the track soon, but they aren’t quite ready yet.
“It needs to be now, but, like I said, the process of getting something new and deciding what path you’re going to go down to make the cars better and faster is you sit there and kind of get a group together,” he said.
“It’s been nice having Matt (Kenseth) kind of back up what we’ve been saying in our cars and trying to get us going down a direction of fixing that, so it’s been good having him there.
“We’ve been talking a lot of what we need for our cars to be faster, so that’s been a huge positive.”