Stenhouse Poised for No. 17; Biffle Talks Chase
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards, Jack Roush and Steve Newmark, addressed media members at Chicagoland Speedway Friday morning, announcing that Stenhouse will drive the iconic No. 17 Roush Fenway Cup car while being sponsored primarily by Best Buy. The group discussed the future of Roush Fenway Racing with Stenhouse in the saddle of the 17 car.
STEVE NEWMARK, President, Roush Fenway Racing – “We want to make some announcements about what our lineup will look like in 2013 and there are two primary pieces to that. First, we are pretty excited to announce formally that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be piloting the iconic No. 17 car next year and seeking to continue the championship heritage that Jack has created for that program. I know we had talked previously about Ricky stepping up into Cup but this is the official confirmation that he will in fact be in the 17 car next year. The other piece is, and it is just as important to our organization is that we are thrilled to announce that Best Buy is going to return and serve as the anchor sponsor to the No. 17 car and Ricky Stenhouse next year and will also be the primary sponsor for several races with Carl Edwards on the 99.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., 2013 No. 17 Cup driver, Roush Fenway Racing – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TAKING OVER THE NO. 17 CAR AND THE CONFIDENCE OF PARTNERS LIKE BEST BUY? “I am honored to be able to step into the 17 ride that has won a championship for Jack and the whole team is a top caliber team. I feel good that they have the confidence in me to be able to come in and run a car like that. I am honored to have that and to have Best Buy come back – I was kind of shocked. To be with a company that I support and that I believe in and use their products and shop in their stores, I think that is really cool to be associated with someone like that. I know that they have had a great season with Matt (Kenseth) and we are looking to continue that next year and run for the Rookie of the Year next year. To be a teammate to Carl and Greg (Biffle) is going to be a lot of fun on the Cup side. I will be leaning on those guys quite a bit to get these cars figured out. We have had success in the Nationwide Series but it will be a tough road ahead. I think we are up for the challenge and looking forward to continuing our growth with Best Buy and our teammates to run up front next year.”
CARL EDWARDS, No. 99 Ford Fusion – “It is really an honor for me to be sitting here when Jack is announcing that Ricky is going to be driving the 17 car. I think all of you in this room know that Ricky Stenhouse is going to be a force in this sport and I think today is officially the beginning of a new era for our sport to have Ricky in the car. He says he is going to lean on us a little bit. I hope he means figuratively. He is a hard racer and we have had a lot of good races together. It is going to be very exciting to have Ricky in the 17 car.”
JACK ROUSH, co-owner, Roush Fenway Racing – “As far as Ricky is concerned, Ricky is a very lucky young driver because he is able now to step in to a mature team, regardless of how the personnel winds up being distributed next year, he winds up taking one of the three seats at our table which have been very good seats this year based on the work that Robbie Riser has done on the manufacturing side and all the crew chiefs at the race track. Unlike a lot of rookies that have to wait their time to either grow a team that can give them what they need or to find a senior driver that backs away that leaves a spot open, he is very lucky to have that. Roush Fenway and Best Buy and Zest and Fifth Third are very lucky to have Ricky. Ricky, as Carl said, is going to make a statement in this business. He is at the head of his class, this generation of rookies coming through. He has one championship behind him and another one in his clutches and I am very happy and proud of Ricky and what he might do. I couldn’t be happier with the association with Best Buy.”
Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion, spoke to members of the media following the first practice session at Chicagoland Speedway Friday afternoon. Biffle, the regular season points leader, discussed how his car feels after the first Chase practice and assessed his odds going forward.
GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion -- HOW DID THE CAR FEEL IN PRACTICE? “I am not as happy as I would be typically at a place like this. The track is a little bit slick and we have been having a little trouble getting ahold of the race track. We think we are decent but you always want to be better. You want the thing driving real easy and I am a little loose and then it gets tight and then loose. I think everyone is struggling a little bit for grip. I think we are looking at the lap times and are a top-10 car but we want to be better than we are right now.”
THE ENGINE TROUBLES CARL HAD IN ATLANTA, IS THIS THE KIND OF TRACK THAT WILL TEST YOUR MOTORS? “I think so. I think it tests everyone’s engines on these 1.5 mile tracks. It is the biggest duty cycle we have are these 1.5 mile tracks in the Chase. We will wait and see who survives.”
YOU ARE ALL SET THOUGH? “I think so. Our stuff has been running good and Doug (Yates) and all those guys have been doing a good job. We always have our fingers crossed.”
YOUR VEGAS ODDS TO WIN THE CHASE ARE 10-1. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? “Sounds like an easy way to make some money. I don’t know. I never really look at that stuff much. I don’t know what everybody else is; I would have to look at it. It doesn’t seem that great of odds, it seems like it might be 15 or 18-1 but 10-1 I don’t think is still a bad bet from my point of view.”
WHO DO YOU THINK HAS THE BEST CHANCE TO WIN THIS CHASE? “I don’t think you can pick one of these guys, I really don’t. I don’t think there is one I would put in front of the other right now. Ask me that in five races.”
CAN YOU LOOK AHEAD TO DOVER? YOU HAVE BEEN GOOD AT THAT TRACK. WHY? “I think it is a place we need to capitalize on and run well. We have run good there in the past and won there a few times but I think all of these have to be good tracks for us. We run good at Loudon as well. We are looking forward to those tracks for being solid finishes for us.”
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS PERFORM SO WELL THERE? “Dover is a challenging place. It is slick and hard to get ahold of and that typically tends to be a good type of track for us.”
WHO IS THE UNDERDOG IN THE CHASE? “Man, I don’t know. It is so hard to pick. If you look at the 56 and the 16 and maybe the 88 a little bit, but then again we have been at the top of the points the whole time. Maybe people just don’t expect us to continue to stay there for another 10 weeks.”