STENHOUSE JR. GIVES FORD SECOND NATIONWIDE WIN OF 2012
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his fourth career NASCAR Nationwide Series race and his first at Texas Motor Speedway.
• Stenhouse gives Ford and Roush Fenway racing its fourth straight win at TMS.
• The win was the 9th at TMS for Roush Fenway and Ford in 23 Nationwide races at the facility.
• Stenhouse is the 5th different driver to win at TMS, joining Mark Marth (3), Matt Kenseth (2), Carl Edwards (2) and Trevor Bayne.
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 6 Pure Michigan Ford Mustang (Finished 1st) – VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW
SOMEBODY SCREAMED “COWBOY HAT” OVER THE RADIO AS YOU CROSSED THE FINISH LINE, EVERYONE IS GETTING THEM TONIGHT AREN’T THEY? “That is right. This whole team is getting them and they deserve it. They have worked really hard all year long. I am just glad to be a part of this race team with Jack Roush and Ford Racing and everybody here. All the fans at Texas Motor Speedway, thanks for coming out. I am having a lot of fun.”
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU MIGHT WIN THIS IN A BLOW OUT AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU AND DENNY HAMLIN PUT ON A SHOW IN THE CLOSING LAPS. “Yeah, Denny is a great race car driver and I know when I am up there racing with those guys that I have my work cut out for me. They raced me clean and Paul Menard raced me clean all night long and it was a lot of fun up there racing with those guys. You can learn a lot from them. Whew! We finally got a cowboy hat at Texas. I love coming here. We finally finished off a race.”
YOUR SECOND WIN OF THE SEASON. HOW DIFFERENT DOES THIS SEASON FEEL THAN YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON A YEAR AGO? “I feel a lot better coming into this year, obviously, with the championship from last year. One thing I do enjoy about this is running up front every week and we have a shot to win every week. That is all we can do. When we can finish it off like that, that is a positive.”
MICHAEL ANNETT, No. 43 Pilot/Flying J Ford (Finished 9th) - “We always like getting top-10 finishes, but we know we had a Pilot Flying J Ford that was a lot better than where we finished. We put a hole in the right front corner near the end of the race causing us to have to come down pit road two times to patch it up. After that, we got grass on the grill and overheated and had to come down pit road again to add water to fix that issue, so we had a ton of adversity to fight through, and to still come home with a top-10 finish is huge. My crew was awesome tonight and never gave up, and to know how strong of a car we had definitely gives us confidence going into Richmond in a couple of weeks.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., MIKE KELLEY AND JACK ROUSH - WINNERS PRESS CONFERENCE
JACK ROUSH, OWNER ROUSH FENWAY RACING – TALK ABOUT THE DOMINANCE YOU HAVE HAD HERE AND THE MOMENTUM YOU BRING TO TEXAS. “Well, first off God Bless Texas. Eddie Gossage has supplied me with a lot of Texas hats, 5-gallon hats that Eddie has bought for me. I really appreciate that. The 1.5-mile race track at Texas here is configured very well for the understanding the crew chiefs and engineering guys have about what the car needs and Mike Kelley tonight in particular I can say, I want to be careful about complimenting him too much when he can hear me, he took the measure of the race track, he went a little too far on one set of changes and came back and got it right on the last stop. They had a little problem with the car and he guessed which way the race track was going to go and he had it figured out right and had the best car when it counted. The tires were a factor and the tires on the 27 and 3 were a disadvantage for them. The 33, 18 and 38 had equal tires and we had the best car. I’ve had a lot of success here but don’t take credit for it myself. I’ve been in the company of really great race teams and Ford has given us some really fast race cars to work with. It has been a pleasure.”
JUST TALK ABOUT RICKY AND COMING BACK TO DEFEND HIS TITLE BEFORE MAKING THE JUMP TO SPRINT CUP. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF RICKY SO FAR THIS SEASON? “Ricky is right on track. Ricky made in his first year, three years ago because this is the third year with Ricky, he was what a rookie should be. He had great enthusiasm and lacked the experience to close the deal on what he undertook. Then last year he got it right and sometimes defending the championship is harder than winning the first one. We have a long way to go but certainly Ricky is in championship form and he is able to make better decisions about the car and what he needs and he and Mike Kelley are doing a real nice job together. One of the things I want to make sure I don’t miss a chance to celebrate is the fact that we had a Pure Michigan car down here. Michigan tourism is celebrating the state of Michigan for tourists and they have a promotion that is going to conclude at the August MIS race where they will give away a Roush Mustang that I don’t know if I have to give it to them or not but Michigan is going to have a Pure Michigan contest and celebrate the winners, multiple winners, and one of them will get a car at the August race at MIS. Those folks are with us tonight and they are on the car and it is the first time they have sponsored a car and we were able to bring a victory home for them.”
HAS RICKY GOTTEN BETTER ON RESTARTS? “Boy, it didn’t look like it there once tonight. We had a bad pit stop early on and the next time we had a good pit stop and Ricky slid back three places when he spun his tires. He had a great restart when it counted and had his speed just right and didn’t spin his tires and was able to hold off a great hard challenge from the 33 car. I think Ricky is getting better at every metric you could apply to driving, he is getting better as he gains experience.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 6 Pure Michigan Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT THE EVENING AND THAT FINAL RESTART. “It was back and forth. The race started and we were very strong. Our Pure Michigan Mustang was doing everything that I needed it to do and then we lost track position on that restart and it seemed like we really struggled. It wasn’t sure if it wanted to be loose or tight. We were battling with it. Then Mike and the guys kept making the right changes and trying to keep me calm as much as we could. Then that last restart Mike decided to go with no changes on that last pit stop which I wasn’t fond of but he knows what he is doing which is why he gets paid to do that. That last restart, it was crazy man. I think I spent the whole five laps or whatever it was under caution just praying for a good restart and everything worked out for us. It was fun racing those guys. I had to drive it in turn three wide open with Denny on the left rear of us and got us a little bit loose but we managed to hang on and pull it off.”
MIKE KELLEY, CREW CHIEF – No. 6 Pure Michigan Ford Mustang – TALK ABOUT THAT LAST RESTART AND THAT PIT STOP CALL. “A lot of these races are won back in the shop by the notes we look at and previous races and sitting with the engineering group and decision made on the fly. We looked at things that have happened under caution, whether the track picks up rubber or not. We made a decision not to make any adjustments thinking that once the rubber was back off the track it would allow our car to start turning again. Ricky had a great restart there. We talked to him about if he could get in front of that 33 that he would be fine and to check out. He did a good job. Once he got the lead he was able to take care of his stuff and had something for them there on that short restart at the end and get a big win for Ford and Jack and Pure Michigan and for Ricky. We pride ourselves on being a Nationwide only team and competing with a lot of Cup guys out there means a lot to us to get a win here.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO GET THESE WINS WITH THE CUP GUYS HERE WHICH IS SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T GET LAST YEAR. THESE HAVE TO BE PRETTY BIG DEALS FOR YOU. “Yeah, they definitely are. Obviously I felt like Iowa last year we beat two of the best Nationwide guys in our series with Carl and Brad but to have a full group of them here this weekend on a race track that they tend to win a lot on means a lot to us. Denny Hamlin and those guys are up there competing for the wins on Sundays and that builds confidence in me that I can go out and do that. We just have to stay consistent and we’ve been running up there with those guys all year long so we just have to keep it up. Like Mike said, it is the guys back in the shop and our engine program with Roush Yates and the body shop guys, it takes a group effort especially on this fast 1.5 mile at Texas.”
WHEN DO YOU EXPECT OR DO YOU HAVE A TIMETABLE TO BE A FULL TIME SPRINT CUP DRIVER? “I think I will pass that one right along to Jack.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “We’ve got the decal for the top of the roof on that 6 car all organized for Ricky as soon as I can find sponsorship for it he is good to go. The highest priority we have for this year in the meantime is to defend the championship in the Nationwide series but hopefully we can find sponsorship and run the 6 car with him next year and we will run some races with him in the 6 Cup car before this year is over.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. CONTINUED – HOW DIFFICULT WAS THE AREA WHERE THE LIGHTS WENT OUT? “It wasn’t bad at all. I actually as soon as they went out the first time under a caution I said that we were good to go. Then when it went out under green there we went a few laps through there and I thought it was fine. I guess some people have different opinions. It was probably safer to stop it and get them back going but I felt like it was okay.”
PAUL MENARD SAID THAT LAST YEAR YOU WEREN’T REAL GOOD ON RESTARTS. HAVE YOU GOTTEN BETTER? “I feel like we have. I think a big thing last year was just confidence in restarts. If I had a bad one I would spin the whole run and the whole next caution trying to think about what I needed to do different. I think I have more confidence this year about it and they seem a lot better. There are still some things I need to work on as a race car driver and I think restarts, the initial take off, can be improved on. Once we get going I don’t know if there is anybody that drives it harder than we do. Getting up through the gears we are getting a lot better at it.”
JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “We did enroll him in a little drag racing school last year to get him a little help. I don’t know if that helped or not. He has another career out there as a drag racer if he wants that too.”
JACK, WHEN DID YOU DECIDE NOT TO RUN TREVOR HERE AND IS HE DONE UNTIL YOU FIND SPONSORSHIP? “Possibly. We need sponsorship for the 60 car to keep it going. We ran both the 6 and the 16 car without adequate sponsorship last year and it is not reasonable for us to do that this year. We are in the quest of sponsorship and we are having some encouraging conversations and I certainly hope to have him back out for a substantial part of the remaining of the year but it will depend on sponsorship.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR. CONTINUED – HAVE YOU ALREADY STARTED LOOKING AT POINTS? IT LOOKS LIKE PROBABLY A THREE-WAY BATTLE BETWEEN YOU, ELLIOTT AND AUSTIN. “I think we look at it. Ours was a very close race up until Phoenix last year. I think we set down this offseason at how many points we gave up at the beginning of the year by not finishing off races as strong as we should or pit calls that didn’t go our way or things like that. We have definitely started looking at it and I think you just need to stay consistent. When you have those bad days at this point you have to keep the 2 in sight as much as you can and try to give up minimal points to him. We look at it and that is our main goal this year, to go back and defend that championship. I think you have to start looking as early as the first race.”