Ricky Stenhouse Jr., took part in NASCAR’s annual championship contenders press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway Thursday afternoon. Stenhouse, looking for his second consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship , took the stage with a 20-point lead on Elliott Sadler and discussed the upcoming race weekend and more.
RICKY STENHOUSE Jr., No. 6 Ford Mustang – WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO JOIN THE SELECT GROUP OF BACK-TO-BACK NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES CHAMPIONS? “That would be huge. That was the goal that we set coming into this year. I think we set a few goals actually. We wanted to win 6-10 races and I was hoping we would be closer to 10 but the six is a great accomplishment for our team. I think we have ran a lot better and scored way more points than we did last year. Even going into last weekend we were tied in points. I think it is a testament to this series and how well Elliott and Austin and their guys have ran. The level of competition has really stepped up this year and it has been fun to be a part of. We are coming down to my favorite race track and I can’t think of a better place to finish it off.”
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE THREE OF YOU? IS THERE MUCH KIDDING GOING ON? IS THERE MUCH TRASH TALKING? “I think you know us and there is a lot of talking going on. We get along. We have been with each other, at least Elliott and I have, the last two years racing and parked in the garage next to each other every week. Our teams get along and we fly on the same planes. If you don’t get along it makes for a long season. This year has been fun with these guys and bringing Austin in with us. It has been a regular relationship if you want to call it – a friendship. Each one of us wants to beat each other as much as the other one does and we go out to do that every week but off the track it is a friendship.”
YOU FOUND OUT DURING THE SEASON YOU WOULD BE MOVING UP TO CUP NEXT YEAR. WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF THAT ON THIS YEAR FOR YOU? WAS IT AN EMOTIONAL LIFT FOR YOU? “The announcement I guess was kind of exciting with the news of going into the 17 car with Matt’s (Kenseth) sponsors Best Buy, Zest and Fifth Third. Jack (Roush) and I had been talking of running a fourth car next year anyway so that wasn’t really news. We already had that in the works. It didn’t really change my outlook on the season but it is comforting knowing that you have that in place. Last year I came into Homestead and we won the championship and still didn’t know if we were running Cup or Nationwide for 2012 until the end of December. That is always nerve-racking. It is nice to have that in the back of your mind and I really haven’t thought anything about 2013 since we made that announcement because we have a job to do here.”
YOU ARE ON THE ENTRY LIST FOR THE CUP RACE SUNDAY. ANY THOUGHTS OF NOT RUNNING THAT RACE OR WAS IT IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO IT? “Jack asked me if I thought it was going to be a problem and I never did. I think that we are race car drivers and I have run the Nationwide car for the last three years now and I know the feel that I am looking for in that so when I jump over to the Cup car it doesn’t really throw me off. I come back to the Nationwide car and I know exactly what I need to do in the Nationwide car. I like track time and I like being on the race track. For race car drivers we hate listening to cars practice and we are sitting in the garage or motor home watching it. I think it will be a great weekend running both and getting another race in with Scott before next year will be a huge help too.”