Stenhouse Just 9 Back In NNS Title Quest
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Cargill Beef Ford Mustang , comes into this weekend nine points behind Elliott Sadler for first-place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Stenhouse participated in a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway to talk about the championship race and his hopes for making it two straight.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AT THIS POINT AS YOU GO FOR TWO STRAIGHT TITLES? “It’s gonna be tough, we know that for sure. This whole year has been tough. It’s been really tight. We win races. They win races. We’re right behind them. He’s right behind us, so it’s a lot of fun. This year has been really exciting, not only for me but my whole team. I think they’ve really enjoyed it. It seems like the fans have really enjoyed the battle that we have going on and I feel confident about our equipment, our race team and the race tracks we have left, but if I look over at their stats (Sadler’s team) at those race tracks and the race tracks that we have left, they’re just as good as ours. I don’t think either one of us has a clear advantage over the other. I think it’s just gonna be hard-racing to the end and try not to make mistakes.”
TO WHAT EXTENT HAS IT HELPED NATIONWIDE DRIVERS WITH THE CUP GUYS NOT BEING ABLE TO SCORE POINTS WHEN THEY RUN EVENTS? “Competition on the race track, I don’t think it changes it one bit. I think it brings excitement to the series. We do autograph sessions and the fans are talking about the points championship and the battle between us. There are some guys who generally probably wouldn’t be up in the top 10 in points. We’re trying to help Michael Annett get to the top-five in points and that’s cool. A lot of the fans see that, so I think for the series the points, and the way NASCAR has set everything up, has worked out perfect for what they wanted to get accomplished. The competition side we’re gonna go out there and try to win races no matter what the point structure looks like.”
DID YOU AND ELLIOTT HAVE ANY KIND OF RELATIONSHIP BEFORE YOU STARTED BATTLING HIM FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR AND HAS IT CHANGED AT ALL SINCE THEN? “No, I knew Elliott and would say ‘hey’ to him when he was over at RPM and was running across the street, but until last year we really weren’t around each other very often. Last year, it was cool because we kind of built a relationship, plus a battle for the championship. I learned a lot from Elliott with his success and time in this sport I was able to learn how to race for a championship – a lot of give-and-take from him – and I think that paid off a lot last year and it’s paid off a lot this year. We get along great. We race each other hard when it’s time to go race, and during the race we give-and-take a lot. It’s been a lot of fun racing Elliott. He’s a guy that I would hang out with off the race track. It’s been a good last two years.”
HAVE YOU HAD ANY ISSUES ON THE TRACK? “Yes, we have. When you’re in the garage 34 weeks a year, us running for a championship, we’re parked next to each other in the garage. Our teams talk to each other. We fly on the same planes to the race tracks. We have a mutual respect for each team. Our teams talk to each other. Our crew chiefs talk to each other. Everybody talks and gets along. You don’t want to be out there hating the guys next to you and not enjoy your year. We do this because we love to do it. If it gets to where it’s a tough time hanging out in the garage because you’re worried about the guys next to you and not getting along, I think you’re taking a lot of the enjoyment out of it.”
Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes
Bank of America 500 (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
Ford Racing NSCS Notes & Quotes
Bank of America 500 (Charlotte Motor Speedway)
FORD CHARLOTTE NSCS FAST FACTS:
* Matt Kenseth, winner of last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, is the defending race-winner of the Bank of America 500.
* Kenseth, whose first series win came in the Coca-Cola 600 during his rookie season of 2000, is one of only two active Ford driver with a CMS win on his resume. The other is Casey Mears, who won the Coca-Cola 600 in 2007 while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.
* The first team to win a race at CMS was the Wood Brothers, who got there courtesy of Speedy Thompson during the track’s first season in 1960.
Front Row Motorsports drivers David Gilliland and David Ragan participated in a press conference this afternoon on behalf of sponsor Glory Foods.
DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THAT LAST LAP AT TALLADEGA? “We made it through. It wasn’t very pretty, but our team had a strategy that we felt like would be conservative. For most of the race David Gilliland and I tried to take care of our equipment throughout the race, knowing at some point during a 500-mile event at Talladega and/or Daytona, you’re gonna have a good chance to tear up a lot of race cars. We had some speed in our race cars. We both played strategy right to put ourselves in position there at the end and compete for the win. When we took the white flag, I didn’t think that we’d make it around to turn three and four, but somehow we did. When the wreck started, I was fortunate enough that I was on the very, very outside so I didn’t have any cars on the outside of me to hook me or tear up my car any worse. I was able to kind of ride the wall and ride a few cars on the outside for 100 yards or so, and then I was just fortunate I didn’t get clipped in the rear and didn’t get spun out. I was able to keep my progress going forward and somehow I got out of there. I just stayed in the gas. When you take the white flag the only thing you’re thinking about is to get back to that start-finish line, so that’s what I was thinking about. The engine was still running. I didn’t know if I had four flat tires or if anything was damaged, I just knew that I had to get back and I was fortunate enough to make it back.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION ABOUT DALE JR. BEING OUT THE NEXT TWO RACES? “I guess my first reaction is I was kind of floored. I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t see that coming.’ I had read some of his comments from last weekend and didn’t really see or hear that he was ailing in any way, shape, or form, but when one of your sport’s superstars has an issue like that, everyone takes notice. Then the second thing you think about is, ‘Man, I need to go talk to my interior guy, talk to my crew chief, talk to the guys that are putting our seats in and make sure everything is fine. Sometimes you take for granted when you go for an extended period of time without getting hurt or getting in a hard accident that you’re still going 200 miles an hour out there, and there are concrete barriers on each side and other race cars that you can get hurt. So I think it makes everyone realize that what we do is dangerous and we need to take every precaution to making sure our cars are as safe as possible and we’re as healthy as possible throughout the week and don’t overlook anything.”
DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – YOUR SON IS A BUDDING DRIVER. WHEN WE HAVE A STORY LIKE THIS IS YOUR REACTION DIFFERENT NOW THAN MAYBE FIVE YEARS AGO? “It’s definitely surprising to hear. I’ve watched that replay quite a few times because I was in the middle of it. Tony’s looked pretty wild, but after seeing his interviews after the race and him being OK, the rest didn’t look that bad to me. I’ve hit the wall hard more than a handful of times, but when you have a son start racing it’s different. He’s seen me bumped and bruised up and he still wants to do it. The biggest thing is safety. He races quarter midgets and is probably one of three kids I’ve seen at the quarter midget track that wears a HANS device. He’s got a seat liner and his seat belts, so we take extra precaution in the safety. He runs a head rest. I don’t have him leaning out of the car like a lot of the kids do, so it’s safety first. My daughter rides horses and that’s every bit as dangerous to me. The way I go about it, just like us racing each and every week, you decide what you’re gonna do and just be as safe at it as you can. My daughter riding horses. She’s got the best helmet I could buy her and stuff like that. Stuff like the interior in our cars from a safety standpoint has come so far. You tend to overlook that nobody has gotten really hurt or sat out like Dale is this weekend in a long time, so you kind of take the safety for granted. But I feel like NASCAR has done a great job on the safety of these cars and all the safety precautions we take as drivers with the seats and everything else has come a long ways. You just want to be as safe as you can and, at the end of the day, do what you love to do.”