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STENHOUSE JR.: Daytona 500 is “Our Number One Priority.”

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With luck being as much as the equation as skill and a strong car, it can be hard to gain momentum on the restrictor plate tracks in NASCAR. However, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has beat those odds.

Over the past two seasons, the Roush Fenway Racing driver has become one of the staple front-runners at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. In his last six events at both tracks, he has a combined two wins, four top-fives, and two crashes – both of those coming while running up front in the top-five.

Now entering this year, all of his focus is solely on one goal – winning the Daytona 500.

“I want to win at other race tracks, but going into the 500 I feel a lot more confident than I ever have,” he said. “I always went into the 500 thinking, ‘Hey, lets’ get off to a good start.  Let’s have a good points race.’  I never thought about winning the 500.  I just thought that I was competing in it and if I won that was cool, but I didn’t feel I had the confidence that we could.  

“After last season, I feel like going in that is the only goal that we have when we go down there is to win and not just to get a good finish out of it.  Until we’re done with Daytona, that’s our number one priority.”

His ability behind the wheel has proven to be an asset, as he has shown he can put the car in position to gain the most ground possible. Though beyond that, his manufacture Ford, has proven to have the upper hand lately.

Their stable has proven to have the upper hand, winning the last four consecutive events. Stewart-Haas Racing won the Daytona 500 with Kurt Busch, with Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski winning the fall event at Talladega Superspeedway to surround Stenhouse’s pair.

Beyond crediting the horsepower Roush-Yates Engines provides, he feels guys like Tony Gibson (Stewart-Haas) and Jimmy Fennig (Roush-Fenway) is pivotal.

“The superspeedways are some of their bread and butter that they enjoy working on and tuning those race cars,” he said. “It was obviously a huge benefit for us at Roush Fenway Racing, putting us in the Playoffs and giving us those opportunities to go win.  Now, the focus that we put in on those, I think, is also what’s gonna help us hopefully improve on our other areas because we saw that putting one person focused on our speedway program could lift it fairly quick, so we’re working on all that.  

“But I do think the other teams we can continue our superspeedway wins.  I know Ford and Doug would enjoy that if we did.  I think a lot of our Fords work well together on superspeedways.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.