Preparing for the move and driving double time
Oct 10, 2012
Preparing for his big move
Stenhouse Jr. gets ready for full-time Cup ride with Dover race, Talladega testing
By Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM
October 09, 2012 2:35 PM, EDT
After 16 straight race weekends, my No. 6 team enjoyed a much needed weekend off last week. The break should give us a chance to regroup for the final five races of the season; I can't believe we are down to the homestretch.
Dover never has been a track where we have had much success. I enjoy racing at the Monster Mile, but it sure has lived up to its nickname every time we've raced there. Our No. 6 Rancher's Reserve Ford wasn't as good as we hoped. We just didn't get it dialed in like we wanted. We came home with a solid top-10 finish, but it was not the kind of performance that we have come to expect.
Rancher's Reserve, Safeway and Cargill also sponsored our No. 6 Ford in the Sprint Cup race at Dover. My goal was to finish on the lead lap and to claim a top-15 finish. The Sprint Cup race there uncharacteristically went green for a while, causing only six cars to finish on the lead lap. We ended up with a strong 12th-place finish, and I was really happy with what we learned on the day.
In only my third career Sprint Cup start, it was great to be able to log laps and gain experience and ultimately feel more comfortable in the Cup car. We are planning on running two more Sprint Cup races this year (Charlotte and Homestead), which will provide valuable seat time before moving up full-time next year to the legendary No. 17 machine.
After the Cup race on Sept. 30, I traveled to New York to participate in Cristie Kerr's Birdies for Breast Cancer Celebrity Golf Classic on behalf of Coca-Cola and NOS Energy Drink. It was at the esteemed Liberty National Golf Club, which overlooks the skyline of Manhattan. The course and the view were spectacular. It was an honor to be invited to participate in an event for such a great cause.
On Tuesday, NOS Energy Drink and my No. 6 team collaborated and arranged a surprise birthday party for yours truly. What a surprise to walk in and see my entire team, the NOS Energy team and even a clown there to celebrate my birthday. It was a great birthday!
Wednesday, I tested the new 2013 Ford Fusion at Talladega. The new car design looks great, and Ford has done an awesome job of designing the new sleek looking Fusion. I think the fans definitely will be able to recognize the different manufacturers on the track next year and will go back to rooting for a manufacturer versus a specific team.
After the test, I headed back home to Mississippi to spend time with my family and friends. It was a great way to unwind and relax.
This week we race in our backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Every driver wants to win at Charlotte because we consider it our "home" track. The crew guys' families that make the sacrifices each week while we travel get to attend, so it is always special to race there.
I will be pulling double duty again in Charlotte. Best Buy came on board and will be the primary sponsor on my No.6 Ford as well as the No. 17 Ford. This will be the first time that Best Buy will serve as the primary sponsor for two cars in a single Cup race.
Last year, I got my first career Cup start there when I filled in for my friend Trevor Bayne during the Coca-Cola 600. We finished 11th, so we are going for a top-10 finish this time around.
If you are in the Charlotte area this week, make sure to come to our Fan Day on Thursday. There will be numerous booths showcasing our great sponsors, and I will be signing autographs along with all of my Roush Fenway Racing teammates. More details can be found on roushfenway.com.
Until next time.