chevy racing–nascar–kansas–ricky stenhouse jr

RICKY STENHOUSE, JR., NO. 47 KROGER CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed the challenges of the year thus far, the strengths of the team, having to distance from his teammates during the pandemic, his expectations going forward, and more. Full Transcript: TALK ABOUT YOUR EXCITEMENT HEADING INTO KANSAS THIS WEEKEND“Obviously starting 25th, and losing a spot there, in points, was obviously the best we could start, so I’m thankful for that draw. We’ve got a lot of work to do as far as points go. Luckily, there are a lot that are close to us.  And, Kansas can be one of those race tracks where I feel like we can get some Stage points and get a good finish. I was actually a couple of minutes jumping on here (the call) because I was watching the Kansas race from earlier last year when we ran that night race. And, we were really good. We took the lead and I feel like our cars this year are probably better on the 1.5-miles than what I’ve had in the past, and so I feel like we can have good strong run at Kansas. We learned some things at Kentucky that I felt like translated over to Texas and we were much better at Texas than we were at Kentucky. I got caught in that wreck on the front straightaway, but I felt like our speed in our Kroger Camaro was really good. So, I’m looking forward to getting to Kansas and trying to crawl our way back up in the points.”
HOW IS THE MOOD AT JTG DAUGHERTY RACING SINCE OBVIOUSLY IT’S BEEN A PRETTY FRUSTRATING MONTH OR TWO?“Yeah, for sure. I was thinking back earlier today, Pocono was kind of uneventful for us and we were average. I felt like we learned things for Indy and then we never really got a shot to try that and see how our car was going to be at Indy with the pit road accident. Going to Kentucky, we were really loose and had our issues. And then at Texas I felt like we had a car capable of running around 10th to 12th. I think we were up to 14th and slowing getting our track position and then got caught in that wreck on the front straightaway; not to mention, both of us got caught in that wreck. At the Bristol All-Star race, we definitely weren’t as good as what we wanted to be, but looking back at the Bristol race earlier this year we were really good around the top of the race track, and that never really came in until very late into that All-Star race. I wasn’t there for the Open, but yeah, it’s been a little bit frustrating, but everybody is still working hard. I feel like we know what we’re capable of. We’ve just got to have things work out just a little bit better for us. I feel bad for Ryan (Preece) because this has kind of been his whole season of having good runs going and things happen. For us, we were both in that same wreck on pit road at Indy and then we were both in the wreck on the front straightaway at Texas. So, it’s pretty frustrating, but our speed is where we want it to be, and I’m looking forward to building on that speed at Kansas.”
THIS WEEKEND, CUP WILL BE THE FIRST CARS ON THE TRACK, SO YOU WON’T HAVE OTHER SERIES ON THERE TO CLEAN IT OFF. WHAT’S THE CHALLENGE IN THAT TYPE OF SITUATION AND HOW DOES THAT IMPACT THINGS EARLY IN A RACE?“I think in places like Kansas that we run all over the race track and feel pretty comfortable moving around early-on like if I think back to practices and things like that. We all move around and are capable of getting the track kind of cleaned off. I think a lot of the drivers, we were watching the Kentucky race and a lot of the drivers voiced their opinions to everyone at NASCAR to make sure that they got the track cleaner because we all felt it was pretty dirty for the Xfinity guys, especially out of the groove on the bottom of the race track for whatever reason. So, I know NASCAR is probably going to be working hard to make sure that the track is clean and good to go. But, Kansas is one of those race tracks where I don’t feel like you’re worried about being the first cars on the race track, but that being said, I feel like your car will change from the very first run of the race to the end of the race.”
WITH YOUR DIRT BACKGROUND, CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE OF WHAT WE’VE SEEN KYLE LARSON DOING? IT SEEMS LIKE EVERY NIGHT HE’S RACING, HE’S WINNING A RACE, WHETHER IT’S OUTLAWS OR MIDGETS OR WHAT HAVE YOU. WHAT HE HAS DONE THIS SUMMER IN VARIOUS CARS AND LEVELS OF COMPETITION?‘I think a lot of people look at it as oh, he’s going to a lower series and running and dominating. That’s not the case at all. These people, the teams and competitors that he’s racing against are the best of the best in those divisions. In the Midgets and USAC we battled hard and he came out on top. I look at watching him, he’s raced throughout Pennsylvania and raced against our Outlaw teams and what he’s doing is tough to do. It’s not only when you look at the feature wins. I’ve been racing Sprint Cars over the last few weeks and just thinking back to winning heat races, qualifying first, winning features, battling for wins; he ran second last night and had a really good shot to win. It’s impressive. And, I don’t think you’ll see many people be able to go do that in a USAC Midget, in Pennsylvania, with the Outlaws; there’s just so much that goes into Sprint Car racing and what him and Paul Silva have built together and the speed that they have is pretty fascinating to watch and kind of unreal.”
ARE THERE SURPRISES IN THIS SEASON? YOU HAD SUCH HIGH ASPIRATIONS BUT IT’S DEFINITELY BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR EVERYBODY. ALL THE DRIVERS ARE TALKING ABOUT IT. WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND?“I think for us, going to a new team and just getting that chemistry down; I still haven’t seen all my guys on my team on a consistent basis because we don’t send everybody to the race track. A lot of our guys are staying back at the shop. I’ll go to the shop and sit in my car, but only when the road crew guys are there that I see on the weekends. And so, that’s been kind of a struggle. At the beginning of the year, I was at the shop a lot and able to kind of be around everybody, but when you’re doing things with limited people, I think we saw some struggles at the beginning of getting back racing that cost us some points and some good finishes. But I felt like we’ve rebounded well and had some strong runs. There’s times that you struggle when you get to a race track like Kentucky, I felt like we struggled a little bit. We were a little too loose and never could really get a handle on the race car in the race. That’s something that like during practice, we could have gotten a hold of and made our cars better. But everybody else has that opportunity that if you practice, to do that same thing. So, I don’t really know if your position really changes a lot but everybody gets that opportunity. So, it’s been interesting to just show up to the race track and go racing, but it’s also been kind of enjoyable because I’ve been able to run some Sprint Car races with my dad and our friends back home that help us on our cars and that’s been fun, too. I haven’t gotten to race with my dad in a long time with him being the crew chief and me racing. So I’ve had a lot of fun doing that and it looks like I’ll be able to do that a little bit more throughout the season.”
ARE THERE DAYS WHEN YOU FEEL VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE YOUR CREW CHIEF, BRIAN PATTIE WITH YOU?  I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE GOING TO A NEW TEAM WITH ALL OF THIS IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE CONSISTENCY OF A CREW CHIEF THAT YOU KNOW.“Yeah, it’s been great having Brian. Obviously, he’s learning a new team and new cars as well. This time period that we’re in right now obviously would probably be a lot easier if we were still together at our former team just knowing the car over the last few years and kind of knowing all the ins and outs of it. Those are things that Brian, as a crew chief, had to learn kind of the hard way with a few things, and then myself also, having to learn some of those things. We know what balance trim that we like at these race tracks, but that was based off of our old race car. Now you’ve got a different one. Sometimes things don’t correlate and transition over as smoothly. But, I’m definitely glad to have him over in my corner. I think he’s one of the best out there and I know that the more time he has on the race cars, the better we’re going to be.”
YOU AND CHRIS BUESCHER HAVE HAD VERY SIMILAR SEASONS THUS FAR AT THE HALFWAY POINT REGARDING THE SEAT SWAP. WHAT ARE SOME NOTABLE DIFFERENCES YOU’VE SEEN DURING YOUR STAY AT JTG DAUGHERTY, AND WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR?“For me, I see a lot of opportunity to get more top 5’s and top 10’s, especially on these 1.5-mile race tracks. I feel like our cars are really good there. Looking back at getting back to Bristol, I feel like we still have a shot to win at Bristol, a better shot that probably I would have had before. I feel like that car that I had there, earlier in the year was one of my best. We still have room for improvement on landing the balance that we want at some of these race tracks, but I definitely see a lot of opportunity to run more consistent and further to the front than what we have so far this year. And, I’m excited for it. I believe in everybody at JTG Daugherty Racing. They’re working hard and they’re pumped-up and excited for the speed that we’ve had so far. People probably thought we’d kind of struggle for speed given all the circumstances and switching seats and teams and all that, but I feel like we probably on one hand, a few times this year have probably exceeded expectations and kind of surprised people. And then on the other hand, we’ve got to get more consistent with that. So, I’m looking forward to the second half of the year, for sure.”
IN THE OLD DAYS, NASCAR HELD TWO RACES A WEEK. DO DRIVERS LIKE TO SEE THAT?“I liked the doubleheader that we ran a Pocono. I’m looking forward to doing that at Michigan and Dover as well. I like racing as much as I can. And, any time you give an athlete, a team, an opportunity to go back to the race track the next day and do things different, that’s what we all wish we could do. And now you kind of get that opportunity to turn around. At Pocono, we weren’t great. We were average at both races. And we did things totally different at both races just trying to learn. I felt like we did learn. And we tried to take that to Indy because Indy was somewhat similar as far as long straightaways and the flat corners. So, we were able to learn those two races. And then you have two people battling it out both days. One came out on top one day and the other did the next day and that was pretty cool to see. I hope we keep that when we look forward on to different schedules and things of that nature.”
IT SOUNDS LIKE NASCAR IS EXPERIMENTING TO TAKE SOMETHING GOOD OUT OF THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC“Yeah, I think NASCAR has done a great job with trying different things. No practice. Showing up and racing. It shows that we don’t need all the practice and the full three days that we used to always get. And NASCAR has been kind of shrinking that anyway. But now, I think it shows that we’re capable of doing it without it. I think some of us would still like a little bit of practice and qualifying, but nothing that you couldn’t do in the same day. And then also the back-to-back races, the Wednesday race, as long as the fans keep tuning in, obviously they can’t show up like we would want them to or be able to, but if they keep tuning in, who knows what it will hold for our schedules in years to come.”
YOU REALLY HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO SEE MOST OF THE TEAM WITH THE PANDEMIC, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT THIS TEAM IS CAPABLE OF, SO ITS KIND OF LIKE THE ODDS ARE STACKED AGAINST YOU GUYS WHEN YOU GO TO A NEW TEAM WITH EVERYTHING THAT’S HAPPENED THIS YEAR. DO YOU CHALK THIS UP AS JUST A BUILDING YEAR TO TRY TO GET TO WHERE YOU KNOW YOU CAN BE? OR, IS THERE STILL A PRIORITY IN FOCUS ON TRYING TO WIN RACES AND BE IN THE PLAYOFFS?“Yeah, we’re definitely building toward next year. When the news came out that we would still be running these cars, you’re still learning a lot and trying to make sure that going into next year you have your best foot forward since we’re not switching cars. So that, for one, we’re still learning and trying to get everything aligned for next year, but there’s still opportunities. When you look back at this weekend in Texas, I felt like we were a 10th or 12th place car. When my teammate and I got in that wreck, we landed; we flew back early, obviously, both out of the race; and we landed, and I heard the No. 3 team (Austin Dillon) won. And, I’m like dang. We out ran them all race. So, there’s opportunities. You’ve just got to keep fighting. You never know how these races are going to play out. You’ve just got to keep putting yourself in position. I feel like we have speed that we can run inside the top 10 at these 1.5-mile tracks. And if you’re inside the top 10, you never know what will happen (with) race strategies and different pit calls. We’ve still got Daytona there, looming in the future that it would be cool to win, and you’d put yourself in the Playoff there. So, we’re still working hard and looking for wins as well.”