Stenhouse Searching for Answers

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. says he's got upcoming races at Daytona and Bristol circled on his calendar after strong runs there earlier this year. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is blunt.

“We’ve just got to win a race,’’ he said.

Stenhouse knows that he won’t make the Chase via points - he’s 27th in the standings heading into Saturday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway. He knows the only way he’ll make the Chase is with a victory. He has 10 races to do so before the Chase field is set.

The task won’t be easy this weekend. Once a staple for Roush Fenway Racing, the organization had struggled at 1.5-mile tracks. Stenhouse has finished no better than 22nd in any of the four races this season on 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas, Texas, Kansas and Charlotte).

“I think we’re missing a lot of things,’’ said Stenhouse, whose last top-10 finish came seven races ago at Talladega Superspeedway. “The problem is that it’s not just one thing that’s we’ve missed it on, but everybody at the shop is working really hard. We’ve changed a lot. (Car owner) Jack (Roush) has put a lot of money into testing. We’ve gone and tested a lot. We’ve still got some more tests planned. I think we’ve missed it as a team, as a (No.) 17 team at race tracks. I’ve missed it as a driver when we’ve had decent cars.’’

Stenhouse laments what might have been at Michigan earlier this month. He finished 27th at that 2-mile track. 

“At Michigan, I thought we had a pretty fast car, and I got in the wall early, so I think that kind of ruined a chance there,’’ Stenhouse said. “Last week we had a pretty fast car at Sonoma, which last year I was 37th the whole race. We were inside the top 10 at times, so I think at times we’ve got the right pieces and we’ve just got to put them all in our race car and make sure we don’t make mistakes.

“But Jack is definitely working really hard at making sure that the pieces that we’re bringing to the race track are better than they have been. We thought  we had it back earlier in the season when we had a really good car that turned right off the truck at Bristol. We all had really good runs, so we’re looking to bring fast race cars to the racetrack.’’

Even with the struggles, Stenhouse says he’s still looking to score a win, noting his runner-up finish at Bristol and top-10 finishes at Daytona and Talladega. 

“Obviously, after our runs earlier this year we’ve got Daytona and Bristol circled,’’ he said.

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