Ricky Stenhouse Jr Remains Optimistic
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 18, 2016 | 5:26 P.M. EST
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth fastest in the opening practice at Auto Club Speedway.
Ricky Stenhouse is putting last week’s disappointing day in Phoenix behind him as quickly as possible.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver finished 37th last week in the Good Sam 500 and tumbled seven spots in the Sprint Cup Series as a result. After a solid start to the year the day in the desert was a huge bump in Stenhouse Jr.’s road to what he hopes will be a much better season than his last two.
But Stenhouse Jr. brings a feeling of confidence into this weekend’s Auto Club 400 despite last week’s frustration.
“I think we learned a lot from Phoenix on things we can do to make our car better, but not have issues like we did,” he said Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “The things that we take away from last weekend is how can we not blow a right-front tire next time. The good news is we had really good speed. We qualified well and qualified in the top-10, so that’s something you can take away as well. You have to take the positives and the negatives and work it out, and come back to the next short track and be ready for it.
“But we’re back at a bigger race track, where Atlanta and Vegas were really good to us. I’m hoping for another great effort with our Fastenal team. I feel really strong about the direction we’re headed. Everybody is like, ‘You’re back.’ We still have a long ways to go, but I’m definitely happy about the effort and the direction that we’re going.”
Sunday’s race at the two-mile ACS will be a better indication of how the new lower downforce aerodynamic rules package will impact the racing over last week’s event at the one-mile Phoenix oval.
Stenhouse Jr. hopes it will bring the same results he had at the two 1.5-mile tracks earlier this year at Atlanta and Las Vegas when he ran well.
“I think it will be kind of like Atlanta because the tires fall off here,” he said. “There are multiple grooves, which means you can run all over this race track. With this package and this race track, I think it’s gonna be a very, very exciting race and probably one of the better ones we’ve had all the way throughout the race.”
Stenhouse Jr. stressed there will not be a carryover from last week at PIR and that he and the team are ready to turn the page and look ahead, not behind.
“This weekend it would be nice to bounce back with a solid top-10 finish and get back to where we were running before Phoenix,” he said. “I believe we can do that. I talked to my guys after the race last weekend and just said, ‘Hey, we’ll get ‘em next week.’ That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s no different than a golfer. If you have a bad hole, you’ve got to move on to the next one and that’s what we’re gonna do this weekend.
Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Sunday's Auto Club Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.