Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Believes That Consistency And Speed Will Catapult His Team Through The Playoffsby Camille Jones September 11, 2017
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will contend for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first time in his career after earning two wins to qualify for the 2017 Playoffs.
Stenhouse will be the lone championship contender for the Roush Fenway Racing organization, a year after all three of the team’s cars in 2016 failed to make the Chase, now known as the Playoffs.
Roush Fenway Racing downsized to two teams for the 2017 season, fielding cars for Stenhouse, as well as Trevor Bayne who failed to make the Playoffs but currently sits 21st in the standings.
Stenhouse and his No. 17 Fastenal Ford team are currently ranked 8th in the standings with 10 Playoff points in the bank from wins at Talladega Superspeedway in May and Daytona International Speedway in July.
The upcoming 10 races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs include a variety of tracks. The field will continue to be knocked down after every three races, before the final four left standing will contend for the championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Stenhouse, who is now in his fifth full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, believes his No. 17 team has the potential to run well in several of the upcoming events, as he mentioned the tracks where he feels he has a chance to perform the best at and potentially contend for a win in the weeks on the horizon.
“Dover we were running really well at before we blew a right front tire, so I feel really good about going back there. I thought we had some good speed,” said Stenhouse following Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Stenhouse and his team had the opportunity to test at Chicagoland Speedway last month, the home of the opening race of the Playoffs.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been on what I would call a true mile-and-a-half, but Chicago’s one of my favorite mile-and-a-half’s that we go to,” Stenhouse said. “We did have a good test. We weren’t the fastest, but I felt like we had a solid test.”
And don’t forget, Stenhouse’s two wins this season both came at restrictor-plate tracks. With Talladega Superspeedway coming up on the schedule, many have him marked as a favorite for the victory.
The field of 16 drivers in the Playoffs will be cut down throughout the final 10 races, but Stenhouse understands that consistency will be key in moving forward.
Stenhouse said, “You don’t have to win in these first couple rounds, but we need to be consistent, try to get some stage points when can, and make sure we cap it off with a good finish.”
What does Stenhouse feel that he and his team need to improve on in order to be contenders moving forward? They need to be faster.
“Overall we’ve just got to get a little faster,” Stenhouse said. “It’s something we’ve been looking at doing over the last few months, but we just quite haven’t gotten as good as we wanted to be. But the tracks in the playoffs are tracks I’ll enjoy.”
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