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Stenhouse Jr Hoping New Driving Style, Crew Chief Provide a 2015 Boost

Stenhouse Jr Hoping New Driving Style, Crew Chief Provide a 2015 Boost

by February 2, 2015 0 comments

Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty images

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A retooled and more patient driving style and a new crew chief for 2015 may be the key to earning two-time XFINITY Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. the elusive status of being a Chase contender entering his third season in the Sprint Cup Series.

Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 17 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, enters the 2015 season coming off of the heels of a dismal 27th-place finish in the final points standings in his second season at the Sprint Cup level.

The 27-year-old from Olive Branch, Mississippi, attributes part of the lack of results in his sophomore season to trying to extract too much out of the race cars given to him during each individual race.

“I feel like I give 100-percent all of the time, but I feel like some of those times are trying to make the car do something that we really weren’t capable of doing and trying to make a 20th-place car a top-five car,” Stenhouse Jr. said in his media availability during NASCAR’s annual Media Week. “When you’re making wholesale changes and trying to make a big leap on a weekend, you tend to miss it.”

With a new crew chief on board the No. 17 team this year in Nick Sandler, head engineer on RFR’s No. 99 team from 2011-to-2014, Stenhouse Jr. believes that he has found a partner who can help make the proper adjustments to the car for the now third-year driver’s ‘retuning’ of his driving style.

As Stenhouse Jr. believes, Sandler’s abilities played a part in securing two victories for the No. 99 team with Carl Edwards last season and a ninth-place finish in the points standings last season; something that he hopes to have transfer over to him and the No. 17 team this year.

“I think that’s one thing that Nick, Jimmy Fennig, and Carl were able to do was not try to jump the fence but make small gains throughout the weekend and get the best result that they can,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “I think with Nick’s leadership and the experience that he had with Carl, [he] maybe can filter some of that down to me and make sure that we’re not trying to make too big steps through the weekend so that we can get the consistent finishes and work our way better.”

As for what Stenhouse Jr. will require out of himself to make the transition to his new style, the two-time XFINITY champ is going to need to utilize a bit more patience behind the wheel.

“Driving-wise, it’s not asking for too much, just telling them what the car is doing and letting them make the adjustments,” Stenhouse Jr. explained. “I think our cars will be better to start with. I’d say just a little more patience, it’s been a rough two years.”

Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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