Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hopes To Race On Dirt More Often In 2018by Camille Jones January 24, 2018 0 comments
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. heads into the 2018 season as a two-time winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but the 30-year-old driver looks to earn additional wins on asphalt, as well as on dirt, in the upcoming race season.
After several seasons of running just a couple of dirt races a year, the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Fastenal Ford hopes to add more events to his racing schedule in 2018.
“I’ll probably do five or six races throughout the season,” said Stenhouse. “I don’t know. I haven’t looked at the schedules yet, but I know for sure like five or six and I’m looking at hopefully doing more.”
Stenhouse is coming off of a run in the iconic Chili Bowl Nationals, a midget race comprised of almost 350 entrants in 2018, where he came up one race short following a flip in the B-Main on Saturday night.
“It was fun,” Stenhouse said. “Ended up a race shorter than I wanted. Crashing in the B was not what I had planned. It’s been a while since I’ve crashed one of those cars, which kind of reminded me that I don’t really want to crash them. It was okay. I’ve had worse.”
Stenhouse went for a flip in the B-Main, adding himself to the ‘Flip Count’, which, ironically, was sponsored by Fastenal, his primary sponsor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He couldn’t recall the last time he flipped, but he believed it last happened at a previous Chili Bowl event.
“Man, it’s been a long time. Probably there,” Stenhouse said. “Fastenal sponsored that flip count. I didn’t really want to add to it, but I told them I was like, ‘I think I was the last one,’ I guess I ended it but not start it. I don’t know how many there ended up being. That was not planned, but, like I told them, ‘At least I added to your flip count and got it an even 70.’ I told them when they first started talking about sponsoring the flip count I was like, ‘Hey, you should do a commercial like we’re gonna sponsor the flip count if you need any nuts and bolts to put your car back together, just come on over.’ It was good. It was a good week for us.”
Stenhouse admitted there is a risk, but he doesn’t let injuries or the risky nature of the sport stand in the way of enjoying other forms of racing.
“I ride dirt bikes,” Stenhouse said. “In 2016 I broke my fibula on it, but showed up and raced and kept going.”
The injury went unnoticed by many, and Stenhouse didn’t let it affect him in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, “I was in a boot for a while and I just had to take it off to race and then put it back on, but I told Jack I was good to go,” Stenhouse said.
When Stenhouse was winning his two NASCAR XFINITY Series championships, his Roush Fenway Racing team owner, Jack Roush, didn’t express any concern about his racing outside of NASCAR. It wasn’t until Stenhouse entered the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series that Roush put the brakes on Stenhouse’s extra racing.
“Jack actually for the longest time never really said a word about it,” Stenhouse said. “We won our championship in 2012, fast forward that to 2013 and he was like, ‘I’d like you to focus more on your Cup stuff.’ So I didn’t race in 2013, ’14, or ’15 other than Chili Bowl. He’s like, ‘Give me a few years,’ so at the end of 2015 I said, ‘Jack, those few years that you told me are probably about up,’ so I did a little racing last year and I’m gonna do a little bit more this year. He’s always been one to kind of let his drivers go out and do what we want and have fun and enjoy our life. Obviously, he wants us to be prepared to get back in the race car.”
While his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team owner may support his racing outside of NASCAR, don’t expect Roush to be jumping into the dirt racing world any time soon.
“I’ve tried to get Jack to go for a two-seater sprint car ride with me, but he won’t,” Stenhouse said. “I told him I would go for a ride in his P-51 Mustang with him if he would go for a ride in my sprint car two-seater, but he won’t. I’m still trying to talk him into that.”
Photo Credit: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com