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August 31, 2013 9:48 AM

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Claims First NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – No. 17 Best Buy Ford Fusion – POLE-WINNING PRESS CONFERENCE –

WHAT ABOUT YOUR LAP?  “I love Atlanta.  It’s been a good track for us in the Nationwide car.  I think our worst finish was 10th.  We’ve had a third and first, so Atlanta has been a fun race track I enjoy.  Friends and family get to come out because it’s not too far from home, and the guys worked really hard on the Best Buy Ford Fusion today.  We unloaded and weren’t very good and we kept making changes and kept making big changes and got it to where it needed to be.  So I was a little hard on them today, but everything paid off.  They work hard and we’re excited.  Like Carl was saying, we’ve got two Roush Yates Fords on the front row and it takes a lot of horsepower to put a lap down like that here at Atlanta, so, like I said, it’s a fun race track.  I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think Carl got his first win here, so hopefully we can do the same thing.  It’s a fun race track.  We enjoy it and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

 

DID YOU SURPRISE YOURSELF WITH THAT AND DID THE DRAW HELP?  “It’s good to get something accomplished this year.  We’ve not gotten much accomplished of what we thought we should or the goals that we were setting out to reach, but I felt really good about our race car.  We ran a lap at the end of practice on new tires and looking at the guys that also made runs at the end we stacked up right there with them.  I think Carl ran a 29.88, we ran a .92, Gordon ran a .91.  I thought the 11 was really fast.  He probably got hurt going a little bit early as well as the 18, but the draw was a huge benefit to us.  It’s good to finally get something accomplished.  It was a lot of fun today and hopefully we can run strong in the race.  We’ve got track position starting out, which is key, especially here at Atlanta when you’re gonna take four tires every time.  A place like Michigan you can take no tires, two tires.  A place like Bristol to try to get that track position, but here at Atlanta you don’t take two tires, so it’s good to have that track position already.”

 

WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT YOUR PROGRESSION OR IS IT JUST A FAST LAP ON FRIDAY?  “It’s a fast lap on Friday.  There’s no doubt about it, it doesn’t translate and doesn’t automatically go into the race.  We’ve got 500 miles here, but I do feel like the last few weeks we’ve been a lot better than we were at the beginning of the year.  I felt Michigan running in the top 10 and blew a right-front and then last weekend having a little bit of engine trouble there running 12th, so I feel like we’ve been running a little bit better.  I’ve learned a lot this year and it’s not fun not running up front and being consistently in the top 10 and top 5, but that’s still our goal.  We’re still striving to do that and we’re working really hard and the guys are putting all they’ve got into it, so I’m enjoying this fast lap and hopefully we can get the Best Buy Fusion to drive as fast in race trim tomorrow.”

 

WAS THERE ANY APPREHENSION OF DRIVING THE LOW LINE WHEN JACK TOLD YOU TO DO THAT AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE DOWN THERE?  “We were sitting in the trailer after practice and Jack asked me what line I was gonna run in qualifying and having a late draw I told him, ‘Well, whoever is on the pole at that time I’m gonna run where they ran,’ and he said he didn’t want to hear that, he wanted to hear that I was gonna run the bottom because it makes him less nervous when I’m on the bottom.  After Carl ran out there and the 42, they were first and second after running the top, I got all the way to about three-quarters of the way down the front straightaway and was still trying to contemplate whether I was going to the bottom or the top and once I pulled it down to the bottom I felt like if it stuck when I went back to the throttle we were gonna have a good lap and the guys had it free enough for me that the front still turned and we were able to hold the throttle down and use all of our Roush Yates power off the corner.  Then I felt like I got through one and two really, really good, and knew I just had to maintain through three and four and not miss the bottom and we were able to do that.”

 

 

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. CONTINUED – DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN WIN A RACE OR TWO AND WHAT HAPPENED AROUND KANSAS WHEN IT LOOKED LIKE YOU WERE READY TO BREAK THROUGH?  “I think there’s a lot that has changed.  Jack has held nothing back.  We’ve built new cars.  We’re doing everything that we can at Roush Fenway and Doug Yates is working on the engines as hard as he can and Ford is working really hard, so I think our cars are getting a lot better, which, in turn , has helped me run a lot better.  I’m learning these cars out and learning how to drive them throughout the race and throughout practice so that we’re good in the race.  I felt like early in the year I was just driving as hard as I could throughout practice and it didn’t really translate to the race.  When you started racing guys their car drove totally different.  Kansas was a track that we went and tested at and we showed up and knew we were gonna be fast, we felt good, and almost had a win there.  We led laps and felt really good and I thought we could carry that momentum out through the year and it just hasn’t played out for us.  We’ve struggled with a lot of things, but we’ve learned from a lot of them and hopefully we can apply that to the rest of the year.  I think in 2010, my rookie year in Nationwide, it was about now that we started running a little bit better and we kind of carried that throughout the rest of the season.  I can’t promise you that’s what’s gonna happen, but that’s what we’re gonna try to do and carry that momentum into next year.”

 

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