Concord, N.C. (May 13, 2008) – It took just six career stock car starts for Roush Fenway Racing rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to win his first career ARCA RE/MAX Series race and assume the points lead (he leads by five points over veteran Frank Kimmel). This marks the first time in ARCA history that a Roush Fenway Racing team has held the points lead and it’s an honor that Stenhouse is glad to hold.
“I think its cool we’re not chasing someone for the points lead. It’s a lot easier to have everyone chasing you than for you to be chasing them. We just need to stay consistent and run in the top-five every week and finishing all the laps like we’ve been doing the last several weeks. We went from being over 240 points out of first to leading by five points which is pretty awesome. We just need to keep that momentum going.”
Stenhouse captured his first win and third top-five finish in a row last Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. The win brings Stenhouse’s average finishing position to 9.3. The win came in chassis #RK-317, a former No. 17 Sprint Cup chassis that teammate Matt Kenseth drove to the win at California Speedway in February of 2007. That’s not the only help Stenhouse has received along the way, teammate Carl Edwards spent quality time with the 20-year old in the week prior to the race, time that Stenhouse attributes to his win.
“I have to thank Carl Edwards for helping me this week. He spent a lot of time giving me some helpful tips on how to race at Kentucky. His advice definitely helped me get through the corners faster. I also have to thank Travis Kvapil for testing at Kentucky with me last fall.”
Edwards, was impressed by his teammate stating, “I was able to watch the Rockingham race last weekend and thought Ricky did a good job. I spent quite a bit of time with him last week giving him some pointers on Kentucky and it sounds like he took that information and used it which is great. I’m real excited for him that he got his first win, it sounds like he really stepped up and improved on a lot of things. I’m excited to have him in my USAC Silver Crown car this year and I think he’s making a lot of progress in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. I see nothing but blue sky for Ricky in the coming years. I’m proud to have him as my teammate.”
Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush echoed Edwards’ excitement about Stenhouse saying, “I’m real proud of Ricky and the entire No. 99 team for their win this past weekend at Kentucky. In six stock car starts, Ricky has continued to show improvement each week and with each week his confidence level has increased which culminated in a victory for the team. When you put in the time and effort, you will see results and that’s what’s happening with our ARCA team. We need Ricky to keep learning so he can become a better driver and we can move him up the food chain and winning a race is a part of the learning experience.”
Crew chief Jeff “Lumpy” Campey couldn’t be more proud of Stenhouse and the entire No. 99 team. Following the race Campey said, “I thought it was great not only for Ricky but for the entire No. 99 team. That was one of the coolest wins because it was the first win for so many of the team guys. Ricky’s done a great job the last three races, he’s really stepped his game up and done a real good job with his performance on the track and I think he’s starting to put it all together.
“I was just glad to see him live up to his potential and what I knew all along. He really worked hard there towards the end. I was excited for him and the crew guys it was a special win since it was the first win for so many of them. Plus, being able to defend our win there from last year was pretty cool. Ricky did a great job at the end he knew his weak spot was his restarts and he put it all together at the end it was great to see him put it all together especially in front of his family.”
Over the last few weeks, Stenhouse has worked on numerous things including his restarts. That work paid off as a string of cautions in the closing laps allowed him to gain positions at the end ultimately claiming the lead on lap 106 (leading his first career ARCA laps).
“The biggest thing that was going through my mind was to not let anyone by on the outside because that would have slowed us down when we were trying to chase the leaders down. I’ve been spinning the tires a lot on my restarts too so I was focused on not doing that and it just all came together at the end. I got a good run on both first and second and just tried to stay focused on winning.”
As for the victory celebration, that was something new to Stenhouse who comes from a dirt track background where burnouts aren’t the way to celebrate.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t choke on my burnout because I’ve never done one before. I decided to climb the fence for Tony (Stewart) because he’s been helping us so much, I couldn’t have got this far without all his help and support. It’s the first time I celebrated like that which was pretty cool.”
The No. 99 Ford will carry the Scotts logo on the hood and decklid as the team heads to Toledo, Ohio for this weeks 200-lap event on Sunday. The No. 99 team did not test at Toledo but Stenhouse did race there in a USAC National Midget and Sprint car in 2007 finishing 18th and third respectively.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.