Ricky Stenhouse Jr. says Roush Fenway Racing has some new things in the works and he hopes they’ll be able to use it soon.
“We’ve had some tough conversations these last few weeks,” Stenhouse (pictured) said at Daytona International Speedway where he won last season. “I think I’ve been pretty vocal in the shop — and sometimes whether it be in an interview or on the radio, probably when I shouldn’t — and I definitely need to respect all of our guys at the shop that are working hard and trying to provide new stuff for us. We just haven’t got that new stuff as quick as what we wanted.”
In Chicago last weekend Stenhouse lashed out a bit, which he admitted came from hearing those he’s competing against, particularly for a playoff spot, had new cars to run. And upon doing so, those teams saw an improvement in performance.
“We were able to somewhat salvage an OK day out of it after being really far off, I felt like, all weekend,” Stenhouse said. “I told Jack (Roush, owner) that I didn’t think we’d finish inside the top 20 last week because just in practice that’s the way the car felt. We got a better finish out of it than I thought, but we’re working hard.”
Roush has also brought back champion Matt Kenseth to help evaluate the program. According to Stenhouse, the feedback from Kenseth has not been far off what he and Trevor Bayne have been saying.
Stenhouse won two of the four restrictor-plate races last season, so it should come as no surprise he views Saturday night’s race as his best chance to win and again score a playoff berth. If he does not, Stenhouse will continue fighting from just below the bubble cutoff and he’ll need to vastly improve upon just three top-10 finishes to date.
And even knowing there is new stuff on the horizon, Stenhouse said it won’t be in play for next weekend when the series returns to a 1.5-miler at Kentucky.
“It needs to be now, but, like I said, the process of getting something new and deciding what path you’re going to go down to make the cars better and faster is, you kind of get a group together,” Stenhouse said. “It’s been nice having Matt kind of back up what we’ve been saying about our cars and trying to get us going down a direction of fixing that, so it’s been good having him there. Even when he’s not in the race car, he’s still a part of our meetings, still looking at my race notes from Sonoma even though he didn’t race. The same with Chicago.
“We’ve been talking a lot of what we need for our cars to be faster, so that’s been a huge positive. But you’ve got to get in that room, figure out what you want, then you’ve got to design it and then you’ve got to get it approved and then you’ve got to put it in production to get it to the race track.
“It’s not as quick as what I want it to be, but we’ll see. Hopefully, it’ll be good things to come.”