Ford Performance NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. & Joey Logano Media Availability

by Official Release On Fri, Feb. 22, 2019

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, February 22, 2019
EVENT: MENCS Driver Availability (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.)

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Little Hug Ford Mustang — ANY FALLOUT FROM THE INCIDENTS ON TRACK LAST WEEK? “I haven’t really talked to anybody. I think there were a lot of people mad or saying things on the radio that we saw this week. I don’t really appreciate it. I feel like I do everything that I have to do to make sure our car stays in the front. We led the most laps of any of the other Ford drivers and yet they all want to run their mouths. I feel like we did what we had to do to stay up front and keep good track position. When we got wrecked on pit road it set us back a little bit. I don’t feel like the wreck on the back straightaway I had a whole lot to do with. All in all, they can think what they way. We had a good speedweeks.”

WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE SAYING STUFF ON THE RADIO THAT YOU DON’T APPRECIATE, DO YOU FILE THAT AWAY? “I definitely do. They won’t get any help from here on out. I think everybody was a little frustrated. We had a plan for all the Fords to work together. Some people that wanted to create that plan kept things a secret and didn’t let us all know exactly what was all going on. So the Toyota’s and Chevy’s stuck together and kind of dominated us a little bit on the strategy part of it. We will have to go back to the drawing board when it comes to how we are going to work together as far as pitting and things like that go. I feel like we got beat at our own game that we have been playing over the last two or three years on the speedways.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED TO HEAR ALL THE STUFF ON THE RADIO? DID YOU WATCH RADIOACTIVE? “Yeah, I watched it. Heck, that is one of the fun things to do during the week. I feel like you learn a lot watching that. You definitely learn what spotters and what teams and drivers think about you. I think it kind of opens your eyes a little bit. I think my crew chief must have heard a few of the things because he relayed the message to me. By the end of the race, we weren’t going to really work with the 22 no matter what. I think you definitely learn a lot, yeah.”

DOES IT HURT YOUR FEELINGS? “You can’t let it hurt your feelings. Especially being you in the top tier of of this level of racing. You get it from fans, you get it from drivers, media, I mean you get from all directions. I know what I’m capable of doing inside of a race car I know what we’re capable of doing on speedway races with me and my spotter and I know I’m really confident on how to keep good track position and side draft and things like that so I don’t really let it bother me as much. I had a lot of Ford people, drivers, when we were leading the outside lane telling me to quit side drafting the inside lane and things like that. I quit side drafting and we lost like five or six rows and then they said, ‘okay go back to side drafting.’ It’s just part of it, Maybe if one of their cars was leading maybe not side drafting would be the thing to do. But with with where we were, and how our car was driving and you know, I was really comfortable side drafting and moving up and down the racetrack. Our Fastenal Ford was driving really, really good on Sunday. There were some that were weren’t driving as good.”

DO YOU EXPECT THE BOTTOM LINE TO WORK HERE AS WELL AS IN YEARS PAST? This weekend I was kind of shocked at how so far – I know we were all kind of out there by yourself but I was surprised at how easy it was to hold it wide open at Atlanta. I thought it was going to be a little bit more difficult. But looking at some of the data, Denny did a long run. You’re definitely going to have a car that’s going to handle the racetrack. When we all get out there in a pack I think it’s going to create a lot more issues than than what we had there and practice. I do think if you can get your car working on the bottom it is definitely going to still be the fast way around. I do think the racetracks going to open up quite a bit.”

WHAT THINGS WEREN’T BEING COMMUNICATED AMONG THE FORD TEAMS LAST WEEK? “I think there were a lot of Ford’s that were kind of left out of exactly when we were pitting. I mean, heck, when we came down pit road and got wrecked on pit road, I looked up and we were the only Ford the got wrecked on pit road. We were running second in line and there was a few Ford’s lined up right behind us and then when I pulled out to pit I looked up and they stayed on track.”

HOW SURPRISING WAS IT TO SEE THE JGR AND HENDRICK CARS WORK TOGETHER LIKE THAT? “That wasn’t surprising. We had a big Ford meeting Sunday morning and we were told that they were going to work together so we had heard about it already beforehand. I’m not surprised because you gotta have numbers when you pit. There’s not enough Toyotas to do it there’s not enough Chevys that are going to be able to work together to make that happen because you got to be fast cars and you got to have the right amount and really when you come down pit road there’s a lot of us Ford’s but you know, you get some that have speed, some that get penalties, some that just have a slow pitstop that fall out of the draft. So those are the things that I feel like you need a lot of you to do it in case some of you mess up.”

YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE WORKED WITH THE 22 AT THE END: “I would have if it benefited me. Yeah, no, I mean, you go back and rewatch it. I think McDowell would have benefited going with the 22, as seen by me. But that’s what rewatching it on Monday. You know, I do agree that you make split second decisions out there. To me, I think you would have got a better finish but at that moment, he he thought if he stayed up top with the 18, he was going to have a better finish. So I mean, those are just things that you’re just making decisions pretty fast. I haven’t talked to Michael but I assume that he probably would go back and rewatch and be like, ‘Oh, dang. Well, I would have had a better finish.’ But it’s easy to go back and rewatch a race and be like, ‘Wow, I should have done that.’”

MCDOWELL ALSO SAID THAT HE DIDN’T FEEL LIKE HE SHOULD HELP THE 22 BECAUSE THE 22 DOESN’T REALLY HELP ANYONE ELSE? “Yeah the 22 doesn’t help his teammates. It’s pretty clear how he races. We’ve kind of always known that but when you get Edsel Ford telling you to work together it is kind of like, ‘Oh, hey, we should all work together.’ So you try to work with them throughout the race. We worked with them quite a bit. We drafted with them a lot but I think when it comes down to it, you remember the ones that really want to work with you and the ones that don’t. It seems like every speedway race you kind of figure out the ones that don’t and the ones that do. Kevin I worked really good together throughout the race and it was fun drafting with him. You have certain ones that you feel like will draft with you.”

DID YOU HEAR WHAT KEVIN SAID ABOUT THE WRECK? “I did, like right before I walked in here. I knew what happened for my seat. Anytime I make a mistake on the racetrack I reach out to those people. I didn’t really feel like I made a mistake. He was at Disney all week so I didn’t call him. We we talked as soon as the Duels were over because I was wondering how I was going to pass him in the duels and and I was like, ‘Well, I was trying to slow down and get a run.’ He’s was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I know. I saw you so I slowed down to. It was good info.

Larson texted me as soon as the race was over and was like, ‘Hey, sorry about that wreck on the back straightaway.’ It just happens. There was a massive gap in the middle and our car was handling really good. I felt like I needed to shoot the middle to get to the top five because you watch these races, the top five doesn’t change within the last, four or five laps. There were six to go and I was like, ‘Well, I got to get to the top five to have a shot at winning.’ That’s the move I made and it just didn’t work out for you.”

EVERYBODY SAYS THEY DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE NEW RULES FOR SUNDAY. IF YOU ARE JUST A FAN, WHAT CAN YOU TELL THEM IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT TO LOOK FOR? “100%, we’re all going to be closer together.
I think that’s pretty well understood, at least from the garage side, especially here in Atlanta when the bottom is rough. You got to have a car to run the bottom late in the run that’s handling. So I feel like we’re all going to be drafting down the straightaway but then when we get to the corner we’re going to fan out and if the car in front of me goes around the bottom I’ll go run the top and then if I go to the top I feel like the car behind me will run the middle so I feel like the racing here at Atlanta is going to be really really good come Sunday. I don’t know how it’s going to be. I didn’t do the Vegas test. There was only 20 cars. I watched it and it was a little more single file I think because the cars that ran the bottom didn’t have to handle as good because the track is smoother and faster but I think here at Atlanta because the bottom is rough and this race track is tricky I do think that the racing will be really good Sunday.”

DO YOU THINK THAT ROUSH FENWAY IS GOING TO BE ABLE TO CATCH UP A LITTLE BIT? “That’s our hope.Speed wise, as far as running by yourself, we’re definitely closer. We’re in the mix after that first practice session anyway. The SHR cars are still fast. I think it It showed which cars still have a pretty good advantage. But that’s here at Atlanta. It’ll be interesting to see to me what this package does throughout the next four or five races kind of really see where we stack up. I felt like Atlanta, we always run top-12ish. I’m ready to get some data points on Vegas, Phoenix Fontana.Even Martinsville and places like that to really see where we shake out. I don’t necessarily like holding it wide open out here in Atlanta, but I do know from our organization standpoint, it gives us a really good opportunity to kind of get back on track.”

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang — DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO TALK TO MCDOWELL OR IS IT DONE AND OVER WITH? “We are good. In all honesty, that is why I am late. We were talking to each other. Everything is fine. We just talked it out. Sometimes we all get heated I guess at the end of a race sometimes. We all want to win, or have the best chance possible. We worked everything out. It isn’t a big deal at all.”

HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THE WEST COAST SWING WILL GO TO SEE WHAT EVERYBODY HAS? “I think when you think of it, there is Atlanta which is its own piece, but when we go to Vegas, Phoenix and Auto Club, they are three different race tracks. Atlanta isn’t going to have the ducts on the car so it will be kind of interesting to see what the difference is. Vegas is going to be a place with more of an easy, wide open race track than here at Atlanta or even when we go to Auto Club. I think Auto Club will be more like Atlanta than Vegas. It will be interesting to see who the strong cars are now and what we have to work on. When you go to the West Coast, there isn’t time to update your cars before you go on to the next race because you have to go back and forth. Kind of what you’ve got is what you’ve got and you work on it after that.”

DOES THE NEW PACKAGE HERE CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY FOR THE BOTTOM LINE HERE THIS WEEKEND? “That is a great question. I expect the top to be pretty strong, especially on restarts and when we are in a big pack. I expect the top to roll pretty good. It can roll the whole run possibly. I can also see the bottom being pretty strong as well. It is too early to tell. I was out there in practice earlier and a lot of cars were in qualifying trim and I was sitting out there waiting because I was in race trim. I was trying to see if anyone wanted to draft or do anything but everyone was focusing on qualifying today. It is hard to say what lane is going to be better and what is going to happen still. I think everyone is just trying to get through today first. There are just so many questions with qualifying and how to approach it and what you need out of your car.”

DOES THIS PACKAGE MINIMIZE OR MAXIMIZE THE NUANCES OF ATLANTA? “I guess it minimizes some of it. There is still a lot of tire wear and the cars are going to fall off. The lap times won’t fall off as much because you aren’t using as much potential out of the car because you have less horsepower. Your overall lap time will hang in there way more than what it used to. I think when you are in dirty air, the ability to make the moves as tires wear off is where that is going to go away pretty quick. Tires are still big at Atlanta. I don’t think that part changes. I just don’t think it is as big as what it was.”

IS IT STILL “THE BIG THREE AND ME’? “Those guys are still going to be strong. They are great race teams and great drivers. They are going to be strong. I don’t know if you are going to have quite the big three that wins so many races, no matter who those three teams are. I don’t know if we will have that as much this year, especially in the beginning part of the year. We don’t really know who has got the best cars. Right now it looks to me from watching lap times that the RCR cars are really quick. They may have made the biggest gain. The SHR cars look good too but RCR seems to have made the biggest gains from where they were. We haven’t qualified or raced yet, but that is what it seemed like in practice. There are going to be more winners I think because there will be more opportunity for things to happen at the end of a race. Strategy will be a lot different. Until we all figure it out and perfect it, there are going to be a lot of different characters up front that I don’t think we have seen as much of.”

HOW CAUTIOUS SHOULD PEOPLE BE BEFORE JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS ON SUNDAY? “You have to give it time. We are all going to have our initial reaction after Atlanta. You guys are all going to write a story about it. We just have to give it a few. When we went to the low downforce races, that was awesome. Everyone said it was the greatest ever, greatest racing. Then as we worked on the cars and stuff, it kind of went back to what we had, which wasn’t bad. I still don’t think it was bad, but we were doing something different just to try it. We will see. What we have, I have been saying this, what you see at Vegas 1 and what you see at Vegas 2 will be two completely different things. You give these teams times to really develop their cars, everything will be different.”

HAVE YOU LOOKED AT ANY OF THE VEGAS TEST VIDEOS AND THE THREE-AND FOUR-WIDE? “Yeah, I watched a lot of videos. That and communicating to drivers. That race is going to be a lot different than what you’ve seen at Vegas in the past. This weekend is like a hybrid. For a few laps it will probably be a big pack and big runs and then you are going to have to be lifting pretty quick. When you go to Vegas, you will have to be wide open for a long time I think. We will see when we get there. I think track temperature is a big piece of it to.”

HOW DO YOU HANDLE FOUR-WIDE THERE THOUGH? “You just gotta be good. It is gonna happen. This is going to cause probably more wrecks, more tempers are gonna fly, more drama. I am pretty sure of that. Cars will be closer to each other. Why do we crash more at Daytona and Talladega than anywhere else? Because we are right next to each other the whole time and eventually there is a mistake or we get to aggressive at the end of the races. You will see some of that here, maybe not to that level, but you will see some of that. Those are the things we will have to deal with. You are going to have to be in the big pack at some point. We will be in dangerous positions. It is just part of it.”

RICKY SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN INFORMED BEFORE THE END OF THE RACE LAST WEEK WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT HIM ON THE RADIO AND THAT HE WOULDN’T HAVE HELPED YOU AT THE END. “We all say things on the radio. We are in the heat of the moment and sometimes you just press the button and it makes you feel better. That was right after a moment that we about crashed. When I say about crashed, if I didn’t lift, the whole field was gonna crash because of a move that was happening. That made me pretty mad because I lost 10 spots after that. That was my frustration. Rightfully so. Maybe he doesn’t know what I am frustrated about. You take things out of context a lot, especially in the heat of the moment when there are 100 other things going on in your race car and someone tells you something that someone else says. You don’t really know until after the race. I don’t really hold much weight to a lot of that stuff. Until you really know the whole story I don’t think you know the why or the what.”

YOU CAN PROBABLY GIVE HIM SOME ADVICE ON BEING THE PUNCHING BAG OF THE GARAGE. YOU HAD THAT ISSUE EARLIER IN YOUR CAREER: “It is part of it sometimes. You are going to be on both ends of these things every now and then. You just go with the flow. You gotta be you. Be the best you that you can be.”

WHEN YOU HEARD ABOUT CHEVY AND TOYOTA WORKING TOGETHER LAST WEEK, WERE YOU SURPRISED? “I was surprised but I also thought it was the greatest compliment we can have. It was cool that they can’t beat us alone and they had to join forces to keep up with us. I guess you kind of look at it as losing your advantage but it is also pretty neat because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I guess for us that was good to know. I am glad we found out but we still had to somewhat stick to what our game plan was and what gave us strength. It seemed like it worked for them, They were up there working together and they had fast cars and were up there as well.”

YOU MADE YOUR FEELINGS KNOWN AFTER THE RACE ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER AND RICKY SAID THAT HE THOUGHT THE PIT SEQUENCE CERTAIN GUYS WERE HUSH-HUSH AND THAT CAUGHT HIM OFF GUARD. IS THERE ANYTHING MORE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WITH COMMUNICATION TO ENSURE WORKING TOGETHER ACTUALLY WORKS OUT? “A lot of times, when you assume people know that is sometimes the worst thing you can do. You think, ‘Oh, he should know that.’ I think that was kind of the situation after the race with me and Michael. I thought he should know that. It is preached to us and something we try to do as best as possible. The facts are, Michael and I have a great relationship. We are friends and talk to each other a lot and it is the last lap. It is something that I am constantly aware of the situation because I am put in the situation more often. Nothing against Michael or his race team it is just that I am in the situation a lot and am more comfortable in it. If you aren’t put in the situation a lot you don’t know what to do until you live through it. That is how you get better, by making mistakes and learning. Maybe I shouldn’t have been as mad or reacted the way that I did but I was frustrated about the situation and assumed that he would know that. We just had a great conversation together and we were laughing about it. It wasn’t the race winning move, it was the difference between me finishing second and him finishing third or fourth. It was going to be better for both of us. We can talk about how instead of a Toyota 1-2-3, we would be talking about how we broke them up and gave our best shot trying to break up what were the two fastest cars working together. To be able to break them up would have been a big story. That is where my frustration was. After you go back and you watch a replay, you go, ‘Oh, I see what you are saying now.’ But I come up to him after the race saying, ‘What were you thinking.’ And I hadn’t seen the whole situation yet. I have been there before and have a great spotter painting the picture for me. It wasn’t really the most fair situation to put him in after that.”

“I knew before that restart that the numbers were stacked against me with those two Toyotas working together. They were going to be tough to beat. It didn’t mean that I couldn’t beat them, just that I needed one move to happen and we had ‘em. We got by the 18 and all I needed was one move to happen behind me and the situation would be completely different. I was just frustrated that we were that close. It was the biggest race of the year and we were all thinking the same thing. It isn’t anyone’s job to help me but it is out job to work together to give Ford the best finish possible. In that case it would have been good for both of us. Both of us would have finished better. That is what I was looking at. Both of us would have finished better than where we were.”

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