Ford Performance NASCAR: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney Loudon Media Sessions

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 19, 2019
EVENT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, Loudon, NH. (Media Availabilities)

RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – DO YOU HAVE A PLAN FOR MAKING THE PLAYOFFS IF YOU DON’T WIN A RACE? “Short of winning, yeah. We’ve been trying to get stage points as much as we can and we’ve been doing that the last few weeks. We had a strong car last week and cautions and pit strategy didn’t exactly work out the way that we wanted it to, but I think we were in sixth or seventh position coming to the white and, I don’t know, a couple cars got together underneath us and moved us outside the VHT and we ended up finishing 12th there, but I felt like we had a top 10 car and got to lead some laps and just build confidence that the mile-and-a-half program is where it needs to be. We had a good run last year here in Loudon. I think our short track program this year needs a little bit of work. It’s been a while since we’ve been on a place where you’re in the brakes and slowing the car down and trying to get it to turn, so we’ll see how qualifying goes. You need to qualify good here to try and get stage points here in the first stage and just really trying to accumulate as many points as we can. We feel like we’ve done a really good job in getting stage points, but I guess you could say the third stage, the final stage, we just haven’t been doing as good of a job as we need to to get that ultimate finish out of it to add to our point total. We’ve just got to clean some things up to make sure that we do that.”

HARVICK SAID IF GUYS RACED LIKE THIS 10 YEARS AGO THEY WOULD HAVE GOTTEN PUNCHED IN THE MOUTH. HAVE YOU NOTICE AN INCREASE IN AGGRESSION? “Yeah, I definitely think the cars and conditions play into how people drive and knowing that if you keep your track position, if you get track position on restarts, then you set yourself up for a way better finish and just running better. We’re all super-aggressive. I enjoy it, especially when I have a car capable of doing what I want it to do. I could see Kevin saying that because I feel like that was the mentality of the garage for a long time and I think just like every sport changes and I feel like now you’ve got a bunch of us that feel like we’re racing for our job every lap, so we go out and put it all on the line. I mean, it’s not a ‘hey, here’s our 43-car field’ like back in the day. I think now there are people standing in line, some with money, that can come in and take your job if they want to and so I think the whole mentality is just a little bit different from that aspect.”

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HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THIS WEEKEND? “I think when it comes down to it it’s gonna be really similar to Kentucky. The mile race tracks being able to bump and bang and move each other out of the way I think it’s gonna happen. It’s kind of funny, I was talking to people earlier and they’re like, ‘I don’t understand, you can run the first Martinsville and nobody has a scratch on the car and the second Martinsville all of a sudden fenders are beat off of it and everybody is super-aggressive.’ It’s kind of the same thing with Richmond and I think it’s getting closer to Playoff time and there’s cars that are right there on the cutline, really battling hard. You’ve got people like us that kind of have to make a bigger jump, but are still looking to steal stage points and come up with a strategy to have a shot at the win or at least put ourselves in a position to do that. I expect people to be moving each other out of the way.”

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT POCONO? “I try not to worry about Pocono. I’m trying to figure out what we’re gonna do here at Loudon first. I am excited with putting PJ1 on the race track at Pocono. I do think that will help, but we’ve got a lot to do this weekend first.”

WOULD TONY STEWART HAVE GONE OFF THE DEEP END WITH ALL OF THIS BLOCKING? HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE PUNTED A DRIVER OR TWO. WHERE DOES THIS PHYSICAL STUFF END? “We all try to calculate whether it be a block or somebody is putting the block on us, you try to calculate that before it happens. If somebody puts a late block on you too many times, then I think you just get fed up with it and probably crash them. I try to do it calculated and like last I shot the middle a couple times there on restarts, but I felt like I had a gap and it wasn’t too tight, and I knew that my car was capable of doing what I wanted it to do and I knew that when I got down into the corner in the middle three-wide I could still be in control of it and wide-open, and so I try and calculate everything I do. If that’s putting a block on somebody, then making sure I’m not doing it last-minute.”

THEY KNOW NOT TO MESS WITH YOU. “I’m sure they will. For us, like here at New Hampshire, you block for a few laps and all of a sudden the cars get spread out a little bit and all of a sudden you’ve got a much easier race if you can keep that track position like I said earlier. It’ll be interesting to see how the race plays out. They put PJ1 all the way to the fence, but I can tell you anything outside the third groove right now is really slick, so it’ll be interesting to see if that changes throughout the weekend or not.”

THOUGHTS ON THE HEAT THIS WEEKEND? “I feel like in the Cup car I haven’t really had any hot races here at Loudon, but I do remember a few XFINITY races, where it did get pretty warm. All in all, I’ve put a lot of work in during the week to make sure that I’m ready for that, and I feel like, for me, the hotter it is the better. I feel like it doesn’t hinder my ability at all in the car and I feel like I’m ready for it.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS PLACE? “I like it. It’s difficult. It’s not the easiest to get around. You’ve got bumps getting into the corner. You don’t have a whole lot of grip out there even with the PJ1. You’re always looking for more and then it’s tough to pass, and so you’ve got to be good by yourself, but you also have to figure out how you’re gonna get your car to handle and be able to pass. It’s difficult and I think that’s why we like it.”

HOW WILL LONG GREEN FLAG RUNS AFFECT YOU WITH THE HEAT? “I don’t feel like it affects me at all. I think watching some people I feel like it could hinder them a little bit. We all push really hard in our race cars no matter what. I do remember having strep throat here for a week back in like 2012. I ran the XFINITY race and finished third, I believe, maybe fourth, and then I got out and passed out, so I obviously was on the verge of not feeling well and still got the job done, so I feel like once we’re in the car we get the job done and then you deal with the after effects later.”

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 19, 2019

EVENT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, Loudon, NH. (Media Availabilities)

RICKY STENHOUSE CONTINUED — IS IT JUST PURE ADRENALINE? “Yeah, probably. You’ve got to stay hydrated throughout the week. I put a lot of work in in my gym. It was 100 degrees outside this week at the house and I worked out with no air conditioning and the doors up and did two-a-days this week, so I always feel really good when I get to the race weekend.”

RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang – ANY ISSUES WITH THE HEAT? “I’ve never had a problem with the heat stuff. That’s what our sport is based on. I’ve got other things to worry about. The heat has always been fine to me. I’ve never had any problems with it.”

NASCAR SAID 125 DEGREES IN THE CAR. “That’s pretty cool, actually. Chicago last year was like 140. I’m sure it will get up there in the race with the right side windows being in there. That will increase the cockpit temp, but that’s a cool 125. I don’t mind that. I’m actually more worried about my dog. I’ve got my dog this weekend and it’s hot to have dogs outside when it’s this hot. I’m more worried about him than I am me. I’ll be fine. I’m worried about him.”

WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR RUSSIA TRIP? “The highlight was the air race stuff. That was awesome. We have a buddy who competed in that and I just thought it was neat to see how that all worked. You’re a fan of all the different kind of motorsports, whether it’s land, sea or air. You’re fascinated by everything of what makes them work and the way their weekend goes. We were able to go up in the competition building where they ran it all and I thought the way they ran it was really unique and very efficient, but just like the rules those guys go through. Those guys are pulling 12 g’s and that’s insane without a g-suit. I just thought it was really interesting of how they did all that stuff and then talked about how they were gonna get better throughout the weekend. They look at data like we do. They change stuff on their plane like we change things on our cars to make them better. I just thought that was pretty neat, and the location they had it at it was over water, so it was brilliant. You could put one of these anywhere and it sits right in the middle of the city. I just thought that part was really neat, and then seeing other cultures. I thought the city in Kazan and Russia was beautiful. The people were really nice and I think they get a bad rap over there. There are good and bad people wherever you go in the world, but I enjoyed every minute of it. There wasn’t one moment where I felt weirded out about the location, but the air racing stuff, I thought, was the coolest part, just seeing kind of how that all was. I didn’t like the travel over there. You’re halfway around the world. That took a long time to get there, but it was cool to get over there and check out the city and their culture.”

HOW WAS THE CUISINE? “The cuisine was good. I tried to venture out. Not a lot of people know this but horse meat is very big over there in that country and that part of the world. I thought it was weird at first. They raise horses like we raise cattle. It’s just kind of their thing. I didn’t try it and I’m upset I didn’t because when else are you ever gonna try it, but I thought the food was great. Beef stroganoff, that’s a bit thing over there and it was good. It’s food. You can eat it. It’s good. You can’t look at it or read into it too much. Just to eat it is fine.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED — HOW DO YOU LOOK AT POCONO AND THEN WATKINS GLEN? “Two places I feel like will be good for us. Pocono I thought we were really fast there, we just didn’t qualify good and restarts never went our way, but I think we passed the most cars there all day. We just never got up there to show what speed we had, so I’m looking forward to Pocono. The Glen, I love road course racing so the Glen is gonna be fun. I’m double duty that weekend and able to run the XFINITY car that weekend, but the next two – this week, the next two, really all of them I look forward to, but I’m looking forward to running double duty. I haven’t done that yet this year. I’ve only got a couple of them, so I’m excited for the Glen. Pocono, hopefully we can go back and actually show what speed we have because I thought we were contenders if we could have got up there.”

THE GLEN LOOKS LIKE FUN FOR A DRIVER. “It is. It’s just interesting. It’s the complete opposition to Sonoma. In Sonoma you’re scared to push the throttle down because you’re gonna spin the tires at any given moment, but the Glen you can’t push down hard enough. I even think this year with the cars being the way they are, you’re gonna be running even harder there, so I’m excited to get there, but it is fun, especially that bus stop in the back, jumping curbs. Drivers like jumping curbs. Crew guys don’t like us jumping curbs, but it is what it is. The Glen is a blast. I’ve come to like Sonoma, the Glen and the Roval all the same and they’re all different in their own way – you just have to learn how to adapt – but the Glen is fun and, like I said, I get to run even more laps there this year, which is great.”

HARVICK SAID THE RACING IS MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN THE PAST AND 10 YEARS AGO HE WOULD HAVE PUNCHED SOMEONE IN THE MOUTH IF THEY RACED THAT WAY. STENHOUSE SAID IT FEELS LIKE EVERY LAP YOU’RE RACING FOR YOUR JOB. IS THERE A BALANCE TO STAY RELEVENT? “Yeah, it feels like restarts are the craziest they’ve been ever since I’ve been in the Cup Series just because the cars are so draggy. That’s the easiest spot to kind of make a move and you can just drive these cars so hard, it’s just about driving harder than someone else a lot of the time. Your right-foot commitment is way higher, I feel like. As far as the aggressive level, I think people see that because you’re seeing a lot more blocking and cutting off runs now just because you have to do it. You have to do that and I’ve thrown big blocks this year on mile-and-a-half race tracks. I’ve been thrown big blocks this year. That’s just how it is and you kind of expect it. Have I expected to get punched in the mouth a couple of times this year? Yeah, but at the end of the day you realize that that person would make the same move that you do and vice versa. It’s just how the racing is now, just with the package, but I honestly think this year has been pretty decent. I think we’ve seen some good races. We’ve seen some bad ones and that’s just how it is. Not every race is gonna be an amazing race. That’s not how it is. There are some races that are gonna be ‘boring’ but that’s with any package – you’re gonna have that. You’re not gonna have four-wide everywhere, but I think the racing this year has been good. I would agree with both of their statements. Yeah, for sure, but even last year you’re racing every lap like it’s for your job. You have to stay relevant in this deal. You can’t just be relaxed and run around there. There is always someone younger than you and you hope not more hungry than you, but wanting to come up through the ranks and take your job. There are all these people that aren’t in your ride that probably want your job, so you have to prove yourself week in and week out.”

DO YOU SEE ANYONE ABLE TO MAKE A RUN AND BUMP YOU OUT OF THE TOP 16? “I think we’ll be fine if we just don’t have any problems. We’ve kind of been, we had a little stretch there of difficult races and bad finishes that hasn’t really let us separate from that line or get a win. I don’t really see that happening, but you’re never safe unless you’ve won a race. I think we’ll be fine if we don’t have any catastrophic problems – a month in a row where you finish dead last, get no stage points, but you never know. Someone could win just like that right out of the top 16 or right below you and move you back a row. That’s just kind of how this deal is and what makes it exciting. I think we can solve all that by winning a race here soon.”

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