NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
January 16, 2010
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
DENISE MALOOF: Moving right along, we have the Roush Fenway NASCAR Nationwide Series tag team of Colin Braun and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Gentlemen, quick synopsis going into 2010, hopes, dreams, impatience, ready to get on the track?
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: I'm ready. The guys are working really hard back at the shop. The off-season is long it seems like, and for the crew guys I think it seems kind of short because they're working really hard.
But I'm ready to go. Hopefully we can run around in the Top 10 somewhere at the start of the season and just gradually get better from there.
COLIN BRAUN: I'm certainly excited about it, having Conway Freight come and step up to the Nationwide Series is going to be a lot of fun. Racing Ricky all year is going to be fun, and goals are definitely to try and win that Rookie of the Year championship like I did in the Truck Series, you know, and having a really good crew chef in Eddie Pardue a bunch of hard-working guy is I think going to help get us to that dream.
Q. Ricky, after such a solid year in the ARCA series in 2008, how much does it test your patience that you were only able to get on the track for the Nationwide Series last year for seven races or so? How much does that test your patience? I know you're probably aching to get on the track. How much does that test your patience?
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: It really tested it a lot. But that was one of the things that I needed to learn was patience, you know, for these longer races. I needed to learn patience. So I think that helped.
Going to the track, learning from Greg and Matt, it wasn't the ideal place that I wanted to -- way to learn that I wanted to, but it tested the patience pretty good, that's for sure. But this year we're really looking forward to getting on a roll, running week in and week out, and I think it's going to be a lot different year.
Q. For both Ricky and Colin, with only three full-time double duty drivers, Cup and Nationwide in the series this year, with Kyle not defending his championship, at least as he says now, do you guys view that as a real opportunity for you guys to make a statement? And when are we going to see another Nationwide Series driver win the championship as opposed to a Cup guy?
COLIN BRAUN: Well, I think even though Kyle is not going to come back and defend his championship, I think you're still going to see a lot of Cup drivers in the Nationwide races on the companion events for sure. So I think that's good. I enjoy racing against those guys, certainly in the Truck Series when though guys would come and race, I felt like it was really good. It taught you a lot and you got to race against the guys that were the best in the business and learn from them. Looking forward to doing the same thing in the Nationwide Series I think is going to be a big help.
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: Yeah, I don't really know when you're going to see a Nationwide regular win the title. But you know, like Colin said, there's going to be week in and week out a lot of Cup drivers driving. You know, you saw last year Brad Keselowski come through with some pretty big wins. So it can be done. You've just got to be at the right place at the right time and make sure you're there at the end.
You know, you can learn a lot from the Cup drivers that are coming over and running with us. You don't like it in some ways, but then again, you can learn a lot from it.
Q. Question for both guys. It's going to be like going in two different directions, I apologize. First off, your two programs aren't fully sponsored for the season, so if you can take us inside the walls of the organization, is there optimism? Is it no big deal, although it is a big deal? What's that like in terms of how that's looked at within your walls?
COLIN BRAUN: Well, I think there's certainly a lot of optimism. Those guys are working really hard trying to find sponsors. I think they've been close on a couple different deals for both of our programs. I feel like they're doing a really good job and working hard at it, and once we get racing and get a couple of couple races into the season, I think that's going to help a lot more, if we don't have anybody signed up by then. I know it's something they're definitely working at hard, and I'm sure they'll be sponsored by somebody.
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: Yeah, it's definitely -- you know, in this economy it's tough to get sponsorships, and we're definitely glad to have Citi Financial on our No. 6 Ford Fusion for 18 races. It gives us a starting point, and hopefully we run well in the first few races and go ahead and lock sponsorship down for the rest of the races. Needless to say, they're working hard.
It's not the easiest job but definitely a job that the fans don't see, and they're working really hard, and I think we've got a good group of people in our sales department to go out there and sell sponsorship. Colin and myself has told them, we're up for anything. Anything that they need, we'll help them do to sell the sponsorship.
COLIN BRAUN: Another thing I forgot to mention. It's neat to have a great team owner like Jack Roush come out and say, look, we're going to run these cars whether they have a sponsor for those races or not. I think that shows what kind of person Jack is, and certainly it's nice for young drivers like myself and Ricky to have somebody like that sitting there saying we're going to run these no matter what. I think that helps show sponsors that he's obviously serious about it and has confidence in us.
Q. Who is the favorite for the Rookie of the Year battle, and what do you think that championship might turn on? What's going to be the key point of the season?
COLIN BRAUN: I don't really know who the favorite would be. I guess that's -- it might be a good media poll or something, I don't know. But I think it's going to be a lot of fun to race with Ricky throughout the year I feel like, and I think it's going to be certainly -- it'll be a good close battle I'm sure until the end.
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: Yeah, like Colin said, you can't sit here and say from his and my perspective who the favorite is, but we're definitely going to race hard for it. We're also going to help each other out. Being in the car, being at the track testing with each other, we've done quite a bit of tests over the years that we've been at Roush. So we're really going to be able to help each other out, and hopefully we definitely want a Roush Fenway to win the Rookie of the Year. Like he said, it's going to be close. It's going to -- we're going to race it out pretty hard.
But I believe we can get it to come from the Roush Fenway stable and bring it home for us, one of us. I don't really know who, though.
Q. Where do you think your biggest learning curves will be in the Nationwide car?
COLIN BRAUN: Well, I think for me one of the biggest things is just learning who I'm racing with and how those guys race. I'm used to the Truck Series where those guys race pretty intense and it's pretty cutthroat all the time, where I think the Nationwide Series is a little bit like that, but I think a lot of those guys seem to be a little bit more laid back till the end of the race. Obviously the last 20 laps are going to be cutthroat, but I think you may not have quite as much intensity just because those races are longer and you get more of a chance to work on your cars, where the truck deal, you get behind early on in the race, and it's tough to make it back up. So I think that lends itself to making really hard, tough racing throughout the whole event.
I think the biggest thing is going to be kind of figuring out how those races go just from kind of a consistency and flow standpoint and learning how to race those guys.
RICKY STENHOUSE, JR.: Definitely going to be learning how to race the guys you're racing with, learn some characteristics about them throughout the year. But I haven't had a chance to go to every single racetrack that we're going to be running on in the Nationwide Series this year, and I think that's going to be one of the biggest learning curves is track to track. Only running seven races last year, we didn't get to run every single track, so that's going to be run of the biggest things I'm going to have to learn is how to get around each track.
DENISE MALOOF: Good job, guys. We look forward to watching you this year.
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