Reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. heads into the final stretch of the 2012 season second in championship driver points, six points behind leader Elliott Sadler. With three races remaining in the 2012 season, including Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway, Stenhouse is looking to climb back into the points lead to become the sixth driver in series history to claim consecutive championships.
Stenhouse heads into Texas with momentum on his side, as he celebrated in victory lane at Kansas Speedway about a week-and-a-half ago, the last time the Nationwide Series was in action. It was his sixth win of the season. He is also the most recent series winner at Texas Motor Speedway, winning there earlier this season.
Stenhouse recently participated in NASCAR’s weekly teleconference and talked about the task at hand and what he needed to do to claim a second Nationwide Series crown. Here is what he had to say:
WHAT IS YOUR TEAM STRATEGY AND PREPARATION LIKE HEADING INTO TEXAS THIS WEEKEND AND EVEN FOR THE REMAINING THREE RACES OF THE SEASON.
We’re taking our Chicago car that we won with back to Texas. We’re going to take our setup that we won with at Texas earlier in the year on that race car. So we feel like we’ll have a good showing at Texas. Phoenix, we finished third, I think, earlier in the year, and not too far behind Elliott, who won. I think we’ve got some great racetracks for us. The 2 car also has great racetracks for them. But we’re just going to stay focused on what we’re doing and what we’ve done to win and get to this point. With the racetracks we have left, we feel like we’re in a great position right now.”
WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO CAPTURE A SECOND CONSECUTIVE NATIONWIDE SERIES TITLE?
I think it would be huge. Last year it was cool getting our first one, and then to be able to back it up, I think that would be a big accomplishment. I think it’s been tough. I feel like we’ve performed better this year than we have last year, but we found ourselves still behind. It would be a huge accomplishment for our team and some good momentum.”
BEING SECOND IN THE POINTS AND THE PRESSURE OF THREE RACES TO GO, HOW HARD IS THAT ON YOU AS A DRIVER, KNOWING THAT ONE LITTLE MISTAKE COULD COST YOU BIG
There’s definitely a lot of pressure. There has been all year. I think it doesn’t really come from outside pressure. I put a lot of pressure on myself and on our race team. But I think we made a mistake last week, or two weeks ago at Kansas I made a mistake, but my guys never gave up, they kept working hard, and we came back to win the race. I think if you make a mistake, it had better be early in the race so you can bounce back from it. But there’s definitely a lot of pressure on everybody running for a championship, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s a Nationwide Series championship or your local dirt track series championship. It’s tough to win championships no matter what. So yeah, that pressure is there.”
CAN YOU COMPARE MAYBE THE FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP TO A POTENTIAL SECOND CHAMPIONSHIP AND HOW MUCH IT’S HELPED YOU ALONG THE WAY AND THEN YOU EVEN MENTIONED HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO GET THAT SECOND ONE.
Yeah, I think last year I made fewer mistakes actually. I think this year we’re in more contention to win races, and so I think sometimes I lose track of that we’ve got a championship to win, and I go out to win races. We’ve kind of got to get back to last year where we don’t make any mistakes the last three races. But I don’t think it’s any easier. I think it’s actually a little tougher to get your second one in a row. But I think we’re up for the challenge.”
BEST OF LUCK IN TEXAS, AND MAYBE YOU CAN BRING HOME A SECOND COWBOY HAT IN A ROW.
Yeah, that’s what we’re looking forward to is another cowboy hat. There’s two tracks I really want to win at again, and that was Texas and Homestead. If we can get that accomplished, I think we’ll have another championship, and that’s what we’re shooting for. Thanks for having us on, and we’ll see you all at Texas.”
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