Stenhouse Captures The Nationwide Series Championship!


(WOMR file photo)

Eighteen months ago Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. almost lost his a job!

After just a couple of months into his first full year of racing in the Nationwide Series for Roush-Fenway Racing, Ricky Stenhouse was removed from his seat.   Not only was he removed from the race car, he was reduced to working on all the cars that he had torn up in the first part of the race season!  What a crushing blow to the ego of an up and coming racing phenom.  At that point, it appeared that his job racing in the Nationwide Series at Roush-Fenway was really in jeopardy.

However, team co-owner Jack Roush stood by Stenhouse, and put him back into the RFR #6 Ford after young Stgenhouse had a few weeks to think about his future.

“Ricky was extraordinarily talented,” Roush said Saturday evening. “Every challenge we gave him with a new race track or problem with a car as we changed the car Ricky was bright and quick and talented in meeting those challenges. The thing that was always there when you would reach a situation when it was clear that you could go down this or that path and Mike Beam or Mike Kelley or myself decided to go down a certain path Ricky always went along with it. He never called his dad for support and said we were being to hard on him, he just went along with the program.

“That is what a rookie needs to do. He needs to go with the program with the people looking after him and our group had his interests in mind. The other thing was that he was just driven to be competitive to the extent of self-destruction to start with. It is much easier to temper that and deal with that it is for someone that doesn’t want it as bad as those next to them. They couldn’t realize the ultimate prize. Ricky wanted it bad and he raised himself to be a race car driver. This was his opportunity and he tried to hang on to it too tight to start with and couldn’t realize the success there for him but very quickly we got over that.”

Fast-forward to the Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2011: 

Ricky Stenhouse finished second in The Ford 300 season-ending NASCAR Nationwide race Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and that was plenty good enough to secure for him the 2011 Nationwide Series championship!  Had the race gone just a few more laps, Stenhouse could quite possibly added another race victory to his resume, in addition to the series championship!

“This race track is one of my favorites,” Stenhouse said. “I wish we came here twice at least. Last year was the first year here. I had a lot of fun and this is just my style of race track. You can drive it in hard, let it slide up to the wall and get back in the gas and really hang it out, it just reminds me a lot of sprint car racing. Last year, we finished fourth and ran really strong and this year we just came up one spot short and maybe one corner short, but, man, it was fun racing those guys.

“We were sideways, turning right, trying to keep it off the fence, getting into the fence every now and then, and to race up there with Carl, Brad, Denny, Clint Bowyer, Elliott Sadler, they’re some of the best in the business and to be up there racing with them is fun.”

Check out the unofficial results from the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami.

Here is the final standings for the Nationwide Series after the Ford 300 race at Homesteand-Miami Speedway.


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