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In the Draft: Stenhouse Jr. loves the night life

August 28, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Driver enjoys excitement fans bring to racing under the lights at Bristol, Atlanta

After two straight road-course races, I was more than ready to get back to action on an oval at the much-anticipated night race at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile," Bristol Motor Speedway.

Because of the new track surface, there was a lot of speculation as we traveled to Bristol. After the spring race, they sanded the top groove in an effort to enhance the racing. As we went back, you learned quickly that if you got out of the main groove, you had no control of your car.

"I feel like the energy level of the fans is more intense at night, and, in turn, that gets all of us revved up and ready to go racing. "

--RICKY STENHOUSE JR.

At any rate, the night race at Bristol is amazing. It's Friday night, short-track racing, and you can feel the excitement that the fans bring.

Our No. 6 NOS Energy Drink Ford was stout the entire race. I was hoping that the last 25 laps would have stayed green because we were reeling in Joey [Logano]. On the final green-white-checkered finish, the top-five were all jockeying for position, and I accidentally got into Elliott [Sadler]. By no means do I ever want to wreck someone intentionally. I have tons of respect for Elliott as he an exceptional race car driver, and I have learned so much from him. They say that is "Bristol Racing," but at the same time, I would never have gotten into him intentionally like that.

We have 10 races remaining in the 2012 season, and, as expected, the championship battle is tight. I know it is going to come down to the final lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and we are ready for the challenge.

After the race, we headed out to the Earhart campground to the NOS Energy Drink Stage for an appearance and to throw out some product to the fans. The crowd was amazing. Afterward, we headed to the hospitality area to hang out with some of the customers and team. It really was a good weekend, and we were happy to spend the time with the NOS team and leave Tennessee with a second-place finish.

This weekend we travel to Atlanta. I love racing at Atlanta. The track is rough and fast. You run up high in close proximity to the wall. It's also a night race, and I love racing under the lights. I feel like the energy level of the fans is more intense at night, and, in turn, that gets all of us revved up and ready to go racing.

The great success that we have had this year on mile-and-a half tracks gives us an extra boost of confidence heading into Saturday night's race. We have two top-10 finishes in our past two starts at Atlanta, so hopefully we can keep up the success.

We have Cargill Beef back on our Ford this weekend. Some of the Cargill team will be in Atlanta on Friday night, so we are going to meet up for dinner and catch up.

I have been working a lot on my golf game lately. On Thursday, I am playing in the Reed Sorenson Charity Golf tournament in Atlanta. It is for a great cause -- Speedway Children's Charity -- and hopefully I will bring my A-game.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend, and we'll talk to you next week.

Until next time.

In the Draft with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a twice-monthly blog and the opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. Follow him and the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing team on Twitter: @stenhousejr, @pr6nns, and @roushfenway.