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In the Draft: Stenhouse Jr. focused on a strong finish

September 11, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



In the Draft: Stenhouse Jr. focused on a strong finish
With one point separating top-two drivers, title could come down to final race

Last weekend was a big week for the No. 6 team. We earned our fourth pole of the year and claimed a strong second-place finish at Richmond. Our No. 6 Ford was too loose for the majority of the race, but the guys kept making slight chassis adjustments during the race. By the end, it was coming to us, but we just weren't as good as Kevin [Harvick].

Kevin and I had an epic battle in the closing laps. We battled side-by-side for 10 laps or so before he finally cleared us. My car rolled through the corners on the outside really well, while he was better on the inside lane. He would "dive bomb" into the corners, but we got a better run off the corner. That was a lot of fun, and you always enjoy racing those guys for the win.

Stenhouse vs. Sadler

Average finishes at remaining tracks
TrackStenhouse Jr.Sadler
Kentucky8.77.0
Dover14.014.0
Charlotte22.218.5
Kansas5.522.5
Texas11.014.2
Phoenix6.615.4
Homestead3.019.3

It was good to see Kevin win at Richmond since we stole the Atlanta race he dominated. During the Atlanta race, I radioed my crew chief that Kevin was driving off into the sunset. It felt like we led most of that race because he was so far out front that I couldn't even see him.

On the final restart at Atlanta, the No. 22 [of Brad Keselowski] shoved us to the lead, and we went on to claim our fourth win of the season. It was awesome to celebrate with Cargill and all of their guests in Victory Lane.

We are down to the final eight races of the 2012 season and are sitting one point behind Elliott Sadler in the championship hunt. I have said all year this battle is going to go down to the last lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Elliott is a fierce competitor and strong at all eight of the upcoming tracks. However, so are we. Make sure to watch these final eight races as we battle it out, because I think it's going to be a lot of fun for everyone.

We landed around 1 a.m. Saturday morning from Richmond, and I was back at Charlotte-Douglas airport at 8:30 a.m. getting ready to fly back out to Lincoln, Neb., to go race my sprint car. When I landed, they picked me up and we headed to the track. I didn't even know what track we were headed to for the race.

Stenhouse Jr. Racing doubled up at Eagle Raceway for the 2012 edition of the Nebraska Cup. My night ended early after suffering a flat right-front tire, but my teammate Jason Johnson went on to dominate the 30-lap A-Main and captured his third Nebraska Cup victory. Jason has 17 wins so far this season. It was a great outing for the Stenhouse Jr. Racing team.

This weekend we travel to Chicagoland. It is one of the few tracks where Roush Fenway has never posted a win, so I'd love to get Jack into Victory Lane there this weekend. During our last outing there, we sat on the pole and led 135 of 200 laps before a late-race caution spoiled our bid for the win. Our No. 6 team has four top-five finishes in five races, so we need to carry that momentum into this weekend and the upcoming races.

Our Ford will look a tad different this weekend as we will debut our Blue Bird Corporation paint scheme. It would be great to get them into Victory Lane in their first NASCAR race as a sponsor.

Well, I am off to go play a few rounds of golf. I hope everyone has a great week, and we will catch up later.

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.