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In the Draft: Stenhouse Jr. gets much-needed break

June 05, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM,

Off-week comes after driver has two bad races, drops to second in standings

The past two weekends have been tough, but I am confident in my team and certain we will bounce back.

Coming off Iowa, we all had big expectations for Charlotte. It is a track that every driver wants to win because of the abundance of friends and family in attendance. Around Lap 60, I wasn't sure exactly what happened, but I felt something hit around my feet. Something happened to our drive shaft, which sent us to the garage. My guys did an amazing job repairing our Ford and getting me back on the track in 12 minutes.

"These two dreadful weeks dropped us to second in the standings, but I am confident that my team will bounce back and take the lead again soon. We aren't giving up."


After being 20 laps down, we decided to use the track time for experimental purposes so when we come back to Charlotte in the fall, our car will be strong. Our Sprint Cup teams also asked us to try certain setups for them to see how it would affect the handling of the car. My teammates are in a tight points battle in the Cup Series; we wanted to help them collect data for their race on Sunday. We are one big team at Roush Fenway Racing.

Last weekend in Dover, our car wasn't quite as fast as we wanted. During our two-hour practice session on Friday, I think my guys changed everything in the car besides the driver. After practice, [crew chief] Mike Kelley and I sat down and discussed the possible changes we wanted to make. It rained Friday night, which washed all the tire rubber off the track, creating some uncertainty for us on our setup.

We guessed right. We qualified fourth for the 5-Hour Energy 200. When the green flag dropped, I quickly moved into second place and was just cruising, waiting on the competition caution on Lap 40. Coming off Turn 2 on Lap 26, the car snapped loose, causing me to spin. Our No. 6 Cargill Beef Ford was mangled. We took the car to the garage for repair. My guys worked feverishly to get us back out for the remainder of the race.

Every point is crucial in the Nationwide championship points standings, so we knew we had to go back out there and earn as many points as possible.

These two dreadful weeks dropped us to second in the standings, but I am confident that my team will bounce back and take the lead again soon. We aren't giving up.

We will enjoy this weekend off and regroup before heading to Michigan. Roush Fenway has a superb record at Michigan International Speedway. This is in Ford's backyard, so we always want to get a win there for our manufacturer.

Even though it is an off-weekend, my schedule is full. We are heading to Boston on Tuesday for our Roush Fenway Racing sponsor summit. This is a really neat experience for our sponsors because they get to take batting practice at the legendary Fenway Park. I wonder if any of them can hit it over the Green Monster?

From Boston, we travel to Nashville for the CMT Awards on Wednesday night. I got my boots and Nationwide championship belt buckle ready to go. I am honored that Nationwide presented me with the opportunity to announce their Nationwide On Your Side Award for Best New Live Act during this year's show.

We filmed the presentation of the award last week, which will air during the live show. I am really excited for the winner, an amazing performer. Make sure you tune in to CMT at 8 p.m. ET .

After Nashville, I am flying to Nebraska to race my sprint car. This is the first time I have had a chance to drive my sprint car this year. It will be great change of pace, and I am stoked. It will be like the old days when I raced sprint cars on the weekends.

Well, we are about to land in Boston so I hope everyone has a great two weeks. I will catch up with you later.

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.