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In the Draft: Stenhouse struggles at Michigan; looks to Road America

June 19, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM,

Disappointing run doesn't spoil star-studded week in Nashville leading up to MIS

Michigan International Speedway is considered the home track for Ford and Roush Industries, so you always want a strong showing there. Considering how good we were there last season, it's pretty much safe to say that we were not very happy with our finish there this weekend.

*Video: Stenhouse Jr. has car issues again

The track was recently repaved which brought a lot of unknowns for all of us. The Sprint Cup Series got an extra practice, which allowed us to review our teammates' notes and get a game plan together. We brought the same set-up in our No. 6 Ford that we finished second with last year. The car's handling was tight during all three Nationwide practice sessions on Friday but, when it came to race time on Saturday, we were extremely loose. We took a big swing at it, adjusting the load on the sway bar, but lost two laps in the process. I am proud of my guys because the past three weekends have been tough, but no one ever gives up and they always fight to the end.

"I usually don't look forward to road courses but, after this past weekend, I can't wait for Road America. "


I usually don't look forward to road courses but, after this past weekend, I can't wait for Road America. Two weeks ago, we tested at Virginia International Raceway (a road course located in Danville, Virginia). I feel like I learned a few things during the test that can help me during the road course races. I definitely feel more comfortable going to Road America this year than I have in the past.

Last year, we started eighth and also finished there so ideally we want to improve on that finish. However, after our luck the past three races, we would settle for a top-10.

Prior to Michigan, I got the opportunity to attend the 2012 CMT Music Awards in Nashville, which was an amazing spectacle. Our great series sponsor, Nationwide Insurance, presented the award for Best New Live Act, as well as the Nationwide stage that showcased the upcoming new talent in country music.

The morning of the event, we teamed up with and toured several of Nashville's historical sites. Our first stop on the tour was Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant. The original Puckett's was in Leiper's Fork, which is small town outside of Nashville. The business grew and they opened their second store in Franklin, Tenn. They started hosting songwriter's night where some of Nashville's best undiscovered songwriters could showcase their songs. The Puckett's in downtown Nashville has been there approximately two years now, so if you are in Nashville grab some breakfast or lunch there.

Our next stop was the world famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Many country artists have played on the stages at Tootsies. They have an old Cadillac also known as the "Purple People Seater" decked out in Tootsies' colors. I begged for them to let me take it for a spin, but with no luck.

We also hit Ernest Tubb's Record Shop and Trail West before heading to the Bridgestone Arena for the awards show. I worked the red carpet alongside ESPN's Marty Smith, interviewing some of my idols. Interviewing is harder than you think, but overall I had a great time and would like to thank Nationwide Insurance, CMT and everyone in Nashville for this event that I will always cherish.

I left Nashville and headed to Lincoln, Neb., to race my sprint car for the first time in two years. My Ford Ecoboost car looked awesome. We didn't win, but had a great time. I am looking forward to running my sprint car again in August at the Knoxville Nationals. It the same weekend we are racing at Iowa Speedway, so maybe I can pull out two wins that weekend!

This past Sunday Father's Day, so I want to wish all the dads a Happy Father's Day. I especially want to wish my dad a Happy Father's Day! He is the reason I race, and he has taught me so much. I am thankful every day for all that he has done for me. I love you, Dad!

I hope you guys have a great week. 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.