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In the Draft: A tale of two races for Stenhouse Jr.

September 25, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM,

Stenhouse Jr. followed victory at Chicago with disappointing finish at Kentucky

What can I say the past two weekends have been complete opposites!

Despite really strong showings there, Roush Fenway had never won a race at Chicagoland Speedway, so it was awesome to get Jack [Roush] into Victory Lane for the first time there. Our No. 6 Ford that weekend was one "Bad School Bus." Blue Bird Corporation made its NASCAR debut as a sponsor. Blue Bird bused in a large group to cheer us on so it was awesome to be able to get a win. I heard the guests in the suite were going crazy and cheering loudly when we took the lead with 20 to go.

Nationwide Series

2.R. Stenhouse1,0104
3.A. Dillon99519
4.S. Hornish96846
5.J. Allgaier911103

While in Chicagoland, Roush Fenway Racing announced that I will pilot the historic No. 17 Ford Fusion next year in the Sprint Cup Series with the current team partners Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest each returning to the team as primary sponsors in 2013.

I am truly grateful for this opportunity that I have been given by Jack and the entire Roush Fenway Racing organization. I look forward to the transition into the Sprint Cup Series and to joining the championship-level No. 17 team next year, but right now our main focus is the Nationwide championship.

Last weekend at Kentucky, our No. 6 Ford was stout, but under the competition caution we made contact with the No. 14 machine while exiting pit road. The right-side fender buckled up, but my guys did a great job of repairing the fender and keeping me on the lead lap.

As I was marching up through the field, I made contact with the outside wall in Turn 4, which caused a tire rub leading to a flat right rear. We kept working on our mangled Ford and were able to leave Kentucky with a 17th-place finish.

My entire team was disappointed, as we all thought we had one of the cars to beat. We knew the RCR [Richard Childress Racing] cars were going to be strong, but we felt like we could contend for the win.

I am so proud of my No. 6 team and their determination. We restarted 31st after suffering the flat tire and were able to claim a 17th-place finish. Their never-give-up attitude shows why they are a championship-caliber team.

This weekend we travel to the Monster Mile. Last time we were running second and I just lost it coming off Turn 2. It was my mistake, so I owe my team a good finish this time around.

I am also making my third career Sprint Cup start this weekend. Cargill's Rancher's Reserve will be the paint scheme on both my Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars. Cargill has been a great supporter of me and the entire No. 6 team. I am truly thankful that it jumped on board for our Cup race at Dover. Hopefully we can get Cargill into Victory Lane for at least one if not both of the races.

The weather here in North Carolina is perfect golfing weather, so I am off to the greens.

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.