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In the Draft: Stenhouse Jr. expects fight to the finish

November 06, 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM,

Tied atop the standings, Stenhouse Jr. thinks title will go down to Homestead

It's down to the final two races, and we are tied with Elliott [Sadler] atop the championship standings. We've all known that this battle was going to go down to the final lap at Homestead.

Phoenix International Raceway is a great track for him; he won there earlier this year, and we finished third. Homestead-Miami Speedway is a good track for our team, so it is going to be a grueling fight all the way to the end.

Last week at Texas Motor Speedway, our No. 6 team had high expectations going in because of our win there in the spring. We had NOS Energy Drink on board for its final paint-out of the season. In its previous two races, we had two second-place finishes, so we really wanted to put it in Victory Lane at Texas.

Our car was extremely loose. [Crew chief] Mike Kelley made some huge swings trying to tighten our Ford, and the final adjustment helped tremendously, allowing us to work our way up to a hard-fought fourth-place finish.

Roush Fenway Racing, with the help of NOS Energy Drink, chose six winners for the Stenhouse 6 Challenge, and the winners got their names on the decklid of my car at Texas. Fans submitted pictures via Twitter showing why they were #ImNOSsome for six days. I loved seeing all the creativity, and it was tough to have to narrow it down to six out of the 498 submissions we received.

This weekend, we travel to Phoenix International Raceway. Phoenix has been an OK track for us. We know we have our work cut out for us because our championship rival won there in March. We are bringing one of our favorite cars, nicknamed Maverick. Our main goal is to have a solid finish and leave Phoenix still as the points leader.

Valvoline NextGen is making its debut on our car this weekend. Valvoline is running a cool Twitter promotion where fans can name their prize. Log on to, follow the page, then enter whatever you want to win, followed by #ValvolineDIY, and it could be yours.

I am going out to Phoenix early to play a few rounds of golf before the weekend. Golf is my stress relief and will get me geared up for the final two races.

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. The devastation is unbelievable.

Well I have to catch my flight to Phoenix. 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.