CONCORD, N.C. — It’s been a big 48 hours for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing: A season-best fourth place at Bristol, three main sponsors renewing and the announcement that Ford plans to introduce the Mustang into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018.
“The Mustang is cool. Winning races in Mustangs and championships in Mustangs, it’ll be cool to get back in a Mustang,” Stenhouse said at the race shop in Concord, North Carolina.
Stenhouse achieved a high amount of success in the Ford Mustang during his two full-time seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, recording back-to-back championships and eight wins with Roush from 2011-12.
“I felt like it took me two or three years to get used to calling the Fords a Fusion, now we’re going back to a Mustang. All in all, these partners and these color schemes will look good on a Mustang. Hopefully we can get back to our winning ways in those Mustangs, for sure.”
With Fastenal, Fifth Third Bank and Sunny D extending their primary sponsorship agreements for the No. 17 through 2021, the team has firm footing as it prepares for the new body in 2019.
As Ford Performance bats .500 so far this season, winning four of the first eight races with Kevin Harvick (3 wins) and Clint Bowyer (1 win), the speed with an older body style has Stenhouse feeling extremely optimistic about the upcoming change.
“I think this year, we’ve been pretty encouraged by what the Ford teams can do on the mile-and-a-half race tracks, seeing we are really the last car to really change our bodies and really change them up,” Stenhouse said. “So, I’m encouraged by what all we’ve learned and what we feel like we need in our Mustang.”
Now the focus shifts to making those same triumphs happen in the Monster Energy Series, where Stenhouse earned his first two career wins at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway last season.
“Come 2019, I’m really wanting us to get our program to the highest level that we can because I really feel like when we switch to the Mustang in ’19, it’s going to continue to elevate our program. I think Ford’s done their homework and their research and the teams have given a ton of input. Stewart-Haas, Penske, ourselves really put a big collaboration with Ford to get these cars where we want them. I’m excited for 2019, for sure.”
Overall, Roush Fenway Racing has accumulated 70 victories and three championships with the Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series since 2011. Roush hopes to begin the process of obtaining that same prosperity next year.
Jack Roush, founder and owner of Roush Fenway Racing, was also on hand for the sponsorship announcement, sharing just how far back his professional career in the automotive and motorsports industry goes with the Ford Motor Company and the Mustang.
“I went to work right out of college to work for Ford to help build Mustangs in the plants,” Roush told NASCAR.com. “I started racing Mustangs in ’66 and had a great 10-year run of drag racing. We’ve had a great run with Mustangs and have had a lot of success with Mustangs in the Xfinity Series.
“…I look forward to being able to carry the Mustang banner to the front in NASCAR’s highest series.”