Stenhouse Jr. enters first race of year with new mindset

By Matt Courson
February 1, 2018

Having won two of the last three restrictor plate races in NASCAR’s premier series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a different mindset entering the first race of the season.

At this point last year, Stenhouse was winless in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. However, that stat has changed this time around.

The Mississippi-native claimed victory last year at both superspeedways on the circuit, Talladega and Daytona.

Stenhouse used to enter the Daytona 500 with a mindset of “I want to get a good finish and start the season off right,” but he never thought about winning it due to never being in contention to win.

“I never thought about winning it because in XFINITY I ran up front in some speedway races but never had a great opportunity to win,” Stenhouse said.

“Fast forward to Cup, we were never in position to lead a race, win a race so I never really knew how that was gonna go,” Stenhouse added.

He is with a manufacturer that is capable of winning it, for sure. Ford swept all four plate races in 2017 and three of four in 2016.

After the recent success at superspeedways, Stenhouse feels like he can claim his first ever Harley J. Earl trophy.

“I feel like going to Daytona, my mindset is a little bit different than normal,” Stenhouse said. “I really feel like we have a shot to win.”

The year 2017 was a career year for the 30-year-old. Stenhouse led for 56 laps and netted nine top-10 finishes.

He also claimed a pole award for the first time since 2013.

The driver of the No. 17 Ford was also eligible for the 2017 NASCAR playoffs for the first time in his career.

In December, it was reported he and longtime girlfriend and fellow competitor Danica Patrick would be separating after being together for five years.

The 60th Annual Daytona 500 is slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX February 18.


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