With a trip to Talladega Superspeedway on the schedule, JTG Daugherty driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has an opportunity to win his third race on a superspeedway. In his NASCAR Cup Series career, Stenhouse has posted six top-five finishes at the Alabama track, as well as a trip to Victory Lane. He continues to contend for the win each time he heads to Talladega, and now he is providing some insight into this success.
Stenhouse met with Heavy and members of the media on Friday morning and detailed his approach to superspeedways, specifically focusing on Talladega. He explained that finding success at the 2.66-mile track is not a simple formula. Fast cars play a considerable role, as does the ability to draft.
“I think that it definitely evens the playing field out a little bit more than some of the other tracks do when it comes to having the most resources, having the all-out fastest car,” Stenhouse told Heavy and other media members. “Obviously, the draft takes care of a lot of those things, but you still need a fast race car. When we won our first race here at Talladega, we sat on the pole by two-tenths [of a second]. It’s nice to be able to have a car that fast.”
Preparation is key at superspeedway races
Simply having a fast car doesn’t lead to multiple wins at the Geico 500 or YellaWood 500. Drivers also have to spend countless hours preparing for the race while focusing on numerous details. Stenhouse has done so throughout his career, but he explained that adding a new crew chief to the team has helped him grow as a driver.
“Since being paired up with [crew chief] Brian Pattie, he takes a lot of effort, pays a lot of attention to detail when it comes to speedway racing,” Stenhouse added. “And I feel like it’s made me a better speedway racer.
“Just learning over the years how the draft works, what you can do to manipulate other drivers and other cars to give yourself an advantage, then just trying to work and put yourself in the right positions. And get yourself out of positions when you feel like things aren’t going good. It’s just been something we’ve learned over time.”
Stenhouse’s success also extends to Daytona International Speedway
While the JTG-Daugherty driver has continued to fight for the checkered flag at Talladega, he has also performed well at another iconic track. Stenhouse has 18 Cup Series starts at Daytona, two top-five finishes, and a win. He took the checkered flag at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in 2017.
As Stenhouse explained to Heavy and the assembled media, his success at multiple superspeedways stems from multiple factors. First, he has to ensure that the No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro is in the right spot and avoiding crashes. Next, Stenhouse highlights how one successful race can lead to even more in the future.
“[We are] putting ourselves in the right positions, and that’s why we tend to have some good runs here,” Stenhouse said. “Once you get a win at a speedway race, and we got back-to-back wins, I feel like it gives you more confidence in the decisions that you are making out on the race track.”
Stenhouse will have the opportunity to add another win to his resume during Sunday’s Geico 500. He will start the race on the ninth row next to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ross Chastain. Fox will broadcast the race (2 p.m. ET) with Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer in the booth.
READ NEXT: NASCAR: Weather Forecast for Talladega Races