Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Is Ready To Change Opinions

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Getty Ricky Stenhouse Jr. celebrates a Daytona 500 win.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the Daytona 500 on February 19 and checked off one of the biggest goals in NASCAR. His critics still remain vocal, but he is ready to change their opinion.

Stenhouse admitted during the post-race press conference that he has heard the nicknames about his aggressive driving style. “Wrecky Spinhouse” is one comment from Kyle Busch that stood out over the years, but there are other examples.

As Stenhouse explained, there are moments in his career where he has made mistakes. These have led to crashes at Daytona International Speedway among other tracks, especially as he has tried to turn a 15th-place car into one that could contend for a top-five finish.

“Obviously, you’re going to have haters everywhere, and when you have somebody at the time like Kyle Busch getting out and bashing you, that’s difficult to overcome,” Stenhouse said after the Daytona 500.


“I mean, I feel like I’ve put myself in some bad spots throughout my career, but the faster we get our cars, the more I can take care of them and still run them close to the front. It’s something I’ve always tried to do, which is at sometimes an expense, is try and take a car and try and get way more out of it than what’s there.

“I feel like that’s my job to do as a race car driver, is to get the most speed out of a race car that you can, but also in this sport you’ve got to take care of it, and you can’t just leave it all out there every single race.”

Stenhouse Continues To Alter His Approach for the 2023 Season

Being involved in multiple incidents has led to a variety of DNFs. This includes seven due to crashes during the 2022 season. There were also two others, but they were due to mechanical issues.

The DNFs have been a focal point for JTG Daugherty Racing throughout the offseason and into 2023. Stenhouse specifically noted that he completed nearly 99 percent of the Nationwide Series laps during the 2011 and 2012 seasons when he worked with Kelley and won two championships. Getting back to this consistency is a major goal.

“So I think we’ll do a better job of kind of setting our realistic expectations each week,” Stenhouse continued. “If we feel like 15th is where we need to be that given week, then that’s where I’m going to try and get the car to and not try and get it to 10th or fifth like I tend to do.”

Will this approach lead to fewer DNFs in 2023? There is no clear answer, but achieving this goal could certainly change some opinions in the NASCAR Cup Series garage.

Stenhouse’s Crew Chief Delivered a Special Message

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

GettyRicky Stenhouse walks onstage during Daytona 500 introductions.

There were several prominent storylines that stood out after Stenhouse’s win at Daytona International Speedway. One of the biggest was the effect that this Daytona 500 win will have on his career, now and after he walks away from the Cup Series.

The other prominent storyline is one that surfaced after the race ended. It was revealed that crew chief Mike Kelley had left a note in Stenhouse’s car, which simply said, “We Believe.” It was a brief message, but it tied into something much larger.

“That’s been our team’s motto all off-season is, ‘We believe,'” Kelley said after the Daytona 500. “We’re a small team. We’re not a super powerhouse team. We’re small. I think there’s 40, 45 employees that work in our shop every day. But I have 45 people that believe in what we’re trying to accomplish.

“We’re trying to get people to believe in Ricky Stenhouse again. We’re trying to get people to believe in myself and the vision that we have. That’s all it was, a simple note on a piece of duct tape that I wrote that said “we believe, and we believe today,” and I stuck it up there above his head.”

Stenhouse was able to deliver a win after Kelley wrote the message, and now the focus shifts to other tracks. The goal is now to contend for wins at other tracks on the schedule so that the No. 47 team can continue stacking points ahead of the playoffs.

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