NASCAR Media Site
INDIANAPOLIS- For Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he’s not having that dreaded sophomore slump in 2014. The 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, beat out of girlfriend Danica Patrick for the award last year. More times than not, athletes have a slump in year two for some reason.
Someone forgot to alert the Mississippi native.
Stenhouse, is off to a career start this year as he has one top five and two top 10′s in the first four races. He scored his best career finish last weekend at Bristol where he finished second behind his teammate Carl Edwards.
So why the recent success? Can he keep it going all year?
I think so.
Stenhouse, is a heck of a race car driver and last year was just an adjustment to Sprint Cup racing. He got better and better as the year went on which is something you always like to see. He used that comfort level to propel him to a great start in 2014.
Also, don’t discredit the relationship with new crew chief Mike Kelley either.
Stenhouse and Kelley worked together in the Nationwide Series where they won back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012. The duo requested to work together again in the offseason.
Prior to the season Stenhouse said, “We’re really looking forward to having Mike (Kelley) back on the pit box with me. Mike Kelley and I get along so well and have that good chemistry that you need in a race team, so I’m really looking forward to getting to the track with him.”
That relationship can branch out to a Chad Knaus/Jimmie Johnson deal with how well they get along and know each other.
I also suspect Stenhouse will be a threat to win this weekend at Fontana as he’s really starting to get it. With all the momentum of running up front, getting his old crew chief back and their success together at Fontana in the Nationwide Series, I like Stenhouse this weekend.
Stenhouse, had two top five finishes in Nationwide Series competition with Kelley calling the shots on top of his pit box. Also factor in how good Roush/Fenway Racing is on the two-mile sister tracks of Michigan and Fontana and you have a true contender to take his first Sprint Cup checkered flag on Sunday.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. He’s covered both NASCAR and IndyCar action since 2010 and has been credentialed to many races around the country. He’s also recognized as an accredited member of the media by both NASCAR and IndyCar. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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