By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
TALLADEGA, Alabama – It may not be his hometown of Olive Branch, Mississippi, but Talladega Superspeedway sure feels like home for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
The Roush-Fenway Racing driver returns to the 2.66-mile superspeedway this weekend with an eye on another trip to victory lane after breaking through for his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in this race one year ago.
Not only was it his first Cup Series win, it also came at the track closest to his hometown in north Mississippi, roughly a four-hour drive from Talladega’s high banks.
“It feels good to be back home I guess you could say,” said Stenhouse. “I think for us, I would like to continue that streak of Ford Performance being in victory lane here. I would like to back up what we were able to do last year with qualifying on the pole and then winning the race. That is what we came down here to do. We feel very confident in our race cars when we come here.
“Jimmy Fennig and the guys have been working really hard at the shop on our speedway cars since Daytona. They were a little disappointed we didn’t really contend for the pole there. I think they have worked a little extra hard to see if we can back up our pole like we had here last time. I am anxious to get out there and make some more laps around here. Not sure how much drafting we are going to do. I felt really good with our car at Daytona. The way it was performing in the draft and way it handled.”
Stenhouse has good reason to be in a positive mood when it comes to racing at Talladega. Not only have his first two career wins come on restrictor plate tracks, but his career statistics at Talladega aren’t too shabby either.
In nine starts at the track, Stenhouse has his 2017 win, along with three top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes, one pole, 37 laps led, and an average finish of 12.1.
With Roush-Yates horsepower under the hood, Stenhouse will just have to keep his nose clean and he should be in the mix when it comes to the win in Sunday’s GEICO 500.