Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Stenhouse Shrugs Off Criticism, Ready to ‘Put on a Show’ at Talladega

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Leaving the last restrictor plate race at Daytona, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was Public Enemy No. 1 for many drivers after his involvement in some of the multi-car crashes that took place that night.

Despite the criticism that he received following that race, Stenhouse isn’t fazed one bit.

“I don’t really care about the criticism,” said Stenhouse. “We’re all in this business and you get criticized for something all the time. I feel like a lot of fans criticize you. They’re the ones watching in the grandstands and they don’t change the way I race.

“I’m going to go out there and put on a show and try to put our Sunny D Ford in victory lane. That’s really my only concern for our team.”

With the criticism from Daytona not weighing on his shoulders, Stenhouse could definitely be one to watch on Sunday to crash the party for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contenders. Though the driver of the No. 17 car has yet to win this year, he is always a factor in races on the restrictor plate tracks.

Both of his wins in the Cup Series came at Talladega and Daytona last season and he has put himself in position to win at all three of the plate races that have taken place thus far in 2018, though the results may not exactly show it.

Stenhouse was running up near the front when he was swept up in the crash in the Daytona 500, finished in the top-five in the spring race at Talladega, and finished 17th in the fall Daytona race after getting involved in a crash, leading 51 laps along the way.

While he plans on “putting on a show”, Stenhouse noted he would be mindful of the playoff drivers and try not to unnecessarily put an end to their championship hopes.

“Being that it’s a Playoff race, it’s always a little bit different,” Stenhouse added. “You always try and give those Playoff guys a little extra room and be a little more cautious around them. That’s just how it is.

“Since I’ve been in the Cup level, this speedway race is always a little more nerve wracking in the Playoffs. There are things you want to do that you might not do otherwise, just because it’s a Playoff race, so that aspect of things, you’re a little more conservative.”

Stenhouse will have one practice session Saturday to dial in his car before qualifying later in the afternoon. Sunday’s 500 at Talladega is scheduled for 2:00 pm ET on NBC.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.