Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Daytona Strategy: "The Only Stage That Matters is the Last One"


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. knows that a win is the only thing that will get him into the playoffs.  On Saturday night’s regular season finale, at Daytona International Speedway, there is still one playoff spot yet to be determined.  For drivers who are too far back in the standings to make it in on points alone (like Stenhouse Jr.), winning is the only way to guarantee yourself a spot in the final 16. 


Not only is the race taking place at one of NASCAR’s most chaotic tracks, but the cars will also drive differently than they ever have.  A safety-related change will result in lower horsepower than when the Cup Series last visited Daytona for the 500 back in February.  Stenhouse Jr. said “I think it’s a little safer, a little easier for us to race hard and maybe not make as many mistakes trying to block runs at the last minute.” 


Despite these wildcards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is confident in his #47 Chevrolet team’s chances.  “I know the car’s going to be good, capable of getting the job done.”  His resume at super speedways also speaks for itself.  His average finish at drafting tracks is 3rd best in the Cup Series, 16.75 over 34 races, and his two career Cup Series wins came at Daytona and Talladega in 2017.  


Even with a lot on the line, the regular season finale may not be as chaotic as one might think.  “…it could be less crazy, knowing that a lot of us need to win to make the playoffs.  Stage points do us no good. [...] I could see the race being pretty calm until about 10 to go.”


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is not going to have an easy road to victory lane.  When asked whether any of the drivers who have already clinched a playoff spot might go easy on the drivers trying to race their way in, he said “I don’t think any of us ease up on anyone, no matter what race track it’s at.  All of us want to win.”  However, Ricky believes he has the ability to pull it off, saying “We’re going to try and learn as much as we can, but do it safely, and have a shot there at the end. […] I feel confident in what I can do.”


Stenhouse Jr. will put his confidence to the test Saturday night, as he tries to punch his ticket to the playoffs at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.