Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is coming off of the best year of his professional career, and the 30-year-old wants to broaden his horizons in 2018.
Stenhouse won the first two races of his career in 2017, and he finished 13th on the year. Now, he told ESPN’s Bob Pockrass that he wants to run in more midget and sprint car races this year. Stenhouse said he and Tim Clausen — the co-owner of the Chili Bowl team he competed with — have already discussed potential races for this summer.
“I plan on running some throughout the summer,” Stenhouse said. “Tim and I were talking about some scheduling. It will be good.
“Christopher (Bell) and Kyle (Larson) run a lot throughout the year. It’s something that I did up until 2013, and Jack [Roush] asked me to kind of stop for a while while we went to Cup. Now I’m like, ‘Well, I’d like to get back and do some running.’ So we’ll see how that goes. Some off-weekends will be filled up now with some dirt racing, which will be fun.”
If Stenhouse continues to deliver in the Cup Series, his team at Roush Fenway Racing likely won’t have a problem with him competing in a different series. But if his production starts to slip in the Cup Series and he isn’t a playoff contender, it wouldn’t be surprising if the team asked him to strictly focus on the Cup Series.
Stenhouse’s high profile relationship with Danica Patrick came to an end after the 2017 season, and he declined to discuss the relationship with Pockrass. Instead, his entire focus is on racing for the upcoming season.
Last year, Stenhouse won restrictor plate races at both Daytona and Talladega, so he said he’ll be more comfortable to start the year at Daytona. It would take the pressure off of him for the most of the year if he could pick up a win in the first race of the season, and he is much more confident heading into this season than he has been in the past.
Stenhouse will look to build on his success from a season ago both in the Cup Series and in midget or sprint car races.