Ricky Stenhouse Jr. doesn’t mind losing No. 17's crew to Carl Edwards

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Series updates Sprint Cup Mile-and-a-half debut: Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the first on a 1.5-mile track for the Gen-6 car. It will give a clue to what the car can do at TMS in April. Rough start: Joe Gibbs Racing had a forgettable Daytona, but Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth bounced back with top-10s last week. Kyle Busch, however, has finishes of only 34th and 23rd. Heavy hitters: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski each have started with two top-5s. Nationwide Better for Kyle: Kyle Busch’s victory last week gave him 41 of Toyota’s 75 Nationwide victories. But Toyota has no wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Camping World Truck Sauter stat: Daytona winner Johnny Sauter has three wins in his past 17 starts. Series off: The series is off until April 6 at Martinsville. IndyCar TMS sponsorship: Firestone added three years to its sponsorship agreement for the IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The new agreement runs through 2015. Season opener: The IndyCar season begins March 24 at St. Petersburg, Fla. NHRA The women: Courtney Force won in Funny Car at Pomona in February. Down under: Top Fuel drivers Larry Dixon and Lee Beard will compete at Willowbank Raceway in Australia on March 29-30. Dixon is NHRA’s second-winningest driver, with 62 victories. By the numbers 290 Laps led for Tony Stewart in the past two Sprint Cup races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They said it “I feel the most for Kyle because purely by circumstance, purely by misfortune, he’s suffered the most amongst all of our drivers in the past couple of years. We likely cost him a shot in The Chase last year.” — David Wilson of Toyota Racing Development, to Speed TV, on the engine problems affecting Kyle Busch and JGR drivers.

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After 70 races, almost two years’ worth, Carl Edwards is a winner again.

That’s good for him.

Good for Roush-Fenway Racing.

Good for Ford.

And, figures Ricky Stenhouse Jr., good for NASCAR.

“We need it for our sport,” Stenhouse said this week during a visit to Texas Motor Speedway to promote the track’s season and the upcoming NRA 500. “He’s a great ambassador for it.”

Edwards is indeed a good ambassador. He’s skilled with the media, is becoming as visibile as Jared in the Subway commercials and is a strong driver — the 2011 Sprint Cup runner-up on a tiebreaker.

So Stenhouse, ahem … understood … when Edwards got to take the crew from the No. 17 car left behind at Roush by Matt Kenseth. Stenhouse got the 17 ride, but not the crew that turned Kenseth into a two-time Daytona 500 champion. Nope. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig and company went to Edwards’ No. 99, and already the results are clear.

“We felt like that was the best situation for us,” Stenhouse said. “Carl needed to get back to winning for them, and I told them whatever’s the best way to do that, we need it for our company. … To get him back winning with Matt’s old crew is great.”

Much of Edwards’ old crew went to Stenhouse, who’s in his first Sprint Cup year after winning back-to-back series titles in Nationwide. But the new crew is no stranger to Stenhouse.

“They’re guys that I knew for a long time,” Stenhouse said. “When I was in ARCA in 2008, I would go and hang out a lot with Carl’s car when he was running the Sprint Cup races, and so I knew all those guys, because those were guys that were with him for a long time. So they believed in what I could do, and they were excited to come and work with me.”

Stenhouse has started the year OK. He was 12th at Daytona and 16th last week at Phoenix. But he is a rookie, and he knows it.

“On the competition side, we still got a lot to learn as a team,” he said. “We’re learning. But this past weekend at Phoenix, I needed to do some things different in practice. That’s what we’re trying to learn each and every week. We’re off to a good start. Definitely have something that we can build on throughout the season.”

Edwards can say the same. And did.

“I know this is probably wrong to admit, but I didn’t really have Phoenix marked on the calendar as the one that we were going to go win the first race,” Edwards said in a conference call Wednesday. “I was looking at Vegas as the race that would be the really good one. So I’m really excited about Vegas. After seeing my pit crew perform at Phoenix, I’m going to Vegas to win this thing this weekend.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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