DOVER, Del. – Roush Fenway Racing driver Colin Braun has already had his full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series ride yanked out from under him. Should fellow rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. worry?
Yes, Stenhouse Jr. said this weekend. He has worried. And he still worries.
"I would say the pressure’s a little more than what it was at the beginning of the season," Stenhouse Jr. said. "Obviously, there’s no room for any races like we’ve had. We’ve got to get it turned around, and we’ve got to get on a roll here and start finishing these races."
Stenhouse Jr. and Braun were both supposed to run the full Nationwide schedule this year, though Braun was yanked out of the No. 16 Ford two races ago. He’s back for Dover this weekend, but his full-time ride is gone.
Stenhouse Jr., the less experienced of the two drivers, remains full time despite a slow start to the 2010 season that includes eight finishes of 25th or worse in the first 10 races. He says he’s "definitely gone through some bumps" this year.
"I didn’t think we can get any worse than what we have been," Stenhouse Jr. said. "So there’s definitely only one way to go. The whole team’s rallied around me after Darlington. I almost just wanted to give up. But the guys are real supportive. They want to do good, they know we can do good and finish well. We’ve just got to get it."
Stenhouse Jr. said he’ll simply press forward, trying to keep learning the cars and tracks while improving his driving. The pressure can be intense sometimes, he admitted, though a golf game before Dover this week helped.
"It’s tough. Just being in the shop with our CitiFinancial guys helps," Stenhouse Jr. said. "They’re supportive of me. (Team co-owner) Jack (Roush) gets pretty critical in our meetings. He definitely wants us to perform – this sport is about performing. It’s tough to deal with it."
Stenhouse Jr. said he feels like the No. 6 Ford has had some speed the last few races, better than start of season. Crew chief Mike Kelley replaced Ben Leslie during the year, and Stenhouse Jr. believes that’s helped pick up the pace.
Meanwhile, Stenhouse Jr. said he still has faith in Roush.
"Jack’s definitely been a great owner for me and a great person to drive for," Stenhouse Jr. said. "The way things have been going, for him to still be supportive, I would say that says a lot for Jack Roush and what he wants to do for my future here at Roush Fenway. I just hope we can get it turned it around so it makes it a little easier on everybody that’s involved. I think we will."