Ricky Stenhouse 03

NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. signs custom made models made by Matt McNally during a fan meet and greet at Fastenal’s Customer Experience Center on Service Drive in Winona.

Chuck Miller, Winona Daily News

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was busy flying around Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, but his fast-paced life didn’t stop there as he flew to Winona for a few hours on Monday for a pit stop of sorts with his main sponsor — Fastenal. Stenhouse was at the Fastenal Customer Experience Center to sign autographs for fans.

Stenhouse said that it is fun making the trip up to Winona and having the opportunity to sign autographs for race fans in the area.

“It’s cool that they got the doors open today and for anybody to come in,” Stenhouse said. “It’s always fun.”

It has been a good season so far for Stenhouse, who is currently in 11th place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings and competing in the playoffs.

“Season’s been good,” Stenhouse said. “We’ve been up and down a little bit, but I think it’s been by far our best year yet. Obviously getting two wins helped us get into the playoffs. We made it out of the first round of the playoffs and working on getting out of the second round, and on to the third round of the playoffs.

“We’ve had some ups and downs like I said, but I think overall it’s been a positive year and looking forward to continuing. We’ve got five races left, so looking to finish strong.”

Back in May, Stenhouse picked up his first win of the season at Talladega. And in July he picked up his second win of the season at Daytona. Stenhouse was happy to finally get those wins.

“It felt really good to finally get them out of the way,” Stenhouse said. “It’s been one of the tough things to do ... is to get my first win.”

Stenhouse brought his two trophies that he won at Talladega and Daytona to Winona, and was hoping to bring a third trophy with him after Sunday’s race. However, Sunday’s race did not end like Stenhouse had hoped for.

“I felt like we had a really fast car,” Stenhouse said. “I thought we were going to bring a new trophy up here to Winona there for a while. Just got caught up in a late wreck. And then after that there was a lot of wrecks. It’s part of speedway racing. Sometimes you get lucky and miss them. Sometimes you don’t.”

Despite the late wreck Sunday, Stenhouse is still competing in the playoffs and has enjoyed every race competing to gain ground in the standings.

Stenhouse said it’s been a lot of fun competing in the Chase, but also said the first round was a little bit stressful considering this was his first time.

“I think it’s been really fun,” Stenhouse said. “It was a challenge to get past the first round but we did it. I thought we were in a good position to get out of the second round, but we gotta make up a lot of ground this weekend in Kansas.”

With five races to go, Stenhouse is looking forward to finishing the season strong.

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