Ricky Stenhouse Jr talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr during practice for the 2016 Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Thinks That Ricky Stenhouse Is Experiencing His "Peak Years" as a NASCAR Driver

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has never really moved the needle as a NASCAR driver. While the 35-year-old Olive Branch, Mississippi native has competed full-time in the Cup Series since 2013, he's never finished better than 13th in the points standings (he typically lands somewhere in the 20s) and only has three Cup wins. When he won the 2023 Daytona 500, it was almost a reintroduction of sorts for Ricky to the NASCAR fanbase. As he celebrated in Victory Lane, most fans probably thought, "oh yeah, I forgot Ricky was still doing this."

Despite Stenhouse's fairly unremarkable resume, he's always been looked at as a driver who's made the most out of what he has. Having spent his first seven seasons with Roush Fenway Racing, and now as the driver of the No. 47 Chevy at JTG Daugherty Racing (where he's been since 2020), Stenhouse hasn't found himself having to work a little bit harder than drivers from more lucrative and established teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. He's had to claw and scrape for all that he's accomplished throughout his career. And, as you can see from the below Twitter exchange between NASCAR history buff Seth Sharp and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ricky's grit and perseverance has not gone unnoticed.

"I've always felt Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a guy who could absolutely thrive in a top Cup ride, especially now at this point of his career," Sharp wrote. "Feel like he's had to try to overdrive the cars he's been in. I'm normally a stat based opinion guy but this one is just my gut talking."

Earnhardt echoed Sharp's sentiments, tweeting, "At age 35, he is hitting those peak years where a drivers has it all. The nerve, determination, experience, wisdom."

Now, Stenhouse was fresh on Earnhardt's mind because he had just appeared on an episode of The Dale Jr. Download, which you can check out in its entirety here. The two Juniors discussed everything from Ricky's recent Daytona 500 win to his early beginnings in Mississippi and working on his father's sprint car team to his time with Roush Fenway Racing. You can tell that the respect between these two is mutual. And, even though Ricky is seemingly on the back half of his career, Earnhardt truly believes that his best years as a driver are likely ahead of him.

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