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NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. confronts nerves before his run.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a NASCAR driver who competes full time in the Sprint Cup Series. His impressive times have made him hugely popular with race fans. He also happens to be a Ninja Warrior fan. We caught up with him the day before his qualifying run in Indianapolis to see how he was feeling. Here are his lightly edited thoughts.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited - Practice Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

How long have you been a fan of the show?

"I think we dated back to like 2014. You know, I just saw commercials on TV for it and that kind of obstacle course thing has always intrigued me. I've done some charity runs and stuff with obstacles and I was always really fast over the obstacles, I just hated the running in-between. Just watching it on TV and the commercials really got me to want to watch it."

So what made you want to go out there and try the course?

"We had trampolines as kids growing up and I would flip around on everything and jump off my house. I was always doing things of that nature. Swinging on the swing-set by the poles on the top and just messing around. So I always had fun with that.

I threw it out there that I wanted to try it. It started out as me saying I want to try the course, and I think I can do it. Thinking it would be more of like when they're done, let me go try it.

Then it turned into 'Hey let's do the show,' and I said okay and here we are. So it's going to be the most nervous thing I've done outside of a race car. I get nervous for giving speeches and stuff like that, but this is going to be pretty nerve-wracking."

Here you go @nascarcasm_ had to get this out b4 you got one out

A video posted by @stenhousejr on

How did you change up your workouts when you decided to do this?

"I've done a lot more pull-up type stuff. I really wish I would have trained a lot harder. I've been to two different obstacle Ninja gyms and I've done some of the obstacles and I felt like I could do some of them pretty well. There was some that I struggled with.

The finger tip strength that people have that do the show is amazing. And I don't have that. I can hang on bars but when they start doing things with their finger tips I'm like 'Man, these people are so strong with that grip.' It's pretty cool to see how much they can do with their body with the little grips that they have to use."

Is that the type of obstacle that gets you the most nervous? Grip strength?

"Oh man, anything like that. There's people that train for this show that fall on the Quintuple Steps. There's people that fall on those that have been training forever. You’ve got to make sure you're not in too big of a hurry. And make sure you don't overlook anything. Be aware. So it's going to be challenging."

What racing skills do you think are going to come into play?

"You watch the show and there's times when people are looking at an obstacle or they get on an obstacle and they're trying to fight through the grip strength or whatever the issue is. They're like really focused and trying to fight through it.

I feel like our races are three and a half, four hours long, really hot. We have to stay focused and we fight through the heat and I feel like that could be a benefit. Me holding the steering wheel for 3 and a half, four hours is not like hanging off a bar for 3 and a half, four hours. Man, it's going to be crazy."

Who's your favorite Ninja?

"Danica [Patrick, Stenhouse’s girlfriend] and I liked watching when Kacy was running. It was a super neat story to follow. I thought Flip Rodriguez, man he was like flashy and super fast. I think that was pretty cool to see. They just kind of take it and do something just totally crazy and run through it. And do it so fast. So I think that was pretty cool too."

What did your friends and family say when you told them you're going to be on the show?

"My parents were like, 'Man we should have come up there.' I was like, 'Ah, I didn't really want you to come up here.' I kind of told them at the last minute.

I have some other driver friends that are on a golf trip this week. And they're all texting back and forth and I'm like, 'Well I'll be doing this...' and they're like 'Good luck!' They're super excited and hope I do well enough for them to watch it."

Are you feeling competitive with the other drivers here today?

"Oh for sure. At first I didn't know that they were doing that. There's three IndyCar drivers and there's only one Nascar driver. So I feel like they're ganging up on me. I need to come strong and represent for Nascar. We'll see. There's a lot of great competitors here.

The couple gyms that I went to, watching the other competitors. It's terrifying watching how good some of them were. And you're like 'Man, I'm not even close to that good.' But yeah, with the other drivers, we're all super competitive. I've never raced with any of them because they're in a totally different kind of series and car. It'll be fun to go out here. I've talked to a couple of them. We all feel like we're way out of our element and we're all super nervous."

How does this day before American Ninja Warrior feel different than the day before a race for you?

"I would say it feels similar to probably my first Sprint Cup race. I'm really comfortable in our cars now. But my first ever Sprint Cup series race was in 2011, at the Coca-Cola 600. All week you’re like 'Man, I'm ready to go.' But then you're like super nervous and you want to do well. That went okay. We qualified ninth and finished eleventh so that went well. Hopefully this will go just as well."

How are you going to celebrate after you hit the buzzer?

"I feel like when I watch the show there's people that think too far ahead and then don't make it there. I haven't really thought about that part of it. I will say I have done the Warped Wall, so I do know I can do that and I think if I get there, I don't know, I'll just be super happy."