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NASCAR drivers describe 'once in a lifetime experience' on American Ninja Warrior

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ben Kennedy and Ryan Blaney stepped out of their cars and onto the course for season nine.

3 NASCAR drivers want to be American Ninja Warriors

NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ryan Blaney & Ben Kennedy all found out the course is NOTHING like the track!

‎Posted by American Ninja Warrior Nation on‎ יום שני 10 יולי 2017

American Ninja Warrior is a challenge that grabs the attention of many high level athletes. We’ve seen NFL players on the course, Olympians, Harlem Globetrotters, the list goes on.

In season nine, NASCAR drivers had their eyes on the buzzer. Ben Kennedy, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all headed to the course. For Ricky, it was his second season. He had an early fall on the Rolling Log in Indianapolis last year.

We talked to all three drivers about their American Ninja Warrior experience.

The Drivers:

Ben Kennedy: Daytona Qualifiers

What are your thoughts on having the course right here on the door step of Daytona?

“I love it. It's awesome. Daytona is my hometown. I was born and raised here. This track was like my backyard. It's so cool to see American Ninja Warrior here. Being such a big fan of it, seeing the course lit up at night. It was gorgeous. I really think they complimented each other. I really hope we see it in Daytona again.”

Ryan Blaney: Cleveland Qualifiers

Are you feeling any competition against Ricky and Ben?

“There's definitely competition. We're competitive no matter what we do. Whether it's American Ninja Warrior or racing, or playing basketball. So I want to get farther than them. That's my goal.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Indianapolis Qualifiers (season eight), Cleveland Qualifiers (season nine)

@oakleymotorsports got me covered for #nationalsunglassesday

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Why did you decide to come back again?

“I wanted to get revenge on the Rolling Log if it was on my city course. In the back of my mind, I was hoping for a different obstacle, but when it's all said and done, it will be cool to try that same obstacle again. It would feel really good to get past it.” (The Rolling Log was the second obstacle of the Cleveland course.)

How NASCAR drivers train for American Ninja Warrior

Ben Kennedy: “Typical workout, I usually swim, bike or run. I don't spend a lot of time doing upper body stuff. Usually it's six or seven days a week. Then five days a week typically two a days. Then if I'm lucky I'll get a day off. I'll do cardio workouts or cardio and then weight workouts. Usually takes three hours during the day.

I mean, we're in our car for 3 to 4 hours and it's 140-145 degrees in the car. It's hot. We have two layered suits on, shoes, gloves, helmet, all that stuff. We're pulling three g’s of forces in the corners. It's a tough workout.”

Well...... here goes nothing! #NASCARNinja @ninjawarrior #bowtoyoursensei

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Ryan Blaney: “We don't do a lot of upper body training. We don't lift big things up and put them down. Most of the Ninjas, they don't do that either. It's more core stuff and finger strength and stuff like that. We do a lot more core and stamina. I feel like that's big for our sport. I feel like some of that applies. Maybe not all of it. But we have some form of training to kind of crosses paths a little bit with the Ninjas.

I went to a Ninja gym in Thomasville, North Carolina, kind of close to where I grew up. They didn't have a Rolling Log there. That's the one I'm most worried about. Ricky fell on the Rolling Log last year and it looks really tough. So if I make it past that I'll be pretty excited, but I didn't train for that.

There was a vertical wall there. I probably won't get to the vertical wall. But I could do it! I was pretty excited that I was able to try it and do it. Maybe I'll get there, you never know.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: “This season, I really did not worry about it. Last time I went to a few Ninja gyms and felt really good and then almost put too much pressure on myself because I did train and practiced. I'm like, ‘Hm. I'm just going to let it go.’ And see what happens. I think if I go in with, ‘Hey let's have more fun,’ I think I can get past more obstacles.

I feel a lot better (this season). Especially coming in after a win. I feel a lot better.” (Ricky had just taken first at the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway before his run.)

Duane Prokop/NBC

After whipping around the track at 200 MPH, does the American Ninja Warrior course make them nervous?

Ben Kennedy: “It was cool to have it in our backyard. I just think I put more pressure on myself at the end of the day. A lot of anxiety and anticipation, waiting for your turn to go.”

Ryan Blaney: “I wasn't (nervous) on the way here and then we were getting the instructions and going through each obstacle. I started to kind of get nervous. I don't really get nervous very often. We're used to being in front of cameras and crowds and stuff, but I'm sure when I step up and get ready to go that I'm going to get really nervous. I hope I don't. But I know I will.

It's weird when you do different things. You get nervous about it. Especially with a lot of people watching you. Compared to what we do, because we're used to it. I've calmed my nerves down, but I'm sure they're going to ramp up pretty soon.”

Duane Prokop/NBC

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: “I was a lot more nervous than I thought I was going to be (in season eight). I do a lot in front of a lot of people. A lot more people than was at the course. On TV every weekend. I never really feel that nervous. But (racing) it's something I do every day.

Coming to do something that I don't do every day. Man, it was nerve-wracking. Especially seeing the Floating Steps. They look bigger. Farther apart, higher. They just look a lot different when you stand up there. So I was lot more nervous than I thought I was going to be.”

So, how’d it go?

Ben Kennedy: Fell on the second obstacle, the Rolling Pin.

“It surprised me how steep those first steps were. I honestly didn't think they were that bad, looking on the TV. But you get up there and they're pretty steep steps. That surprised me. And the butterflies. The anticipation going into it, it was tough to cope with all that.”

Would you give any words of advice to the drivers coming up in the next couple of cities?

“Good luck! (Laughs) Good luck and stay a little bit lower on that rope to swing and you'll be fine.”

How was the overall experience?

“Awesome. Yeah. Definitely once in a lifetime experience. I loved it. It was a blast.”

Ryan Tuttle/NBC

Ryan Blaney: Fell on the third obstacle, the Razor’s Edge

“It's really neat. It's competition, but it's also TV. It's cool that they've combined all that stuff to where it's not just a TV show. These people are going for a grand prize of a million bucks. It's a big deal. To see the seriousness in everybody. It's not just entertainment. It's a competition. That's been cool to experience, to get to see what the atmosphere is like. I'm excited to walk back out there and see the fans cheering.”

Duane Prokop/NBC

What's your prediction on how far you're going?

“I don't know. I hope I can make it past the Rolling Log. I'm going to sell myself short and say I'm going to fall on the log roll. Because then if I do I'll be like "Alright well I knew I was going to fall on that." But if I make it further I'll be pretty proud.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Fell on the fourth obstacle, Ring Jump

What's your personal prediction for how far you're going?

“Honestly I think that I can make it to the Warped Wall if I get past that Rolling Log. That was the question mark I had last year, but last year I felt like if I got past the Rolling Log I could do the third obstacle, but I wasn't sure about the fourth. Right now I feel pretty good about the rest of it. It's just that same log sitting there. Just looking at me, that I gotta get past.”

Who’s coming back for another season?

Ben Kennedy: “I would love to. I would absolutely love to. I would love to train more and spend more time going to gyms and working on my upper body strength a little bit next time. I think it would be really cool to come back.”

Ryan Blaney: “Oh for sure. I was going to say we'll see how this goes, but I would probably come back no matter what. I would like to keep doing it and trying to get better at it. So I would definitely be in for another shot at it.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: “We'll see how this goes. To a point, I would love to come back and keep trying it. But I know there's a lot of people who are in the Ninja community that want to come on the show. I feel like if I just keep coming back, I'm taking someone’s place that practices all the time. I don't know. We'll see. If it goes really well, then, yeah I would come back.”