Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has a new favorite ride … well, next to his Sprint Cup car, that is

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You know, if this whole NASCAR thing doesn’t work out for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., he can always try his luck at the riding lawnmower racing circuit.

Just kidding, Ricky.

But Stenhouse is featured in a unique story on GolfIndustry.com, talking about his newly purchased Dixie Chopper XCaliber Twin riding mower – rather appropriately named since the Mississippi native hails from deep in Dixie – that he likes to drive, cut grass and relieve some of the stress of the Sprint Cup Series, all at the same time.

This baby has some power to it, too – although its 54 horsepower pales in comparison to the 800-plus horsies Stenhouse has in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.

As the story said, “The XCaliber Twin delivers industry-leading power that slices through even the thickest grass with ease.”

How much does Stenhouse love his new ride?

“When the mower first arrived, I jumped right on and cut until dark (around his Concord, N.C. estate),” Stenhouse told the web site. “I try and get out here once a week and mow as much as I can.

“At first I was going to get a tractor with a rotary attachment and they asked me, ‘What size, five foot, six foot?’ ” Stenhouse said. “I said I might as well get an XCaliber, it’s more than six feet across and it mows way faster than a tractor.”

Interestingly enough, while the story mentions that the 26-year-old Stenhouse as a two-time Nationwide Series champion and Sprint Cup Rookie of the year last season, not one word was mentioned about his No. 1 love, fellow driver Danica Patrick.

But Stenhouse’s new ride is also already near and dear to his heart, as well.

“I love the fact that I don’t have to slow the mower down at all,” Stenhouse said. “And the unit’s maneuverability allows me to easily mow between fence posts, which really cuts down on the weed eating.”

Who knows, Danica may start to get a little jealous after hearing of Ricky’s upgrade plans for his new ride.

“On pit road at Darlington, a couple of the drivers came down and asked me about the mower, just amazed at how much horsepower it has,” Stenhouse said. “But I’m probably the only driver mowing his own lawn. I love it so much I’m going to get a light kit for the machine so I can mow at night.”

Might want to keep a sleeping bag handy out in the mower shed, just in case, Ricky.

Click here to read the whole story and see a photo of Stenhouse’s new toy.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne