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Malsam looking for consistency with steady ride

July 06, 2012, Bill Kimm, NASCAR.com



Malsam looking for consistency with steady ride

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- When you're 23 years old, you have the whole world in front of you. You feel invincible, like you can conquer the world. At 23, Tayler Malsam has seen more ups and downs than most people his age and it has brought with it a maturity, and cautiousness, that makes him thankful while he pursues his dream in NASCAR.

"You just don't take anything for granted; when you're here you have to be happy," Malsam said following Subway Jalapeno 250 practice at Daytona International Speedway. "Whether you're running 25th or running first -- I've learned this thing can be taken away from me in a heartbeat and that's why I just love every moment I'm here."

"I know you just got to be there at the end, that's the biggest thing here. We've had some bad luck the last few weeks but hopefully we can get another good finish here."

--TAYLER MALSAM

The Seattle native has had not one, not two, but three national series rides disappear since his debut at Bristol in 2008. He finished 36th in that race due to a wreck but it was enough to catch the eye of Bill Davis, who announced later that year Malsam would run the No. 24 in the Camping World Truck Series in 2009.

But that would never come to fruition as Bill Davis Racing closed up shop before the '09 season. Malsam was fortunate, though, that former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss was starting up a race team and tabbed Malsam to drive the No. 81 Toyota in the Truck Series for the start-up organization.

Malsam showed what he was capable of with 10 top-10s, a fifth-place finish at Gateway and a final ranking of 12th in the Truck points standings. After that successful season, Malsam departed Randy Moss Motorsports for another start-up organization in the Truck Series -- Kyle Busch Motorsports.

He spent the first seven races of 2010 in the No. 56 KBM Toyota, but sponsorship woes plagued the team from the beginning and Malsam left in June and moved up to the Nationwide Series, driving for Braun Racing. Shortly after joining Braun Racing, team owner Todd Braun sold the team to Steve Turner and there was no room for Malsam in the Turner Motorsports organization.

Malsam returned to Randy Moss Motorsports and the Truck Series to finish up the 2010 season, and was scheduled to run the No. 25 for RMM in 2011, but the team dissolved and Malsam was again left without a ride.

"It was tough. I learned a lot," Malsam said. "I met a lot of new people and had a lot of different crew chiefs."

Things grew tougher for Malsam as he went without a national series start in 2011. But this season, Malsam got a new start. He signed with Mark Smith to drive the No. 19 TriStar Motorsports Toyota in the Nationwide Series. And while it's not one of the top-tier teams, Malsam is very thankful for the opportunity.

"I'm very fortunate to be in the situation I am now with [crew chief] Eddie [Pardue] and these TriStar guys. We are having a lot of fun this year," Malsam said. "We aren't running where we want to but we don't have the funds we need to have to run good. I'm happy but at the same time, we are trying to find money so we can run where we know we are capable of running."

The season started out wonderfully for Malsam, as he finished a Nationwide-career-high sixth in the opener at Daytona. It was an eye-opener for him and the team, as it showed very early what was possible.

"It was definitely unexpected," Malsam said. "We didn't think we were going to run that good and to run that good was awesome. It got us a good jump on the points -- it was a good confidence booster."

The No. 19 team hasn't been able to score another top-10, but that doesn't mean strides aren't being made. The team has finished 20th or better six times since Daytona and despite some bad luck recently, Malsam refuses to look at the glass as half-empty.

"We got a new car, a new body on this car so hopefully it runs as good as the last one [at Daytona]," Malsam said. "I don't know what to expect. I know you just got to be there at the end, that's the biggest thing here. We've had some bad luck the last few weeks but hopefully we can get another good finish here."

At such a young age, Malsam has seen the highs and lows of being a NASCAR driver. There was a time early on he was ready to go back to sprint cars and avoid all the drama of national series stock-car racing. But he didn't. Despite numerous downfalls, Malsam remains positive. Sure, he expects results. But he knows it's a process ... one he hopes to continue with TriStar for the foreseeable future.

"I think we can run top 10, I think its possible -- we just have to stay out of trouble and keep building on every weekend and keep getting better and better," Malsam said. "There aren't really any goals [for the season], just to finish races right now. We just have bad luck it seems everywhere we go -- especially coming to these places, it's hard to finish. Hopefully we'll get more money and more sponsorship as the year goes on and build on our program for next year."