Quiroga: 'We're in a great position right now'
May 28, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
German Quiroga's third-place ranking in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series puts him squarely in the conversation for championship hopefuls. But Quiroga knows as well as anyone that title talk doesn't heat up until much later in the season.
As the series heads to Dover International Speedway, Quiroga can still claim to be headed in the right direction as the only driver on the circuit with top-10 finishes in the first four races of 2014. While it's still more than five months until the final checkered flag of the year, he hopes the groundwork has been established for season-long contention.
"It's good, for right now," said Quiroga, who turns 34 on Thursday. "To be honest, the season has just begun, just four races. We have to work harder. One of our goals in the beginning of the season was to try to be champions. ... Top-10s, top-fives -- for sure, it's great. I know what we need to be champions. We have the equipment; we have the people, which is the most important thing; we have the sponsors that have supported me very well in Net10 and OtterBox.
"For sure it's one of our goals and we're in a great position right now. We need to keep learning and fighting and trying to be better each race so we can get the most out of each one of them. The more points we can achieve each race, the better we can be when we get closer to Homestead."
Quiroga, in his second full season in the truck series, has been in championship battles before, demonstrating a knack for sealing the deal. Prior to making his first ventures into the Camping World tour, Quiroga enjoyed a three-year run (2009-11) as champion of the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series in his home country.
With his rookie campaign behind him, Quiroga carries seasoning into his sophomore truck season with the Red Horse Racing team. From a communication and experience standpoint, the benefit of returning to many tracks he saw last year for the first time has also played a factor.
"For sure it helps knowing that we're going to be at race track where I've been and we've done well," Quiroga said. "I can relate that to be more specific with my crew chief so we can have a better truck by the end and finish like we want, trying to start finishing in the top five."
Quiroga's first visit to Dover last season had the makings of another top-10 result, until his No. 77 truck's handling soured late, dropping him from eighth to a 13th-place finish in the final 30 laps. His goal this go-around is for a reversal at the Monster Mile, a unique concrete track that still registers a familiar feel.
"We're going to try to fix that in practice so by the end instead of losing spots, we can gain some," Quiroga said. "I really like that track. It fit me well. I guess smaller tracks are more like what I'm used to racing in the past in my country, so I'm looking forward to it. I think it can be one of the first top-fives for us and for sure, I'm excited to go back to Dover."
For championship goals to come full circle, Quiroga says that top-10 finishes will need to transform to top-fives and potential victories over the course of the season. Early indications are that he has found some early chemistry with crew chief Butch Hylton, who moved over to Quiroga's No. 77 Toyota from the No. 17 team of Red Horse stablemate Timothy Peters in the offseason.
The challenge now is to keep the momentum up before title talk reaches its highest point in November.
"I think everybody's on the same page," Quiroga said. "We want to fight for the championship -- I think for now we are good, but we need to improve our results. For sure, we want to be able to start finishing in the top five and contend for a win, so we're working on that. I know everyone on my team is willing to do the same thing, so we're working hard. We’re having a lot of fun and learning as much as we can from each other."