News & Media

Truex still trying to get a foothold in NNS

May 31, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Recent appendectomy won't prevent upcoming opportunity with JGR at Dover

No way a little appendicitis was going to keep Ryan Truex from racing this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

It's been hard enough for Truex to make arrangements to climb into a race car for the Nationwide Series this season. And Dover is a special place to him.

"It's definitely frustrating when you do all you can in good equipment and still can't get the opportunities. But I'm thankful for what I've got now."


"Dover really is one I've had circled on my schedule," said Truex, who underwent surgery to have his appendix removed May 22 and was cleared by doctors Wednesday to race in this Saturday's Five-hour Energy 200. "Last year [in the fall] we ran third the entire race. We ended up going on pit road for our last stop and the caution came out. That kind of messed up my strategy there and we ended up finishing eighth. But I think we can go back there and win this race."

That's something Truex hasn't yet been able to do in the Nationwide Series -- but in his defense, he hasn't had many opportunities. This Saturday will mark only his fifth start of the season.

It's one of six series races Truex is scheduled to run this season for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also ran the season opener at Daytona in a car prepared by Tommy Baldwin Racing and for RAB Racing at Texas.

Truex, 20 and the younger brother of Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr., thought he would be running a full-time Nationwide schedule by now. He certainly seems to have earned his way to that, having won back-to-back K&N Pro Series East championships in 2009 and '10 and faring well in limited Nationwide exposure last season when he ran a total of 17 of the 34 series races for Pastrana Waltrip Racing (11 races) and JGR (the other six).

"I really thought I did enough to earn at least more of a partial schedule," Truex said. "I was even hoping to go into 2012 and run the full schedule, based on what we were able to do last year. I was top-five or top-10 [almost] every race [for JGR] and never wrecked out, never finished worse than [13th].

"It's definitely frustrating when you do all you can in good equipment and still can't get the opportunities. But I'm thankful for what I've got now. I've got a really good sponsor [Grime Boss] behind me, and good people. Hopefully I can make the most of it like I did last year, and be racing full time next year."

Truex pointed out that times are different now than when his older brother started out in the Nationwide Series. Martin ran one Nationwide race in 2001, four in '02 and 10 in '03.

"[In 2004], I think he had 20 races sponsored. About five races in, he won Bristol -- and then things took off from there. And he ended up winning two championships," Ryan Truex said.

The Bristol win led to sponsorship for the rest of that 2004 season for Martin, who won a total of 12 races and back-to-back Nationwide championships in 2004 and '05 before moving onto the Cup Series.

That's the kind of magic Ryan would like to recreate. But he knew this Saturday would be a lost opportunity if his recent appendicitis kept him out of the race car.

"The plan was if I couldn't race at Dover, my brother was going to be in the car. I definitely didn't want that -- because I knew he could go out and win the race," said Ryan, chuckling.

Matchbox 20

Ryan Truex has fared much better for Joe Gibbs Racing than he has in the rest of his NNS starts for all other teams.

Lead-Lap Fin.73
Laps Led10
Avg. Start8.415.4
Avg. Finish9.420.8

Ryan said he appreciates big brother's frequent support and advice -- but this is his ride, not Martin's. So while he likes Martin helping him out, Ryan didn't necessarily want Martin in a car meant for him.

"He's been supportive. He even owned my late model when I raced those," Ryan said of Martin. "He's been at all my Nationwide races, helping me out. It helps me learn faster.

"The thing about Nationwide is that the Cup guys who come down to race in that series really have the edge over guys like me just because of all the experience they have. With my brother, I kind of have that experience, but on the sidelines. He's won championships. He knows what it takes. He's been to all of the tracks. It really helps me when I can go to him and ask something about a track or what kind of car he thinks it's going to take to win a race. It definitely gives me an advantage I wouldn't have otherwise, being a young guy with so little experience."

With more success, Ryan Truex can only hope additional experience of his own will follow. He said he still hopes to run a full-time Nationwide schedule next season.

"That's the goal. I'd love to have more races this year. I think JGR still has some open races -- but it all boils down to how much money can you bring, unfortunately," Truex said. "I know it's only seven races and I've got to go prove myself. At the same time, you can't go out and overdrive your car and end up in the wall. No car owner likes wrecked race cars, and that's something my brother and my dad have really instilled in me my whole career -- that you have to be there at the end of the race if you want to win.

"I think it shows with all the Gibbs races I've had; I haven't wrecked in any of them yet. I've got a good career so far from that standpoint, but I still don't see why we can't go out and also win some races."

He's also experiencing some pretty strong karma after talking with Martin recently.

"My brother told me something cool [the other] night," Ryan said. "We were talking and he said the first time he ran a Nationwide car at Dover, he ran third the entire day like I did last time I was at the track -- and then he came back and won the very next time he went there. Hopefully we can follow in that same tradition and win there this weekend."

As for the appendicitis? He said it's already in his rear-view mirror.

"I'm pretty much 100 percent, other than the fact that my stomach looks a little weird," he said.

Under his firesuit on Saturday, no one will be able to tell.