On Track with Josh Bilicki (March 2018)

Josh Bilicki returns not only for his monthly blog, but with full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series effort! (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Josh Bilicki returns to his monthly blog as full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series effort! (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Each month, NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Josh Bilicki will provide his insights on his recent racing efforts. In addition, the Menomonee Falls, WI native will answer some of NASCAR’s quirkier vocabulary.

For this month’s blog entry, Bilicki talks about his new full-time opportunity, his expectations, fan interaction, and his support system at the track, from day one to the present with past and current teammates.

Rob Tiongson :  Firstly, congrats again on earning your first full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series ride with the No. 45 JP Motorsports team.  How excited are you with this opportunity and what’s some of your goals for the season as you work with new teammate Stephen Leicht?

Josh Bilicki :  I can’t even put into words how excited I am for this entire 2018 NASCAR season.  It’s been a dream and a goal of mine to compete at this level since I was very young, so to see it all come together is amazing.  I can’t thank Prevagen enough for coming onboard as a primary sponsor for the full season.

Our goals for the season are to get better every race and eventually break the top 20 mark.  It’s been a tough start to the season, I’m not going to lie, but Las Vegas was the race we needed to have both cars finish top 30.  Stephen has been a great teammate. He’s been to every track, so I can really lean on him when I come to a new track for the first time and have questions.  That helps a lot!

RT :  With the experiences you’ve gained since 2016, primarily with the oval track races you competed in last year in Xfinity and Cup, what’s some of the takeaways from those events that you look to implement in 2018?

Above all, Bilicki has taken on the challenges of NASCAR with determination. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Above all, Bilicki has taken on the challenges of NASCAR with determination. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

JB :  Going from road course racing to NASCAR was challenging because I had almost no prior circle track experience.  Honestly, the walls were really intimidating at first. In road course racing, you mostly have grass and sand traps next to the track in case you go off.

In NASCAR, there’s just a wall, so there is no “cushion zone” if you run too wide coming off a corner. My biggest challenge at first was just getting comfortable driving these tracks.  I definitely puckered up a bit my first couple of times driving into the turns at 185-190 mph and not using any brakes, but that’s just all part of the learning curve.

Now, I can focus on driving in deeper and harder, or depending the track, focus on driving in softer and getting a better run out of the corner.  Every track is different and unique, and I really enjoy learning these new tracks.

RT :  I imagine that you’re looking forward to “Road Course August” and competing in the first “roval” stock car race at Charlotte. Would you say those races are the ones that you’re circling in your calendar with contending for race wins?

JB :  Definitely.  We were really strong last year when I the three road courses.  We were racing off of very little sponsorship that I brought, so we did not have the proper number of new tires. I’m really hoping to secure a tire sponsor for the remainder of the season so that we can be more competitive at all tracks, but primarily have a shot at the win at the road courses.

RT :  NASCAR enters its 70th season with a paradigm shift in terms of its talents.  How critical is it for you and your fellow racers to connect with fans at the track and on social media?

JB :  In this day and age, I feel that this is just as important as driving the car itself.  Racing is a business, and at my level, most of the time you are required to bring sponsorship to the table if you want to race.

The more fans and excitement you can generate on social media and at the track, the better your chances are with securing sponsorship.  Plus, who doesn’t love to make a fans day by sending them a tweet or singing an autograph at the track!?

RT :  You shared some photos of you and your dad at the track from 2003 to the present which I found to be touching and nice. What’s some of the best advice you’ve learned from your dad with your racing careers?

All suited up with some place to go at over 180 mph. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

All suited up with some place to go at over 180 mph. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

JB :  My father and I have been traveling to races since I was a new-born.  He bought me a go-kart at age 4 ½ and we have been on the road racing ever since.   We always worked on our own go-karts or race cars, which taught me a lot. He showed me everything he knew about racing, and I fell in love with the sport at a very young age.

As we made the transition from karts to full size cars and eventually to pro racing, we stopped working on our own cars, as the professional race teams took care of that instead.  From there, he helped me make many business decisions off the race track.

From decisions regarding sponsorship, transitioning from sportscar racing to NASCAR, who to trust, who not to trust, you name it – I’ve probably asked him.  He’s been very very helpful and I’m lucky to have a father who cares so much.

RT :  Who are some racers that you’ve gotten to know better and hung out with away from the track in the past few years?

JB :  I’ve gotten to know a lot of racers in the garage and have talked to almost every driver in the Cup or Xfinity Series.  A few drivers that really stand out that I don’t believe get enough credit are BJ McLeod, Timmy Hill, and my teammate Stephen Leicht.

I can go to any of these three drivers at any time and ask for advice, and they will gladly help me. There is a lot of camaraderie in the sport that the cameras don’t cover, and that’s one of the reasons I love NASCAR.

RT :  The West Coast Swing is in full effect, with stops at Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Fontana. Which of these tracks are you looking forward to and which seems to be the most challenging at first glance?

Ultimately, a 28th place finish is a building block race for Josh Bilicki. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

Ultimately, a 28th place finish is a building block race for Josh Bilicki. (Photo Credit: Jose L. Acero Jr/TPF)

JB :  We are just coming off a 28th place finish at Las Vegas, which was a fun track.  However, I’m really looking forward to Phoenix. I made my NASCAR oval debut here in 2016 and have learned a lot since then.  I’m anxious to get back to the track and apply everything I’ve learned. I think we will be pretty competitive there!

Editor’s Notes  

Thanks to Josh Bilicki for taking the time for his monthly blog on The Podium Finish!  Be sure to check out TPF for next month’s edition of “On the Track With Josh Bilicki!”  In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Josh, “Follow” him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, and “Visit” his official website!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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