On the Track with Josh Bilicki (April 2018)

No matter how a race goes, Josh Bilicki always makes time with race fans of all ages.

No matter how a race goes, Josh Bilicki always makes time with race fans of all ages.

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 provides his candid thoughts on his season to date, short track racing, and his take on the team valance versus team splitter debate.

Rob Tiongson :  We’ve seen some good progress from your No. 45 Prevagen Toyota Camry team since the West Coast Swing, specifically with your solid 24th last weekend at Texas.  Fighting an uphill battle, how gratifying is it for you and JP Motorsports to see the kind of gains you’ve made each week?

Bilicki and his No. 45 team have gone through some growing pains which they're working ardently to get through.

Bilicki and his No. 45 team have gone through some growing pains which they’re working ardently to get through.

Josh Bilicki :  It’s no secret that the beginning of the season was a bit of a struggle for us, however we have made some very big gains in the past two weeks. My new crew chief, Terry Elmore, has played a major role in the gains we’ve made and I’m thankful to have his as a part of our No. 45 team.

Running a professional race team is no different than running a business. You need the right talent working with you in order to be successful. We have a ways to go yet, but everyone is cooperating now and that’s a major step in the right direction.

RT :  You’re gracing the cover of NASCAR Pole Position magazine for Bristol.  How cool and humbling is it to see your story of your career and racing efforts shared on a respectable outlet for race fans at the track?

JB :  It’s really cool to be on the cover in NASCAR Pole Position magazine! It’s going to bring a lot of attention and new fans to our awesome sponsors, the team, and myself. At the same time, I feel it’s important for Pole Position to highlight and feature new drivers like myself.

Although we aren’t in top-tier equipment right now, drivers like Tommy Joe Martins, Joey Gase, Spencer Boyd, Timmy Hill, and myself are all part of the new face of NASCAR. We need to make our presence known! Being feature on the cover of this magazine will certainly help bring attention to drivers at my level.

RT :  As a racer in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, how’s it like in terms of the camaraderie and rapport with your peers versus sports car racing?

Through it all, Bilicki respects his competitors on and off the track.

Through it all, Bilicki respects his competitors on and off the track.

JB :  I would say it’s about the same. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to approach several very well known drivers and ask for advice.

One of the drivers I respect the most is Kyle Larson. He had an engine change in his car last season when I raced the #51 at New Hampshire in the Cup Series and he started near the back of the grid with me. He was very open and gave me several tips to driving the track.  He understood we are in completely different equipment and I think that most drivers do understand that.

It’s equally important that we show those drivers respect while we are on track racing. If we are several laps down, there is no need to race a car on the lead lap and hurt the performance of his race. I feel that if you show that respect to our peers, they will respect you.

RT :  This month features some short tracks like Bristol and Richmond.  What’s your take on racing on these circuits and how have you prepared for these venues in terms of simulation time?

JB :  Yes, I’m very much looking forward to this month! I have not been to Bristol or Richmond, so both will be learning experiences. However, both are considered “drivers tracks”, opposed to 1.5-mile tracks where the equipment you are in makes a major difference.

I’m hoping that I can pick the tracks up quickly and have a good showing at both races. I’ve watched countless hours of YouTube videos, from on-board videos to past season races. I’ve also driven hundreds of laps at each track on iRacing, so I am hoping that helps!

RT :  Given the grind of the schedule, which stops are you looking most forward to visiting, besides the track, in terms of the attractions or places to visit during any free time?

JB :  I’m really looking forward to Bristol and Richmond. It’s a gorgeous area, in the mountains. I’ve raced at nearby Virginia International Raceway and there are plenty of scenic routes to take! Of course, I’m also looking forward to racing in my home state in August, Road America!

RT :  I’ve got to ask you now that you’ve had quality seat time in the ovals.  Are you team splitter or team valance with stock cars?

A top-25 finish at Texas gave more reasons for Bilicki to smile.

A top-25 finish at Texas gave more reasons for Bilicki to smile.

JB :  I enjoy the aero the cars are producing right now. It’s not as much as it used to be, which puts the driving back in the drivers hands.

RT :  Recently, Bobby Labonte announced his intentions to race in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.  How big is this for race fans in Europe to see a Cup and Xfinity Series champion race in a rather new division for the sport across the Atlantic?

JB :  I think that’s huge! It’s going to bring many new eyes to NASCAR, and also showcase some great talent if Europe. NASCAR is looking to bring a more diverse field of drivers to the three major series, so I feel this will help.

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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