On the Track with Josh Bilicki (June 2018)

Guest columnist/racing analyst Josh Bilicki remains optimistic about his team's steady progress. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Guest columnist/racing analyst Josh Bilicki remains optimistic about his team’s steady progress. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/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, Bilicki reflects on the growth of his No. 45 team, celebrating his 23rd birthday, the purpose of the track bar adjuster, and much more

Rob Tiongson : In the past few months, you and your No. 45 Prevagen JP Motorsports Toyota team have reeled off four top-30 finishes, including a 25th at Charlotte.  Given the uphill battle that you and your team tackle each weekend, how encouraged are you with the strides made as we close in on the halfway point of this season?

Bilicki expressed confidence with the growth of his No. 45 team, citing their solid performance with the unique aero package. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Bilicki expressed confidence with the growth of his No. 45 team, citing their solid performance with the unique aero package. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Josh Bilicki : It’s very encouraging to see the progress we are making.  We started from basically just four months ago and have come a long way.  What’s really holding us back at this point is the fact that we are still using steel body cars while most of our competitors are running the more aerodynamic and lighter composite bodies.

I’m working hard every day to secure enough sponsorship so that we can purchase composite bodies and be more competitive. I full expect to run top 25 to top 20 by the end of the season!

RT : Last weekend was your first opportunity with racing in the aero configuration that we saw during the Xfinity race last year at Indianapolis.  Did it live up to expectations to promote closer racing or is there still room for improvement?

JB : The new aero package certainly helped close the gap between lower budget teams and top-tier teams, especially at Michigan, but at the same time, it took away some of the drivability from these cars.  NASCAR took away about 200 horsepower by adding a restrictor and added more front and rear downforce.

It did not work as well at Pocono, but at Michigan, almost everyone finished on the lead lap. We even finished stage two in 11th!  I would like to run this aero package at a 1.5 mile track, but maybe experiment with the horsepower and take away the restrictor so that we have normal horsepower.  

RT : Recently, you celebrated your 23rd birthday.  How’d you enjoy your big day and despite being young, do you sometimes feel like you’ve grown up a lot faster given your journey in motorsports?

Humble and appreciative, Bilicki cherishes his opportunity in racing. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Humble and appreciative, Bilicki cherishes his opportunity in racing. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

JB : To be honest, I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthdays.  My birthday fell on a Sunday and I had spent all of Saturday night driving home from Pocono, so I just spent the day relaxing.  I do feel like my journey through motorsports has forced me to grow up much quicker, especially the business side of the sport. I began to work in a warehouse when I was only 11 years old to help fund my racing career, and by the time I was 15-16, I began to peruse sponsors to take my racing career to the next level.

Imagine a 16-year-old cold-calling a successful business owner and asking him if he wanted to sponsor a racecar. Well, that was me! I would also work on my go-karts or racecar instead of going to events with my friends. I even missed my High School graduation for a race in Ohio! Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

RT : We’re heading into the summer months where conditions will be undoubtedly warmer and more humid.  With the weather becoming hotter, how do you plan to prepare for these conditions to avoid heat exhaustion and that “falling off the seat” feeling in the car?

JB : I focus primarily on cardio.  I ride my road bike a lot and also really like to jump rope.  It’s important to get your heart rate up and keep it there because while you’re racing, your heart rate is always high.  I begin drinking a lot of water and Pedialyte several days before the race weekend so that I am properly hydrated. I have been dehydrated and had heat-exhaustion before in a racecar and it’s no fun!

RT : Last year, you competed in the SCCA June Sprints at Road America during the Michigan race weekend.  Any plans to return for this year’s race during Father’s Day weekend?

JB : I would absolutely love to race the June Sprints this year, but the schedule changed a bit this year and we will be racing in Iowa on Sunday that same weekend.  Last year, we raced at Michigan on Saturday and we were able to drive to Road America after the XFINITY race and race on Sunday. I like to be in the seat as much as possible so maybe we will find another race weekend to replace that one!

RT : Your father has been and continues to be a big part of your path into the world of racing.  What’s some of your fondest memories with him at the track and how neat is it to share your experiences with him?

For a racer who grew up with a road racing background, Bilicki works on adapting to superspeedway racing. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

For a racer who grew up with a road racing background, Bilicki works on adapting to superspeedway racing. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

JB : I have a lot of great memories with my dad at the track.  I really enjoyed the time we spent together working on racecars and being at the racetrack.  When we raced road courses, we would set up an air mattress in the trailer and stay at the track.  Being at the racetrack at night, with our racecar sitting under the canopy, and just hanging out outside were some of the best memories.   

RT : For this month’s technical term, let’s talk about the track bar adjuster.  In layman terms, what’s this component of the car do to help you and others during the races?

JB : The track bar adjuster allows the team or driver to quickly raise or lower the track bar in just a few seconds.  The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series cars have a switch in the car that lets you adjust the track bar by hitting an electronic switch, while the XFINITY Series cars need to be manually adjusted by the crew by inserting a ratchet in the adjustment slot, located in the rear window. This adjustment allows us to change the handling of the car, which is important when the track changes due to temperature or grip during the race weekend.

RT : Did you play racing video games when you were growing up and if so, which were your go to games on a regular gaming console or on the computer?

Whether it's sim racing or real life competition, Bilicki loves motorsports. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Whether it’s sim racing or real life competition, Bilicki loves motorsports. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

JB :  Gran Turismo was definitely my go to racing video game when I was young.  I remember playing all of the Gran Turismo games, from the first one on PlayStation 1 to the most recent on PlayStation 4.  Sometimes, I wish I could go back and play Gran Turismo 1 on PS1!

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

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

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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