Tried and Ryan Truex (June 2018 Edition)

Ready, set, go! Ryan Truex joins The Podium Finish for his new monthly blog. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Ready, set, go! Ryan Truex joins The Podium Finish for his new monthly blog. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

As Ryan Truex knows, it takes a total team effort to win races and battle for championships.  The 26-year-old Mayetta, NJ native has worked hard to find his home in the competitive world of NASCAR.

Popular, witty, competitive, and knowledgeable, Truex joins us each month to discuss his thoughts with his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro team, contending for the NASCAR XFINITY Series title, and random topics.  In a way, it’s our getting to know you segment of this rising stock car star.

This month, get Truex’s thoughts on his recent performances, the aerodynamic package introduced last year at Indianapolis, and a go to TV show.  Suffice to say, maybe NASCAR has a Jim Halpert after all.  For now, this blog is “Tried and Ryan Truex!”

Rob Tiongson :  Since we last talked, you and the No. 11 team welcomed a new sponsor in Phantom Fireworks.  How exciting is it to have them on board your car through the July race at Daytona and do you plan to buy some fireworks from them for the Fourth of July?

Recently, Truex and his team welcomed new sponsor Phantom Fireworks to the racing world. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Recently, Truex and his team welcomed new sponsor Phantom Fireworks to the racing world. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Ryan Truex :  It’s been awesome.  The guys at Kaulig Racing and Kaulig Media, Matt’s company up in Ohio, actually put this deal together.  Phantom is an Ohio-based company, so it was a perfect fit for this team.

They’re able to put together a deal for six races.  It’s a new sponsor for the sport which is really cool.  It’s been awesome so far.  Thankfully, we’ve had two top-10s with them, so it’s been good luck for sure.  It’s been awesome and I’m for sure getting fireworks from them, without a doubt.

Tiongson :  I know a lot of people like the car and it’s a unique color given that it’s purple.  Do you sometimes look at it and think, it’s Prince on the racetrack?

Truex :  (chuckles) Yea, you can’t miss it, that’s for sure.

Tiongson :  I was going to say, if the rain fell and you were in first at Charlotte, and the race was declared official, I would’ve made the headline, “Purple rain at Charlotte for Truex.”

Truex :  That’s a good one!

Tiongson :  Sometimes, I can think of good ones like that!  Last weekend at Pocono, it was your first-time racing in the aero package that was used last year at Indy.  What was your overall impression with it?  Do you feel it worked or is there some room for improvement in terms of implementing it at Pocono or other tracks?

Truex scored another top-10, this time at Pocono, with the unique aero package first used at Indy last year. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex scored another top-10, this time at Pocono, with the unique aero package first used at Indy last year. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex :  I think it was different from what everybody expected especially after watching the All-Star Race.  I think the level of grip and the way the corners are so different at Pocono and the amount of speed that you carry down the straightaway, even with that package, it seemed like we had to lift a lot more than any of us expected.  Once you lift and break that momentum, it kinda defeats the purpose of the package.  It seemed like you could get runs on people, but it wasn’t as big as I thought it would be.

It was typical Pocono where it got spread out. And it got tough to pass unless you had another car behind you and pushing you.  It was different for sure.  I don’t really know what the answer is there just because Pocono is so unique.

This weekend at Michigan will be a lot more like the All-Star Race in terms of how the race plays out, how we’re able to pass, and run side by side through the corners and all that.  Michigan is so much wider and the corners are so long.  We’ll have so much downforce, grip, and drag that I don’t think we’ll be lifting at all there.  We’ll know a lot more for sure after Michigan.

Tiongson :  The XFINITY Series heads to Michigan, Iowa, and Chicago this month.  Which of these tracks do you feel poses the biggest challenge for drivers in terms of driveability and on track strategy?

Truex :  I think Michigan is going to be tough because it’s such a huge unknown.  Like I’ve said, we all expect to be going there and be wide open and be more like a true restrictor plate race.  Until we get there, we won’t really know.  That’s going to be tough.  Fuel strategy might come into play and tire wear might not be important.  You might be able to take a chance and take two tires or no tires or stretch a fuel run or something like that.  There’s definitely a lot of unknowns going into that race.

Iowa and Chicago are both pretty tough tracks.  Iowa is a short track but it races like a bigger track.  Momentum is really important there.  Over the past few years, it’s really gotten bumpy there.  It’s really key to get your car working through the bumps and be able to move around the track a lot.  As the track’s worn out, it’s definitely widened out and you can run from the top to the bottom.  Getting a good balance throughout a run there and being good on the bumps will be important.

Same with Chicago – it’s also getting worn out and bumpy.  It’s another track that’s really tough to get around and make speed through a run.  It’s definitely going to be three challenging races in a row, that’s for sure.

Tiongson :  Not that anyone noticed but you and your brother Martin are sporting very workman like beards this season.  Who wears it best and if you make the playoffs, are we going to see you sport a lumberjack beard?

Maybe Truex appreciates the effort with his beard. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Maybe Truex appreciates the effort with his beard. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex :  (laughs) I’m going to do my best.  I’m trying!  It’s not as quite as full as Martin’s but it’s getting there.  It’s taken years of commitment to get to this point so hopefully it’ll keep filling out.  I’m hoping by Homestead, I’ll still have it.  If I look like a lumberjack by Homestead, it’ll mean we’ve made it to the final four so that’s the goal for sure.

Tiongson :  That’ll be awesome for your “Go Ryan” t-shirts.  Can you imagine an updated shirt with your silhouette with your beard?

Truex :  That’ll be perfect.

Tiongson :  Well let’s just say you wear it best, even though Martin got the win last Sunday at Pocono.  We’ll call it, “Ryan, 1, Martin, 0.”

Truex :  He got the win on Sunday so I’ll take the beard win.

Tiongson :  Let’s make you turn into a bit like Larry McReynolds and talk about the carbon fiber bodies for the Xfinity cars.  What’s some of the benefits for teams to utilize these types of bodies versus what was used in the past?

Truex :  Well, it’s helped with costs a little bit.  In the past, with the steel bodies, there was so much work just to get them built.  Really, there was a lot of little things that you could do on those bodies to manipulate them, find downforce, and decrease drag.

With these bodies, basically being the same pieces for everyone, has evened up the playing field a little bit as far as aerodynamics go body wise.  Obviously, the best teams are still going to be the best and still find those little tweaks, gray areas, and do all those little things.  I felt like this body has helped with that.

There’s measure they’ve put in place with the honeycomb pattern in certain spots of the body that has prevented people from getting too crazy with manipulating them.  It’s been good.

It’s not much of a change feel wise as you’d think.  They have a little bit less downforce than the steel bodies do.  I think it’s because of all the seams where the body parts come together or bolt together.  Besides from that, there hasn’t been a big difference, feel wise, I think.

Tiongson :  It’s a good thing that it’s helped to control costs to increase the parity of competition and overall, with the way NASCAR has the damage clock rule and not being able to use composite parts, it helps out with the crash damage situations.

Truex could've used a bit of purple rain during the race at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex could’ve used a bit of purple rain during the race at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex :  It seems like these bodies have been a little tougher than the steel bodies.  It seems like you can get in the wall and get away with it.  Before, if you knocked a fender in with the steel body, there’s a pretty good chance that you’d cut a tire, so that’s pretty good too.

Tiongson :  Given how busy you are during the racing season, do you have a guilty pleasure TV show that you absolutely enjoy following?

Truex :  I mean, if we’re on Netflix, obviously, my go to is The Office.  Even though I’ve seen every episode, it never gets old.  If I need background noise or something on, that’s what goes on.

Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of TV or get time to besides sitting in the hotel room.  That’s kinda when I watch whatever happens to be on.  It’s been a crazy busy year so far which is a good thing.  It’s been a change of pace for me, especially after running the Truck Series last year and having so off weekends and time off.

Tiongson :  Always a good thing.  The busier you are, the more you’ll appreciate downtime.  Good choice with The Office.  Why do we always watch it even if we know what’ll happen?  Is it comforting for us or do we think things will change even though it won’t?

Truex :  Who knows?  I don’t have an explanation for it.

Tiongson :  I’ll have to say you’re a lot like Jim though.

Truex :  (laughs) I guess so.

Tiongson :    Despite being from New Jersey, I noticed how Martin was happy about the Philadelphia Eagles beating my New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.  Were you just as thrilled and do you think our teams will meet again next year?

All in all, this Eagles fan hopes to continue the magic started by older brother Martin last season. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

All in all, this Eagles fan hopes to continue the magic started by older brother Martin last season. (Photo Credit: Action Sports Photography, Inc.)

Truex :  I thought it was awesome.  Martin got to go to the game which was cool.  He’s been a lot to a lot of them and a lot of their losses too.  We’ve been fans our whole lives, so we know how tough it’s been for them.

It was cool that Martin won the championship and they won the Super Bowl during the same season.  It was special.  Who knows?  Maybe they go back this year or maybe they won’t.  You’ll never know.

Editor’s Notes  

Thanks to Ryan Truex for taking the time to start his new monthly blog on The Podium Finish!  Be sure to check out TPF for next month’s edition of “Tried and Truex!”  In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Ryan, “Follow” him on Twitter, “Like” his Facebook page, and “Visit” his official website!  Also, Happy Birthday to the late musical artist known as Prince, and advance birthday greetings to my father Virgil.

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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