Tried and Ryan Truex (July 2018 Edition)

Undoubtedly, Ryan Truex focuses towards continued progress for a strong playoff spot. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Undoubtedly, Ryan Truex focuses towards continued progress for a strong playoff spot. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Previously, Ryan Truex joined The Podium Finish family with his new monthly blog series.  In summary, the Mayetta, NJ native discussed his season to date, the aerodynamic package, and his fandom of The Office.

Recently, I caught up with Truex as he prepared for last Friday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway.  Incidentally, the 26-year-old racer reflected on the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro team’s intermediate track program, the upcoming races, and his Daytona experience with a damaged car.

Suffice to say, this young man can handle the latest Obstacle Course on Nickelodeon’s Double Dare.  However, his day job is driving the No. 11 entry, and with that, he’s running down a dream towards wins and the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.  Might he be as adept for “Road Course August?”  Find out about that and much more in this month’s edition of “Tried and Ryan Truex!”

Rob Tiongson :  You’ve maintained your eighth position in the points standings as the series heads to Kentucky Speedway.  Before delving into this weekend, I’d have to say you had quite the eventful race at Daytona.  How challenging was it to hold onto your car and nearly top-10 that race given the alignment damage?

Ryan Truex :  It was a pretty typical night race at Daytona.  It always seems to have a lot more action and a lot more hectic racing.  I knew we had a good car going into it, but kind of got us behind a little bit at the start trying to make things happen.

For whatever reason, the top groove wasn’t as good as it was in February.  Once we got back up there and got our stage points, we tried to run in Stage 2 with the two tires we had, fought the handling a little bit, and got shuffled back.

We decided to take four tires and when we did that, that’s about when the wreck happened.  We were just kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time.  After the wreck, it was a bit of a handful.  My guys did a really good job getting it fixed up considering the damage clock rule.  We were able to get it fixed and hold on.

We avoided the next two wrecks, so it was hectic the whole night.  Luckily, we were able to salvage a good finish.  On the last restart with the green/white/checkered, we wound up getting hung out in the wrong line.

With all the damage and everything, we still had a car that was good enough to finish in the top-10.  To come out of there and get decent points and not have a DNF or a really bad finish was a decent weekend for us.

Tiongson :  At Daytona, you had the Visor Cam during the telecast.  Are there times that when you have that angle, do you replay those races and critique yourself for future races?

Make no mistake, Truex can learn from prior races through features like NBC's Visor Cam. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Make no mistake, Truex can learn from prior races through features like NBC’s Visor Cam. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Truex :  I watch as much info as I can get from what I tape.  I watch broadcasts from the previous races going into the weekends.  When I have the Visor Cam, it’s good to be able to go back and re-watch everything just to see what I did right and wrong and what I could do differently especially for those tracks that we go back for a second time.

Obviously, Daytona’s done for the year, but it’s always good to go back and watch that and see what I can learn and apply for the next time that we show up.

Tiongson :  Given the consistency to battle for top-10’s, what’s your take on your team’s approach heading to Kentucky Speedway?

Truex :  For us, it’s kind of a test.  We’re trying out a few different things this weekend to get our mile and a half program better.  I feel like, right now, that’s been the spot where we haven’t found the feel that I’m looking for in these cars yet.  So, we’ve kinda stepped back and thought about it and try something a little different that we haven’t really run to see if we can get the feel that I’m looking for in the car.

Kentucky’s a little different than the other ones because it’s repaved, and the corners are so different.  It’s very treacherous with the new pavement.  This weekend’s a little different, but I think what we can learn here and what we find here, we can apply to these other ones going into the playoffs.

Tiongson :  Kentucky slightly changed its layout so that the corners now vary, and the pace has picked up some with the re-pavement done in 2016.  While the schedule won’t change any time soon, do you believe other tracks should consider shaking things up to deliver in variety and challenges?

Truex :  Yea, I mean, a lot of these mile and a tracks are getting to the point where they’re getting worn out.  You need to start to move around and run a bunch of different lanes.

Chicagoland, for example, I think, is one of the best now because it’s gotten worn out and bumpy.  If you were to go to repave that now, it’d go back to a single lane racetrack right around the bottom.  It’d be much like Kansas during the first few years that it was repaved.  Now that we have gone there a few times and it’s gotten some wear on the pavement and wear out tires and gotten bumpier, we can move around and run side-by-side and choose different lanes in the corners.  It’s kind of a balance with that.

Texas is another one that was repaved and reconfigured.  It’s still treacherous just because you have one lane at the bottom and it’s hard to move around in that new pavement and lay rubber down.  Every time that you come back, it gets better and better.  I would imagine in the next year or two, Texas will get to the point where we can widen the groove out and it will start to get some character and bumps, things like that.

It’s tough to balance what you do because these tracks, as they age, they get character, and the racing gets better and better.  It’s hard to say where Texas and Kentucky will be in a few years once they get that character.

Tiongson :  This month’s action wraps up with races at Loudon, a track special to your family, and back at Iowa, before “Road Course August.”  With a pair of tracks that are relatively short track in nature coming up, would you say that these are tracks that really put the action back into the driver’s hands to win?

Naturally, Truex hopes to improve on his 14th place finish when the series returns to Iowa. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Naturally, Truex hopes to improve on his 14th place finish when the series returns to Iowa. (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Truex :  I’m looking forward to going back to Iowa because we’ve been there once.  We kind of know what we can do going back so that’ll be good.  It’ll be a good test of how we’re able to adapt and look at a setup and know what we did right and wrong and what we can bring back to be better.  I’m looking forward to that.

Obviously, Loudon is one of my favorite tracks.  I ran well in the Truck last year and probably had a chance to win that.  For whatever reason, I’ve always been comfortable there and we’ve had speed there, so I think that’ll be a good one for us.

As far as the road course swing coming up, I think the biggest thing with those races is survival.  It seems like there’s so much going on during those races.  Everybody’s on different strategies and the stage racing makes everyone race so aggressively at the end of those stages.  Getting to the end of those races, it seems like you’ll have a good shot at a good race finish.  I’m looking forward to those.  We’ve been doing a lot of preparation and things that I can do outside of the car to get ready for that, so we can go right off the bat and have speed.

Tiongson :  Which drivers would you say are your closest friends or those who you know could handle your witty ways or pranks?

Truex :  Well, I’ve got a few in the XFINITY garage like Cole Custer, Ryan Reed, and Daniel Hemric.  There’s guys that know me and get my sarcasm, and then there’s the guys that don’t.  But as far as guys who I can race around, there’s guys I trust and those I don’t.  You kind of figure that out as the year goes on.  Now that we’re halfway into the year, I’ve got a good idea who my friends are and who aren’t.

Tiongson :  Do you have a memorable moment with a driver or a friend at the track, or even a past driver who’s now a commentator, in terms of your sense of humor? 

Truex :  I’d say it’s been Parker Kligerman in the past few weeks.  (laughs)  I really enjoy messing with him, so that’s been the one I’ve enjoyed messing with these past few weeks.

Tiongson :  And do you mess around with him about how his perfect hair and looks? 

Truex :  Yes, exactly! (snickers)

Tiongson :  You’ve had the chance to take part in MRN’s coverage of the Truck race at Chicagoland a few weeks ago.  How was that experience like for you to cover the action and did you learn some things from that perspective?

Truex :  It was really cool to get that view of everything and see all that information that they have coming up there with the live feed, the timing and scoring, all the different things that are going on, and as well as those guys being able to not talk over each other, and be coordinated with everybody standing around the track in different corners with the guys in the booth.

So, it was cool.  I don’t know if I have a future in that.  I’m not very good at being quick on my feet and saying words without messing them up big time, so I don’t think I could handle that.  But, as far as me doing it here and there, to say a few words, that was good.  They gave me time to think about it.  As far as being able to call the race like those guys do, I don’t think I’m cut out for it.

Tiongson :  So if you got to do a driver’s only telecast for a Cup race, you’d probably not do it, eh?

Truex :  I’d be better off as a pit reporter because I’d have time to prep myself and know what I’m going to ask before I ask it and not have to think too quick off my feet, you know?

Tiongson :  Alright, Professor Truex.  Last month, we talked about composite bodies.  For this month’s “technical word,” talk about the differences between scuffs and stickers and when you and your team would run with either of these types of tires during a race weekend.

Truex :  It seems like all these newly paved tracks like Texas, Kentucky, and Kansas over the past few years, everybody’s wanting to scuff tires in practice.  You see everybody going out to do half a lap or a lap and come right back in.  For whatever reason, with the tire they bring and the new pavement, the tire likes to have that glaze knocked off it and a heat cycle on it before it gets the maximum grip.

If you put stickers on and go out and make a run, your fast lap isn’t until lap five or six.  Sometimes, it’s after you come into the garage and come back out.  For these races, a lot of times, we’ll scuff tires, so we got that first heat cycle out of the way.  Once you do that, they have more grip when you go back out there.

Tiongson :  Good points!  Gives a new perspective with those tires.  Now I’ve got to ask – did you grow up watching 90’s game shows on Nickelodeon, right?

Truex :  Yea.

Tiongson :  Hopefully you know that Nickelodeon brought back Double Dare last month and they have the Obstacle Course and stuff…

Truex :  I tweeted about it.

Tiongson :  You did? How did I miss that?  Firstly, what’s your impression of the new Double Dare and secondly, do you ever think that those kids are so slow on the Obstacle Course?

Calling Nickelodeon - Ryan Truex could be the first auto racer on Double Dare! (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Calling Nickelodeon – Ryan Truex could be the first auto racer on Double Dare! (Photo Credit: Jeremy Thompson/TPF)

Truex :  I tweeted them and asked if we could have a NASCAR driver edition.  I’d be the first one to sign up for that.  I haven’t watched it yet, so I don’t really know for sure.  I’d love to do it if they gave me the chance!

Tiongson :  They brought back the pick your nose one and the Mount St. Double Dare obstacle.  Who would you have as your teammate if you could do it?

Truex :  That is a great question.  I don’t know.  I’d have to have try outs I think.

Tiongson :  Probably not your brother then…

Truex : (laughs) Yea.

Tiongson :  Cause he’s been slimed one too many times.

Truex :  Yea, exactly.  He’s totally over it. (chuckles)

Editor’s Notes  

Thanks to Ryan Truex for taking the time for his monthly blog on The Podium Finish!  Be sure to check out TPF for next month’s edition of “Tried and Ryan 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!

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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