In this week’s interview, Speedway Media catches up with Niece Motorsports newcomer, Ryan Truex. Truex recently joined the team for a full-season and will contend for the 2021 Truck Series championship. During the interview, the Mayetta, New Jersey native discusses what he considers his best season, if he has any superstitions about racing and his “Welcome to NASCAR” moment, among other topics.
SM: You’ve run 52 races in your Truck Series career over the past seven years and have come close to winning multiple times. In your opinion, what’s the best you’ve ever run?
RT: “I’d say my best season was 2017 with HRE (Hattori Racing Enterprises),” Truex said. “We were starting to build new trucks during that year and really started performing well and coming close to winning races. I knew the team was on the verge of winning races at the end of the year. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to put something together for the following season and the rest is history.”
SM: Following up on that question, you finished second twice in the series, once in 2016 at Daytona and then three years ago in 2017 at Loudon. Both times you had strong trucks. What do you think you could have done differently to score the victory or were those races just not meant to be? Is Daytona still a heartbreaker as you reflect back or is there a different race that you wish you had back?
RT: “Daytona was a tough one because I felt like we were in the right position to race back to the checkered flag and have a great shot at the win. The caution just came out at the worst time when I was trying to build a run to take the lead back,” he said. “2017 Loudon was another tough one. We took the lead on a late restart and I did everything I could to hold (Christopher) Bell off, he just had a stronger truck than me at the end of the day. I believe things happen for a reason and that my time will come. I just have to keep working at it.”
SM: Has there ever been a moment where you’ve gotten lost at a racetrack? If so, where did you get lost, and how did you get back to the right spot?
RT: Road America 2018, it took me quite a while to find the garage area,” Truex said. “I ended up in a random corner like two miles from where I was supposed to be and had to open up maps on my phone and turn on satellite view to figure out where I was and where I needed to be.”
SM: Most drivers have their ‘Welcome to NASCAR moment that’s happened during a race. When did you have that moment and how did you take that learning lesson moving forward?
RT: “One that sticks out to me is Talladega, 2012,” Truex said. “I was running an Xfinity car for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) in a limited schedule. Back then we were still allowed to tandem draft at the superspeedways. I was running mid-pack, just riding, and none other than Dale Jr. latched to my bumper and pushed me all the way to the front. As soon as we got there, he left me out by myself and took the lead and I got pushed right to the back again. I like to imagine he was smirking behind that visor when he did that.”
SM: In racing, many drivers are skeptical of myths or urban legends, things like the No. 13, no peanut vendors at the racetracks, etc. In your mind, what’s the craziest superstition you’ve ever heard as a racecar driver and do you believe in that superstition?
RT: “I don’t believe in superstitions but I’ve heard them all,” he said. “MTJ (Martin Truex Jr., Ryan’s brother) with the rabbit’s foot for Homestead in 2017 that Darrell Gwynn (former NHRA Driver) gave him is probably the craziest one that I’ve heard, but it obviously worked out pretty well.”
SM: The Truck Series has really evolved from its beginnings in 1995 and has had a lot of storied drivers and unique races. If you could go back in time to race in a certain event, which event would you choose and why?
RT: “I think the first year of the series would be cool to be a part of,” Truex said. “Lots of unique tracks and drivers and the atmosphere around the new series seemed like a really exciting thing to be involved with.”
SM: Who is one race car driver that you believe will always have your back no matter what happens on the racetrack?
RT: “I think the obvious answer is my brother (Martin Truex Jr.), but there are a few others out there that I have a lot of respect for and feel like that feeling is mutual,” he said. “Brett (Moffitt) and I have known each other for a long time and we’re teammates which makes it a great combo for us. I feel like (Matt) Crafton and (Johnny) Sauter have always been two drivers that I’ve always had a great relationship with on and off the track as well.”
SM: Sometimes people get mistaken for different people in real life and being on the grid. Has there been an instance where you were mistaken for somebody else?
RT: “If I had a nickel for every time someone thought I was Kyle Larson, I could start my own truck team.”
SM: As in most cases in racing, there are more bad days than good. Whenever you have a bad day at the tack, how do you pick yourself up and not let it ruin the rest of the day or the weekend?
RT: “I just have to remind myself that quitters never win and the bad days will always pass,” Truex said. “You can’t let yourself dwell too much on them.”
SM: Rain delays are never fun during racing. How do you pass the time during a rain delay?
RT: “Eat all the food.”
SM: There are several new tracks on the Truck Series schedule, such as Bristol Dirt, Circuit of the Americus, Nashville returning to the schedule, Knoxville and Watkins Glen. Which of these tracks are you looking forward to the most and why?
RT: “I have Watkins Glen circled on my calendar,” he said. “I’ve always run well there, and its a track I’ve been going to for a long time – since Martin was racing there in the Busch North Series. I feel like we will have a good shot at a win there.”
SM: Wrapping this up, what’s one goal or expectation that you would like to achieve before the end of the year?
RT: “I’ve been around the national series level for a long time,” Truex said. “I’ve been very close to winning races multiple times and feel like I’ve proven I can get the job done, but I know I need to win. Bottom line. I think I have a team capable of doing it and my plan is to finally get some trophies this year.”
Truex has made 53 Truck Series starts to date over a span of seven years, with 11 top-fives and 20 top-10 finishes with two poles along with 151 laps led. Additionally, the New Jersey native has made various starts in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series and won back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series Championships in 2009 and 2010.
Special thanks to Michelle Brachowski for coordinating this interview and many thanks to Ryan Truex for taking the time out of his busy schedule for the interview.