Ryan Truex enters this weekend’s Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway with three straight top-10’s, including a season-best fourth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ahead of his home track race, the Hattori Racing Enterprises driver spoke with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about his thoughts entering the weekend, and his season so far.
Popular Speed: So, what are your thoughts going into Dover this weekend?
Ryan Truex: I’m excited. It’s my home track, and I have my home sponsor sponsoring the race so it’s extra incentive to do well, and we kind of have some momentum built after these past two races. So hopefully we can keep moving forward and get closer to a win.
PS: You ran two practices today (Thursday). How’d the truck feel during those?
RT: It felt good. The first practice we had some handling issues, but I think by the second practice we got it pretty good where I was pretty happy and comfortable. It’s the same truck that we raced at Charlotte and Kansas, so it’s had a lot of speed in it and it had a lot of speed today and drove really well. We were off a little bit in qualifying trim, but we have some ideas to get that better for tomorrow. But overall, I think it will race really well.
PS: What are your thoughts on your season so far?
RT: It’s been good. We got off to a rough start at Daytona getting wrecked on the second lap. After that, we’ve been getting better and better. The off-weeks at the beginning of the season helped us in getting our equipment ready, and kind of set back and rebuild a little bit. I signed on pretty late going into the season; it was January, and we got Scott Zippidelli in shortly after that. So it was kind of a last minute deal going into Daytona. So we were kind of behind the eight ball there and had to kind of rush to get to Daytona and Atlanta. So those off-weeks helped a lot in building new equipment, and getting ready for the mile and a halves and short tracks coming up.
PS: Before this season, you got to run some races with Hattori. What’s the biggest thing you were able to take away from those to help you out this year?
RT: I think just experience in the trucks. Most of these race tracks I’ve been to a few times, whether in XFINITY or Cup. So on that side of things, I felt I had a lot of experience. But the truck series is definitely different in how you race, how the trucks drive and how they behave in the draft a lot different at mile and a halves. So be able to run last year some and learn a lot of that has helped. At this point, we’re getting our trucks fast and can start to really focus on getting them to drive well and being to the tracks these before, I know the feel that I need at the tracks. Somewhere like Dover, I feel that’s a huge advantage for us just going into practice knowing what I feel I need to go fast and be good in the race.
PS: What is it like being with a small team going up against the bigger organizations in the series?
RT: I like it. I think it’s a fun challenge. I think it feels really good when you can beat them, which we have been able to do these past few weeks. It’s not without hard work and not without a financial investment, which Shigeaki (Hattori) has done a lot of us. He’s invested a lot of his time and money into this deal, and it’s kind of been a rough go the past year and a half to get to this point. We had a lot of good runs last year, but we had a lot of frustrating runs as well. We kind of had to go through growing pains last year, but that got us ready even more so for this year, and being able to get the right people in place over the off-season and rebuild the team and get some new equipment and refocus our efforts has been huge. We were able to go into the season with a whole new mindset and we like being the underdogs. It’s a good fit for us. We definitely embrace the role and nothing makes us happier than going out and beating the big teams every weekend.
PS: Beyond Dover this weekend, which tracks are you most looking forward to?
RT: I don’t know, actually. I like most of the tracks that the truck series goes to. I haven’t been to Kentucky since they repaved it, so not sure what to expect there, and Texas will be a big curve-ball for everybody in the garage just because it’s been repaved and reconfigured. Hopefully I can lean on my brother (Martin Truex Jr.) a little bit since he’s raced there already and that will help us. But I’m looking forward to the road course race. I really like road course racing. Eldora – that’ll be different. I’ve never raced on dirt in my life so that’ll definitely be a challenge for me, but I’m looking forward to it and I think it’ll be a cool to do something different. I’ve always wanted to race on dirt so it’ll be cool to get a shot to do it.
Truex showed speed during practice on Thursday, timing in eighth quickest in the second session behind the wheel of his No. 16 Toyota. He will look to back-up last year’s eighth-place finish at the one-mile high-banked concrete oval.
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