In early March, Ryan Reed got the chance to get back behind the wheel, placing ninth in the Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with DGR-Crosley Racing. It marked his first start in one of NASCAR’s top-three series after being let go from his NASCAR Xfinity Series ride at the end of 2018 due to lack of sponsorship.
Recently, POPULAR SPEED caught up with the California native to discuss that race, as well as his outlook towards his future in NASCAR.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on how Las Vegas Motor Speedway played out for you?
RYAN REED: Overall, everyone was pretty happy. The team was pleased. I thought, as a driver I take a lot of responsibility in getting the finish we deserve, and I felt like we had the opportunity at once in the race to be in the top-five, and show a little more speed than we did. But overall, DGR is a young team, still developing, and they have great people and key components, and the truck drove really good. I think a top-10 was a solid result. No major mistakes. I felt like if we did that race over again, we could turn the ninth-place finish into a fifth-place finish, but overall, all things considered, it was a solid weekend.
Those deals are so tough. You have one weekend, you haven’t worked with those guys very much so you’re still trying to figure out little things here and there, so it was a lot different than what I was used to. It was cool to get the opportunity with David (Gilliland), everybody at DGR-Crosley. Having Dexcom, Inc. come on-board was huge. For them to help me get back in a seat in the top-three series was really cool, and definitely after losing a full-time after the last five years, it was good to get out there.
PS: What do you feel that you and DGR-Crosley Racing could’ve done better to finish higher?
RYAN: I think just clean some little stuff up. Pit stops – I felt that was one of the spots walking away that could’ve been a little bit better, and then I felt like I could’ve done a better job on the restarts. It took me a little bit to figure out what line to be in.
The Xfinity (Series) stuff races so much different – the restarts are so much different, the drafting is so much different. Just not having done that – I ran one truck six or seven years ago and I hadn’t ran anything on a mile-and-a-half, so going back into it was a huge different experience. Regardless, I think between the restarts and pit stops, cleaning some stuff up, there’s three or four spots there easily.
PS: You touched upon this, but how much different are the trucks compared to the Xfinity Series cars?
RYAN: A lot varies. The engine package – you’re racing at a lower RPM so keeping momentum up is really a big deal. Obviously, way more drag as they punch a big hole in the air so drafting is really big. You’re pretty much wide-open once the sun goes down there at Las Vegas. It’s almost like restrictor plate racing in a sense with the drafting.
Also, it’s just so hard to finish passes in those trucks, because it’s so hard to manipulate the air on the other trucks around you. So when you get around the veteran guys, they get really tough to pass. It’s all those little things that you’re not going to figure out in one race. I got to hop in there for one race, learned a lot, and felt like I gave some good feedback to help the team – and that’s it for the year.
I think Tyler (Ankrum) and those guys have the opportunity to build on some great pieces they have right now. Especially for a new truck team, you have a lot of building to do a race team and it takes some consistency. I look forward to watching those guys and watching them get better.
PS: Can you shed any light on what the rest of 2019 holds for you?
RYAN: I think we have really exciting stuff that we’re working on, obviously none of it I can reveal today as none of it is signed on the dotted line yet. But I think we’re really close to signing a little bit for this year, and then a lot for 2020. I think when the deal wrapped up at the end of last year and the sponsor announced they weren’t coming back leaving me out, it was so late in the year that typically when you find that out in November, it’s hard to put something together in 60 days before the start of the next season.
So I think when that happened, I think we realized that we’d be rebuilding in ’19 and come back stronger in 2020, and I feel like with the parts and pieces we have in play right now, I feel that we can do that. I feel we can be in a really good position with a really strong team and good partners going into 2020, so just have to keep working hard and finishing those up.
It’s a real interesting perspective for me this year sitting back and observing. I feel like I’ve become more a student of the sport than I have been. I’m just trying to do whatever I can that when I do the get the opportunity, if I get the opportunity, I’m prepared as possible and when you’re in this position, that’s all you can do. You can just work as hard as you can, and hope the dominoes fall that allow you to have another shot at an opportunity.
PS: As you look back on the past couple Xfinity Series seasons, what moment stands out for you the most?
RYAN: Obviously the Daytona wins; those are so special, especially when you have struggles and adversity like our team had plenty of. We had a lot of bad weeks and a lot of times that we left the track so frustrated, not understanding what we needed to do and could do to find more speed. Obviously when you go down to Daytona and Talladega, that gives you a level playing field and that gives you the opportunity to maybe beat the guys that have your number on the short tracks and mile-and-a-halves, and road courses.
The Daytona wins – to see not only what it meant to me and my family, but also the whole team, was such a great feeling across the board, and you could see that across the organization. Obviously, it meant so much to my team, the 16 team, and my crew chief and my guys that all had a hand on that, but also across the organization with the Cup guys. It was a big shot in the arm for everybody. I’ll remember that forever in how much it meant to everyone around me with the celebrations, the victory parties, the team lunches – it was really cool.
PS: What would you have done differently in knowing what you know now as you look back?
RYAN: I think there’s so much that I could’ve done differently. I started racing full-time when I was 19-years-old, so it’s kind of interesting to think back when you’re 25. I think like anyone whose 25 and looks back at their life when they were 19, they would do a couple things different. I think there are things that I could’ve done a little better, probably listen more and talk a little less, and maybe worked a little harder and done a bit better job here and there. I think it would’ve made a difference, but ultimately, everything happens for a reason.
I feel like all the decisions led me to where I am today – good, bad, and different – and whatever is next is going to come as a result of hard work. That’s something that I knew always was that my work ethic was always there, right or wrong. I just want to continue working hard and learn from my mistakes, and build on the things that I did right. That’s all you can do as a person, and I think it’s a really exciting time for me.
Anytime you have a big change in your life, it leads you wondering what’s next. It can be a little scary, but it also can be very exciting if you accept the challenge, and I think that I have the right system around me with mom, dad, and my girlfriend that have gave me a lot of support through it all and excitement for the future.
PS: We’ve seen drivers trying different series and cars. Is there anything on the bucket list for you?
RYAN: Yeah, there’s a lot. I think there’s countless things that I’d like to try and hop into. There’s drift cars, and all that. But I think the thing that I’ve always thought about that I think would be very cool for a couple different reasons, is to run the Indy 500 and the Coke 600 in the same day. It’s something that I think is just pretty amazing for a lot different reasons. Obviously, you have two of the biggest races in the world in the same day, and there are guys that have done both of them in the same day which is an amazing 1,100 mile feet.
But obviously, for me, living with Type 1 Diabetes, I feel like that’d be a really cool story to tell in being able to manage diabetes and do one of the difficult doubleheaders you can do in motor racing. I think that’d be a really cool story. Obviously, that’s not a story that I can tell yet as I’m not there, but I think that’d be a bucket list thing to do one way.
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