Truex Ready To Defend East Championship
After taking the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East by storm a year ago, Ryan Truex will once again look to follow in his older brother’s footsteps in 2010.
Ryan became the third member of the Truex household to compete in the NKNPS East in 2009, preceded by his father, Martin Truex Sr., and brother, Martin Truex Jr. As it turned out, Ryan one-upped them both, as his stellar rookie season in the No. 00 NAPA Toyota resulted in the first championship trophy for a Truex in NASCAR’s top developmental series.
As the 2010 season opens this weekend at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, Ryan will once again strive to follow in the large footsteps of his older brother. While he did not earn a title in the NKNPS East, Martin Jr. did become a back-to-back champion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2004 and 2005. Ryan now has his sights set on a repeat in the K&N Pro Series East.
“Defending the title is going to be tough, there’s going to be a lot of good cars,” Ryan said. “Coming into 2010 as the defending East Series champion is definitely a big deal.”
Prior to last year, Ryan had only one start in the series under his belt, and it was at a track that was not on the 2009 schedule. With a full year in the rearview, he sees the possibilities for even greater success in 2010.
“Last year coming in as a rookie, I didn’t know anything about the cars or the tracks,” Truex said. “That’s going to be a big help [this year].”
While two of the tracks that his three wins came at as a rookie are not on the 2010 schedule, Ryan still figures to be able to lean on his experience. He finished in the top three at South Boston Speedway, twice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and was a winner at Lime Rock Park.
If a repeat is to get off on the right foot, Ryan and the Michael Waltrip Racing team will need to improve on their finishes from a year ago at Greenville Pickens and Iowa Speedway early in the season. In 2009 they finished 14th at Greenville and a promising run during the East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway was thwarted by an accident.
Whether Ryan and the No. 00 team will be able to match the amazing consistency they achieved last year with seven-straight top-three finishes will remain to be seen. But with that much success a year ago in just the first year together, they figure to be the preseason favorite to capture the crown again in 2010.
While the K&N Pro Series East 10-race slate will continue to be the focus for Ryan and MWR, the organization will also look to begin the next step with their latest talent. Ryan, who turned 18 March 18, will continue to follow in his brother’s path by venturing into the Nationwide Series. Ryan is currently slated to run six Nationwide Series races this season as a teammate to K&N Pro Series East alum Trevor Bayne, starting with Gateway International Raceway on July 17.
“I think the fans are going to like both of these guys a lot. I hope they are around a long time at MWR and in this sport,” said Michael Waltrip at last week’s announcement of Ryan’s future schedule. “(Ryan is) a fantastic young driver and we feel he is ready to step up to the Nationwide Series. (He) gave Michael Waltrip Racing its first championship last season … so he'll always be my hero.”
The 2010 campaign will commence for Truex and the rest of the field with the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 on Saturday, March 27.
Afternoon practice will be followed by qualifying at 6 p.m. and the green flag is scheduled to drop on the season at 8 p.m.
The Race: Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150
The Place: Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 27
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: SPEED, April 1, 6 p.m. ET
Track Layout: Half-mile asphalt oval
Race Purse: $119,097
2009 Winner: Brian Ickler
2009 Polesitter: Brett Moffitt
Event Schedule: Saturday: Practice 1-1:45 p.m., 2:15-3 p.m.; Qualifying 6 p.m.
The Race ... The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will open the 24th season of NASCAR K&N Pro Series East racing, the first under the K&N Filters sponsorship. This will be the fifth season in a row that the series has visited Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway.
The Procedure ... The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (75 miles).
The Track ... GPS is a half-mile asphalt oval with five degrees of banking in the turns. The facility opened in 1946 with a dirt racing surface and was paved in 1970. There were 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held at GPS from 1951-71.
Race Winners ... In the four previous NKNPS East races at GPS there has yet to be a driver record more than one victory. Sean Caisse, winner of the inaugural race in 2006.
Pole Winners ... As with race winners, there has yet to be a driver that has earned multiple poles at GPSS. Brett Moffitt is the only driver entered for this race with a pole at GPS, earned last year. Joey Logano has the qualifying record at 20.576 seconds (87.481 mph). When Moffitt won the pole, he also eclipsed Logano’s series record as the youngest pole winner at 16 years, eight months.
New Era Begins Under K&N Sponsorship
NASCAR announced on Jan. 21, 2010 during the Charlotte Media Tour that K&N Engineering, Inc., will be the title sponsor for NASCAR’s top developmental series, formerly known as the NASCAR Camping World Series East and West, beginning in 2010.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series will continue to crown champions through separate schedules on the East and West Coast. The seven-year agreement illustrates NASCAR’s commitment to the grassroots foundation of the sport.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series encompasses NASCAR’s oldest stock car series in the West, which dates back to 1954, and the East that has evolved from the former Busch North Series. It runs on a challenging combination of speedways, short tracks and road courses, and the series has made its mark throughout the years with tough competition and exciting racing.
The Riverside, Calif.-based K&N Engineering is the inventor and leading innovator of reusable cotton gauze filter technology for automotive applications. K&N, which has grown from a family-run business to a global company, traces its involvement with NASCAR back to the days of supplying parts for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the old Riverside Speedway.
Infusion of Additional Teams for 2010 Season
Whitt, Red Bull Join East ... Red Bull Racing is set to field a team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for the first time in 2010 with their highly-touted prospect Cole Whitt. From Alpine, Calif., Whitt has found a high level of success in open wheel racing in recent seasons in the USAC Sprint Car and Midget divisions. Whitt, 18, followed a 17-win season in 2009 by finished as the runner-up in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in January. He will drive the No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota for the full K&N Pro Series East schedule.
Revolution Racing to Field Four Cars ... The revamped Drive for Diversity program provides perhaps the biggest team news of the offseason. The newly-formed Revolution Racing will field four cars full-time in 2010 with drivers Mackena Bell, Ryan Gifford, Sergio Pena and Darrell Wallace Jr. Gifford made four starts a year ago, but the season-opener at Greenville Pickens Speedway will mark the first official appearance for the other three. Pena made his debut in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown exhibition in January and made a significant impression as he earned the pole and finished as the race runner-up to Joey Logano.
Germain Racing to Field East Entry ... Germain Racing, which fields teams in each of NASCAR’s three national series, will join the K&N Pro Series East for the first time in 2010. Zach Germain, son of Germain Racing co-owner Steve Germain, intends to compete full-time this season after running a Late Model at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway in 2009.
JGR Returns to Two-Car Team for 2010 ... After they competed as a one-car program the two previous seasons, Joe Gibbs Racing will go back to a full-time two-car operation in 2010 with drivers Brett Moffitt and Max Gresham. Moffitt finished third in the championship standings a year ago for Andy Santerre Motorsports. Gresham made just four total starts for JGR while splitting seat time with Matt DiBenedetto.
RCR to Run Full-Time ... After running a limited schedule in 2009, Richard Childress Racing will be back for the full schedule this season with Ty Dillon, younger brother of 2008 K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year Austin Dillon.
Spraker & Fadden Racing Expanding ... Spraker Racing Enterprises plans to field two full-time teams in 2010 with development drivers Drew Brannon and Andrew Smith after being a one-car operation a year ago. Fadden Racing is also expanding its program in 2010. Joey Polewarczyk is currently slated to race at least the first six races of the season while Columbian prospect Julian Camilo Albarracin will come on board once he turns 16.
Last Year at Greenville: Ickler Covers the Field
In the first three seasons that the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East visited historic Greenville Pickens Speedway, it was a new driver that visited Victory Lane each time, and the 2009 edition followed suit.
Brian Ickler led five times for all but five laps of the NASCAR Home Tracks 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet to take his fourth career K&N Pro Series East checkered flag.
South Carolina native Jody Lavender scored a career-best second-place finish, while Eddie MacDonald finished third. Josh Richards and Brett Moffitt, who both made their first career NASCAR starts, rounded out the top five.
Ickler qualified second behind Coors Light Pole Award winner Moffitt. A multi-car accident in Turn 1 on the start of the race caused a lengthy red flag, and on the race’s restart, Ickler got the jump on Moffitt and quickly began to pull away from the field.
MacDonald, restarted on the outside of the front row, briefly took the lead by a nose on two restarts. Each time however, Ickler erased the lead and pulled out to a commanding lead.
Patrick Long, Steve Park, Matt Kobyluck, Alan Tardiff, and Matt DiBenedetto completed the top 10.
Moffitt broke Joey Logano’s two-year old series record for the youngest pole winner in K&N Pro Series East history with his fast lap of 20.691 seconds (86.994 mph). Moffitt, who was born Aug. 7, 1992, was 16 years, eight months old when he won the pole award. Logano also won his first Coors Light Pole Award at Greenville Pickens in 2007, and was 16 years, 11 months at the time.
Up Next: South Boston 150
The second race of the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season is set for next Saturday, April 3 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.
This year’s South Boston 150 will mark the fourth season in a row that the K&N Pro Series East has ventured to the venerable southern Virginia landmark. Matt Kobyluck won the inaugural event in 2007 while Brian Ickler and Brett Moffitt have reached Victory Lane there the last two seasons.
Last year’s race was the launching point for Ryan Truex’s championship campaign. After three sub-par starts to begin the season, Truex earned his first career pole at South Boston and registered the first of seven-consecutive top-three finishes that propelled him to the title.
Among last year’s top-five finishers, at least four are expected to enter this year with Moffitt, Ryan Gifford, Truex and Max Gresham.
Did You Know? ...
• Ryan Truex and Jarit Johnson are writing monthly columns throughout the season on www.frontstretch.com.
• Defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion Jason Bowles is entered for this race at Greenville. This will mark the first time that defending East (Truex) and West champions have competed against each other in a traditional regular season race since 2007 when reigning champs Mike Olsen (East) and Eric Holmes (West) squared off seven times in East events.
• Four past NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champions are now helping run race teams. Five-time champ Andy Santerre is the director of competition for Revolution Racing, three-time titlist Jamie Aube is crew chief for Dustin Delaney, two-time winner Olsen is the car owner for Joey Polewarczyk and 1994 champ Dale Shaw is crew chief for his son D.J. Shaw.