A rookie on the rise: Ray Black Jr.

As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Gateway Motorsports Park, one rookie aims to climb back into the top 10 of the championship standings, Ray Black Jr.

Black continues to fly under the radar, mostly unnoticed, but continues to fight and prove he belongs in one of NASCAR’s premier series.

Earlier this season the 24-year-old rose up to on NASCAR’s biggest stage, Daytona International Speedway, to record a career best 5th place result.

The true grit of the team continued to show throughout the season.

At Dover, Black suffered transmission issues as Black brought the #07 ScubaLife.com Chevy for SS Green Light Racing home in 11th with only fourth gear.

When the Bobby Dotter owned team hit the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, Black ran strong until a vibration forced the team to make an unscheduled pit stop under green. The issue caused the #07 ScubaLife.com Chevy to go three laps down, but ran lap times good enough to run among the top 10.

The rookie fought back to finish 16th.

“I was frustrated with myself a lot during the race,” Black told Tribute Racing. “Just knowing that it’s a long race, you got to pace yourself and not get upset at small things. It’s the big picture, you got to go out and finish the race.

“Save the truck, make points up. It’s just a big learning curve and we’re doing a good job at it and I’m getting better each week.”

Following Texas, Black now sits 12th in the championship standings, eight points out of the top 10.

When asked to sum up his season after just seven races, Black maintained his optimism, but knows there is much work to be done.

“I think it’s been really good so far,” said Black. “There’s obviously great competition and it’s going to be hard to even get a top two out of it (the Rookie of the Year battle). We just got to keep clicking off these good finishes. I mean this isn’t a terrible finish (at Texas).

“We can do better and I know it but they’re going to keep getting better. We either got to step our game up or we’re going to get left behind. So, we’re just going have to keep getting after it.”

Black raced at Gateway Motorsports Park last year on a partial schedule, and next to Texas Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, it will be his third track to race multiple times at already.

Perhaps the third time is the charm.

As the series approaches the summer months, painting a better outlook on the championship picture, a rookie continues to rise to the challenges presented each and every week.

With the season taking shape, it’s the determination of how the team keeps fighting back that keeps Black motivated and optimistic looking forward.

“It’s a good thing we’re getting this good this early in the season.”

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Joey Barnes is the Founder of Motorsports Tribune. He has covered auto racing since 2013 that has spanned from Formula 1 to NASCAR, with coverage on IndyCar. Additionally, his work has appeared on Racer, IndyCar.com and Autoweek magazine. In 2017, he was recognized with an award in Spot News Writing by the National Motorsports Press Association.

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