By David Morgan, Associate Editor
HAMPTON, Ga. – Ryan Truex is making the most out of the opportunities in front of him
Running a part-time schedule behind the wheel of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 250 was the last of his starts this season with the team and he ended his six-race stretch on a high note, finishing third – his best NASCAR Xfinity Series finish of the year.
Truex was originally only scheduled for five races this season, but Auto Owners Insurance, who also sponsor his older brother Martin Truex Jr in the Cup Series, worked out a deal to get Ryan an additional race.
Starting back in 21st place after qualifying was rained out, Truex raced his way into the Top-10 by the end of the second stage, advancing up to third place by the time the checkered flag fell. Truex and the others in the lead pack made a last-ditch effort to get by leader Austin Hill on the final lap, but came up just short.
“I definitely have something to prove,” Truex said. “This feels good because, you know, I felt like every race I’ve run we’ve had speed and probably not finished where we should have. I felt like Texas, we had a car that could have won the race. And obviously the JRM cars have been super strong this year. Especially at most of the races I’ve run, so it’s been an uphill battle.
“It feels good, you know, to not have this race on my schedule, to come here and get a top three. Thought we were gonna have a chance at the win, but 21 was just super strong. So, congrats to him.
“We’ll see what this brings. I’m optimistic because, I didn’t have this one on my schedule and it worked out. So, we’ll see. I’m not very secret that I’m trying to work to stay with this team for a long time. My goal is to be racing full time in Xfinity with JGR. I’ve known these guys for a long time. Been with Toyota Racing a long time, so yeah, that’s what I’m working on. I don’t know if it’ll be this year, but we’re working on it.
Truex added that the relationship he has built with the team from owner Joe Gibbs on down is a big reason why he wants to stay on board into the future, explaining that he has been affiliated with both JGR and Toyota as a whole for several years, whether it’s been for his racing career or his brother’s.
“You know, when Coach comes up to you after the race and says good job and everything, it’s a great feeling,” Truex said. “It says a lot about the organization that he’s here on pit road. Every race I’ve run he’s been there. Obviously Ty is in the race.
“I just love the work ethic and the attitude of the team. I’ve been around them for a long time, whether I was driving for them or kind of just in the background when Martin was driving for them. Even in the Furniture Row days. It feels like home and hopefully we can keep it going.”
In the five races Truex ran prior to Saturday, he finished 12th at Daytona, in the top-10 at Martinsville and Texas, but finished 30th at Las Vegas and Darlington, so he wasn’t quite sure how Atlanta would turn out for him. In the end, it was a finish that could possibly lead to more in the future.
“I was kind of expecting to come in here and get wrecked, honestly,” Truex said. “Especially the way the rest of my races have gone. So yeah, it feels good. A month ago, I didn’t know I was running this race and to come here and to have Auto Owners on the car, which was really cool. The same paint scheme as Martin and to go out and get a top three with it is really cool. Hopefully those folks are happy and just keep building these relationships.
“It’s been uphill battle, but just keep on digging.”
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