By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
It all made sense for NASCAR NEXT Class of 2018-19 member Ryan Vargas to make his Xfinity Series debut at Iowa Speedway.
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller announced Wednesday that the 18-year-old Californian will make his national touring debut in the U.S. Cellular 250 July 27, piloting the No. 15 Cranio Care Bears Chevrolet Camaro.
Last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series combo race, Vargas, who ran for the East championship, finished seventh in Max Siegel’s Rev Racing team. Vargas commented it was his best overall race he had, which he’s confident he can bring similar success to the Johnny Davis owned team and approach his race vicariously.
“Making my NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Iowa just makes sense,” said Vargas. “Last year, I felt that I was able to run my best race all year at the speedway, and to have the chance to drive for a well-respected team owner in Johnny Davis really adds to the excitement heading into the weekend.
“I think if we can keep all the fenders on my No. 15 Chevrolet and run as many laps as possible, the weekend will be a success. At this point in my career, I want to learn as much as I can so I can keep moving up the NASCAR ladder, so I am not necessarily worried about what the results show.”
Vargas motorsports journey has shifted after being let go from Rev Racing at the end of 2018 despite finishing sixth in points. This led him focusing on competing in both East and West coast late model races, where he’s already captured two wins at Irwindale Speedway, a circuit he’s eyeing of becoming the season track champion.
Perhaps more compelling about Vargas’ debut is his primary sponsor, Cranio Care Bears. The Californian has dealt with Craniosynostosis since the age of 11 months, undergoing surgery to correct these concerns. Craniosynostosis is a condition which causes problems with a child’s brain and skull growth.
The nonprofit organization’s goal is to spread awareness and support to families and children who’ve struggled with it, which hits close to him for Vargas.
“It means a lot to me to be able to help bring awareness to this great charity in Cranio Care Bears through the sport that I love so much,” said Vargas. “I know that I will have a lot of little supporters cheering me on that look up to me as a role model in the Cranio community, and I want to show them that anything is possible, even with the condition.”
The upcoming Iowa race will mark the fourth driver piloting the No. 15 entry as it’s primarily driven by B.J. McLeod this season, with his best result being 17th at Pocono. Outside of McLeod, Tyler Matthews and Landon Cassill have also ran the car with Matthews’ 20th place run at the first Iowa race being the best non-McLeod result.