Ryan Ellis will be back in the driver’s seat at Richmond International Raceway with a little help from his brothers.
The Virginia native will return to the racetrack with sponsorship from Kappa Sigma Fraternity, a previous partner for the 25-year-old.
Ellis will team up with JGL Racing in the No. 93 Dodge. Dave Goulet, who has 36 starts atop the pit box as a crew chief, will lead the team’s effort after recording a top 10 with Mike Wallace at Daytona. The pair worked together at New Hampshire, yet they ended the day with a 36th-place effort after a transmission failure on lap 62.
“I expect to be a top 25 car,” Ellis said over the phone on Monday evening. “Anything less than that, I think I would be disappointed with. Obviously, I don’t get many opportunities to run a full race. I only get to run two or three a year in Nationwide, so it is a little more pressure than people realize. I have been excited for Richmond since the beginning of the year because I knew it was a place that I was going to be able to get the full race and go out to compete, which I don’t normally get that opportunity. This weekend, I get to run on new tires with my friends and prove to them that I actually know what I am doing. My goal is to get a top 20. I think that would be awesome. We can only be as good as the car is.”
While attending George Mason University, Ellis joined Kappa Sigma, and the fraternity has been supporting his racing endeavors ever since. This weekend, his car will feature its “Military Heroes Campaign” paint scheme, which he helped design. Thanks to the opportunity, Ellis will have over 40 guests at the track cheering him on this weekend.
The team hopes to have Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Kyle Carpenter at the track this weekend. Carpenter is a retired Marine who received major injuries to his face and right hand in a grenade attack from a Taliban militant. Carpenter jumped in front of the grenade to protect the fellow soldier he was with.
“This year, we are going to the military heroes fund for brother Kyle Carpenter,” Ellis said. “We have been working with him and it would be really cool to represent not only Kyle, but military heroes all across the US. It’s great for JGL to allow us to use the space on the car to have Kappa Sigma military heroes as well. Last year, we focused more on our endowment fund, which helps fund scholarships for fellow Kappa Sigma brothers like myself. I’m still paying off my student loans, so that would’ve been nice to benefit from all of the things that Kappa Sigma does.”
For Ellis, this will be his 15th career Nationwide Series start. With a career-best finish coming earlier this year at Las Vegas with the now-defunct SR2 Motorsports team, he is looking to improve on that at the same speedway at which he ran his first full race.
Along with running for JGL Racing this weekend, Ellis will fill out the remainder of the schedule with The Motorsports Group, piloting the No. 46 Chevrolet for the organization as Matt DiBenedetto continues to drive the team’s lead car after Josh Wise left the team due to competing for a top 25 spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
“I really have to put myself in position to not only represent the fraternity, but represent JGL Racing and myself,” Ellis said. “Everyone is going to judge me off of how I do at Richmond – much like they did at Las Vegas. We have to keep it clean. I don’t even know how it all started. I think I just ran into Denise Harmon-Mixon, who is the wife of Gregg Mixon – the team manager. It was the right place at the right time.
“JGL has been pretty loyal to me. I’m really happy to be running with JGL. They are a great team and you can see how well they run when you watch JJ Yeley out there.”