Ryan Truex snagged his first ever NASCAR Xfinity Series win this past weekend at Dover Motor Speedway, but you already knew that.
While everyone else was lamenting the best weekend ever to have a brother with the last name Truex, I was left thinking about the younger Truex’s next steps and the road he took to get here.
Before joining Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity squad part-time last year, Truex was a career part-timer across the entire sport, having only run one full season of Xfinity since 2010, two in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and almost one in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2014 for BK Racing. Remember them? Me either.
The Mayetta, New Jersey native had his best NASCAR year to date before the current season in the Truck Series in 2017 for Hattori Racing Enterprises when he earned a ninth-place finish in the final points standings. His best result in Xfinity was with the then-upstart Kaulig Racing in 2018, where he finished 12th.
Truex lost that ride due in part to Justin Haley, who had just finished inside the Championship 4 in the Truck Series, being announced as his successor, but in large part due to a lack of sponsorship that he brought to the team.
(I was personally shocked that big brother didn’t offer some Bass Pro Shops money, but manufacturer lines probably put a strain on that).
Now that Ryan has been in the same building as his older brother, though, and has a team behind him with enough money to fund the car themselves, he has his shining moment. A 13-year long career culminated in one glorious moment this past weekend, and there may not have been anybody more deserving.
But what’s next?
The answer is fairly simple: find someone, anyone, that will pay you to drive for an entire season. Now that he’s a winner, it should be easier to find a ride. He also has one more key argument on his side, though.
Ryan is 31. He has zero Cup wins. Do you know how many his older brother and Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. had at that age? One.
Could Ryan be a late bloomer, just like his brother? Obviously, the retirement rumors about Martin have been flying for some time now, but if Ryan were to find a full-time ride next year or even continue running as well as he has in the limited action he’s seen this season, could Gibbs keep the No. 19 Toyota in the family?
It would make plenty of sense. The sponsorship would more than likely remain with the team, and you wouldn’t even have to change the name plates you already have for Martin all that much (every dollar counts here, you know).
All of this is for naught, however, if Ryan can’t find a full-time seat somewhere soon, but his victory this weekend just might have done it. There are always seats open after an Xfinity season, and with several drivers in the higher series stepping down, it’s entirely possible that we could see Ryan Truex in a full-time seat next year.
All of that is to be determined by forces much higher than you and I, but one thing is for sure: if Ryan is a late bloomer like his big brother, this could just be the start. A 13-year motorsport career peaked on Saturday, and if you ask Ryan, I’m sure he would tell you that he hopes it’s just the start.
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