by Ryan Isley
One of the best-run races by a NASCAR driver last weekend at Dover International Speedway turned out to give way to great disappointment when all was said and done. Ryan Truex ran the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-Hour Energy 200 for Joe Gibbs Racing and finished second, behind another of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers – Joey Logano.
The disappointing part for Ryan is that he wasn’t able to get his first career win, but there was disappointment for fans as well – Ryan doesn’t have a full-time ride in the Nationwide Series, despite the obvious fact that the kid can flat out drive a race car.
You may recognize the name Truex, as Ryan’s older Brother – Martin Truex, Jr. – races in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series after winning the Nationwide Series championship in 2004 and 2005. Back-to-back championships seem to run in the family, as Ryan proved his ability by winning the NASCAR Camping World East Series Championship in 2009 and then again in 2010.
Ryan Truex proved once again just how good of a driver he could be on Saturday at Dover. He did so not by leading 43 of the 200 laps, but by demonstrating just how much he could handle a car that wasn’t perfect. ESPN was showing an in-car camera angle at how he was handling the race car towards the end of the 5-Hour Energy 200. The camera showed how loose the car was and Truex’s hands were working overtime just to keep the machine on the track. He was able to do this lap after lap at one of the toughest tracks to race on and still brought the car in for that second-place finish.
The thing that is really frustrating is that while teams are looking for new talent to bring in, Ryan Truex remains on the outside waiting for his chance at a full-time ride with any team. It isn’t like Saturday’s second-place finish was a fluke for the 20-year-old, either.
Truex ran in 17 races in 2011 in the Nationwide Series and had seven finishes inside the top-15, finishing with 459 points, which was enough to end at 22nd in the standings. He averaged 27 points per race in his 17 races, which over a 34-race season would have put him in 11th place.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Truex finished 2011 on a high note. In his last seven races, he finished six of them in the top-13 and had one bad finish of 34th after a wreck. That was an average finish of 12.5 for those seven races – not bad for someone who had made just 17 career starts in the Nationwide Series before that stretch.
After a disappointing start to his Nationwide season this season with a 31st-place finish at the Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona, Truex has finished 10th, 32nd, 11th and now 2nd in his last four races this season. The 32nd-place finish was due to an engine failure, so when he had good equipment he averaged just over a 7th-place finish.
Truex has earned 136 points in his five races – an average of 27.2 per race – and would be in 8th place in the standings if he maintained that and had run in all 12 races so far. There are 16 drivers who have run all 12 races in the Nationwide Series this season and Truex averages more points per race than nine of them. While Truex sits in 22nd place in the standings, he has more top-10 finishes (2) than 11 of the drivers ahead of him and trails only two drivers outside of the top-seven in points in that category. To add to it, all but one driver that has more top-5 finishes than Truex – Trevor Bayne – have run in all 12 races this season.
As well as Truex has run in his limited opportunities, it would stand to reason that with consistent seat time, his finishes would improve. It is time that a team takes the chance and hires him full-time so that we all find out.
Has Ryan Truex earned the shot at a full-time ride or should he wait longer? You can leave a comment or email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org