CORNELIUS, N.C. — Defending K&N Pro Series East champion and 2010 points leader Ryan Truex makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut Saturday night at Gateway International Raceway. Truex will pilot the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in the 200-lap race on the 1.25-mile oval near St. Louis. When the 18-year-old Mayetta, N.J. native takes the green flag, he’ll be the youngest of any driver racing in NASCAR’s top-three series. Truex is the son of race car driver Martin Truex Sr. and the younger brother of Martin Truex Jr. who drives the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Michael Waltrip Racing.
Truex on racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series: “It is a really big opportunity and I’m just excited to get started. I can’t wait to get the first race started. I just can’t thank everyone enough at MWR for giving me this opportunity. Three years ago I remember racing a Legend car at Wall Stadium in New Jersey and now I’m here. It’s hard to believe how fast it’s come, but I’m excited, ready to get started and make the most of my opportunity.”
Truex on following in brother Martin’s footsteps: “It’s pretty big shoes to fill. I don’t expect to go out and set the world on fire. I know it’s not going to happen. I’m just going to get my feet wet and just try to get as much experience as I can. I’m not going to go in and think I can run top-10 or top-five or anything like that. It’s a tough series. It took him a lot of starts to figure it out. It’s going to be tough. I put more pressure on myself than anything just to run as good as him just because of the last name and everything. I’m just going to go and try to do the best that I can.”
Truex on racing at Gateway: “I’ve never been there before so I’ll get some advice from my brother. He’s always helped me out in the K&N Pro Series cars so this series won’t be any different in that respect. It’s a tough series, they have a lot of the cup series guys competing each week, but the cars aren’t that much different than what I have been running in. I’m just going to go to the track and get as much practice time as I can on Saturday. I’m not there to set the world on fire, I’m just there to learn, gain respect and show them that I deserve to be there.”
Martin Jr. on coaching Ryan: “It’s been fun to watch Ryan progress. Like he said, he hasn’t been doing this very long and he’s come a long way as a driver. He’s been impressive on the race track and behind the wheel. All the things that he’s done has led to this point. I’ll coach if he needs help, but he’s done a great job so far and he’s got a great team behind him. I look forward to watching him make his first start in the Nationwide Series.”
Martin Sr. on his son’s Gateway debut: “I am very proud of him. In the early days I wasn’t sure this is what he wanted to do and I really never coaxed him to do it. When he was about 14 years old, he decided he wanted to race. I wasn’t real happy about it, but we’re proud of what he’s doing and he’s really come a long way in a short time. I think he’s really got some true talent. As we progress up the ladder, we’ll see what he has.”
Ryan Truex will be available in the Gateway media center at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
• Veteran Mike Greci, who once served as Martin Truex’s crew chief, will serve as Ryan Truex’s crew chief this weekend at Gateway.
• Martin Truex Sr. competed in 15 Nationwide Series races 1989-1998. His best career finish of 12th came at Nazareth Speedway in 1994. He won an East Series race at New Hampshire in 1994.
• Ryan is the first driver to earn a championship for Michael Waltrip Racing when he won the K&N Pro Series East Championship in 2009. He leads the 2010 standings by 43 points over Darrell Wallace Jr.