ATLANTIC CITY - Ryan Truex hasn't had too much to do this offseason.
The 22-year-old stock-car driver, and younger brother of fellow NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr., is a free agent.
With the Sprint Cup season starting Feb. 14 in Florida with the exhibition Sprint Unlimited race and the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, it's beginning to look as if the Stafford Township native will have to wait for his chance to race in 2015.
Ryan, a Southern Regional High School graduate, left BK Racing in September. Ryan said at the time that both parties decided "to part ways and move toward the future."
He struggled in his first season at NASCAR's highest level. He was 39th in points with his best finish 20th in the August Pocono race. His average finish in 23 races was 35.7.
There hasn't been much to update since then, Truex said, but he still hopes to be in a racecar this season. He remains signed to a multi-year deal as a developmental driver with Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM), a contract he signed in 2013.
"We're still working hard with that and working to find the funding and right partnership to go out and run, whether it's XFINITY or (Sprint) Cup," Ryan said while attending the Atlantic City Indoor Races last weekend at Boardwalk Hall.
The Comcast XFINITY Series is NASCAR's No. 2 series of racing. The brand was previously sponsored by Nationwide, a change made last fall.
"After Chicago (Sept. 14), my last Cup race with (BK Racing), I was going to all the races," Ryan continued, "still supporting my brother and hanging with the RPM guys, just being at the race track and being seen.
"Other than that, I've just been hanging out. Doing a lot of go-kart racing in my spare time. It's been so cold there's not really much else to do."
The time off has given the younger Truex a chance to evaluate where he is in his career. It's also given him time to be closer to his family, especially with his older brother, who has had his own share of issues the past year.
Martin Jr. had a rough first season with Furniture Row Racing - he finished 24th in points - and his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, has been battling ovarian cancer for the past year.
Ryan said he hung out with Pollex last week, and posted a picture of the two on his Instagram account with the caption, "Very proud of this lady.. Toughest chick I know for sure #teamsherry."
Ryan said there has been some recent positive news for Pollex.
"She just went through her last aggressive treatment of chemo (on Jan. 26), so she's on (a maintenance program) now for a year," Ryan said. "She's doing good. She's a tough chick, for sure.
"The biggest thing for (Martin) is to be on the track. It's his way of escaping it, and that's the only thing he knows and loves. For her to support him and him to support her, it works out well."
In turn, Martin has been supportive of Ryan's endeavors. They talk often, and Ryan is reminded of Martin's battles for the past 10 years with different teams, the up-and-down seasons in Sprint Cup racing and the 2013 race scandal that led to his release from Michael Waltrip Racing after that season, though Truex was never linked to any wrongdoing.
"He knows a lot about overcoming adversity and getting through the up-and-down times," Ryan said. "I think that's something he's really helped me get through, and he's been by my side the whole time and believes in me. He's done all he can to help my career.
"It's good to have that in your back pocket, and having that last name doesn't hurt either."
Ryan said he enjoys hanging out at Boardwalk Hall every year for the indoor races. He said he competed in the Three-Quarter Midget Cars there in 2009, when he was 16. He said the event helps get his mind off his own racing ventures.
"I felt like we had so many opportunities to capitalize on some strong runs (last NASCAR season) and just had a lot of bad luck," Ryan said. "Michigan (June 15), for example, that kind of hurt having the injury (concussion) and having to sit out for a week. For sure, the most up and down year of my career, by far. I'm glad I can put it behind me and move on."
Those results aside, Truex said the biggest thing he got out of last year was experience.
Sprint Cup cars are much different than the vehicles driven in the XFINITY or Truck series, he said. Getting used to that, along with the level of competition, were the biggest adjustments for him.
"You really learn how to race, and you learn a lot for running around guys like Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson
and Kyle Busch and guys who are proven Cup winners and champions," he said. "Just the biggest thing for me is racing around them, earning their respect and getting experience."
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