Ryan Truex will make the biggest start of his short but tumultuous career on Saturday.

The Mayetta, Stafford Township, native will make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway for the 500-lap IRWIN Tools Night Race.

Truex, a development driver for Richard Petty Motorsports, will be driving the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing.

"It's a huge deal for me," said Truex, the younger brother of Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex Jr. "It's my first Cup race so I'm excited. It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it."

Truex became a top driving prospect with back-to-back K&N Pro Series East titles in 2009 and 2010.

But despite making 35 starts on the Nationwide Series with nine top-10 finishes, a full-time ride never materialized. He signed a developmental deal with RPM earlier this season.

"It's always frustrating when you're out of a ride," Truex said. "All you can do is work as hard as you can and make the most of every opportunity that you get. Other than that, everything else is out of your control."

Truex was scheduled to make his first Sprint Cup start in early June at Dover International Speedway but suffered another hiccup when he broke his collarbone in a dirtbike accident near his home in Mayetta on Easter Sunday.

The 21-year-old will race full time on the Nationwide Series next year while looking to enter a handful of Sprint Cup races along the way thanks to a five-year deal with RPM.

Now Ryan is satisfied knowing his career is headed the direction he originally planned.

"It got slowed down for a while there," he said. "For a while it was really on the fast track for a full-time ride but things never worked out the way they were supposed to.

"Finally getting a solid home with Richard Petty Motorsports and having a multi-year contract and having them behind me just gives me a solid future."

Truex drove for the first time since breaking his collarbone last weekend as he ran practice and qualifying laps for new RPM teammate Marcos Ambrose at the Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

But Truex knows that qualifying in the Nationwide Series and going 500 laps at Bristol at night against the world's best are totally different animals, so his goals are simple.

"The biggest thing is just keeping the car on the track for 500 laps," he said. "Keep the fenders on it, stay out of trouble and be there at the end."

Richard Petty, Truex's new boss and a legend in the sport, is excited to have Truex on board.

"It will be a big night for Ryan," Petty said in a news release from RPM. "He is a talented driver, and we look forward to his future with our team. We are working hard to find funding support to give him more opportunities behind the wheel."

Truex said this will be the first time he has ever raced his older brother at Bristol.

"It's going to be cool," Ryan Truex said. "I'm sure my parents will be on the edge of their seats."

Ryan's dad, Martin Sr., is a former NASCAR driver himself and more used to the action and excitement than Linda, the brothers' mother.

"My poor mom is going to be sweating bullets the whole race," Ryan said with a laugh. "I'll be thinking about her and making sure I don't do anything to make her too nervous."

Contact John O’Kane:

609-272-7210