The fact that Stafford Township's Ryan Truex will be driving in NASCAR's biggest race - the Daytona 500 - hasn't really set in yet.
"Racing full time is pretty tough - first of all - and such a huge deal for me, and making it to the top level of motor sports in America is enough of an accomplishment in itself," Truex said in a phone interview Tuesday, a day after BK Racing announced that the 21-year-old will drive the No. 83 car full time in the Sprint Cup series.
"But being able to run the Daytona 500 and race at Darlington and Bristol and places like that, places with so much history is just really special. And it will be even cooler racing alongside my brother."
Truex is the younger brother of Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex Jr., who joined Furniture Row Racing this past October and will drive the No. 78 car.
Borla Exhaust will be on Ryan's car for the season debut at Daytona on Feb. 23, but will likely not be his full-time sponsor all year. Truex said more sponsorship deals are in the works, and added that Dr. Pepper and Burger King will likely sponsors his car throughout the year along with Borla.
"I think the most refreshing thing about this deal is they didn't come to me asking for money, they didn't see how much funding I have," Ryan said. "They hired me because of what I'm able to do on the race track, and what I accomplished and what they think we can accomplish together. I think that's really a good thing to be proud of for me, and it just feels really good."
Ryan certainly has struggled with funding the last couple of years. He hasn't raced a full season since 2010 when he won K&N East Series titles in back-to-back years. Since then, he's driven in a handful of Nationwide and Sprint Cup races for different organizations.
His best Nationwide finish came at Dover in 2012 when he finished second. He made his Sprint Cup debut with Phoenix Racing last August at Bristol, where he finished 42nd after completing only 39 laps. His second Sprint Cup start came at Richmond, where he completed 395 of the 400 laps and finished 35th. His best Sprint Cup result was a 32nd-place finish in September at Dover.
His development was also delayed last year when he broke his collarbone in April in a dirtbike fall near his family's home in Stafford Township.
Ryan went about a month or more between races. That lack of consistency really made it difficult to succeed when he could race.
"When you have that much time off it's hard to get back in a race car and just go fast and know the feel that you need to be as fast as guys like Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski and people like that," Ryan said. "Being able to run full time and be in a race car every weekend and just be around all the time is a really big step for me."
Ryan's father, Martin Truex Sr., a former NASCAR driver himself, believes that BK Racing is a perfect fit for his son. The team, based in Statesville, N.C., is entering its third year at the Sprint Cup level and also signed 20-year-old Alex Bowman to drive the No. 23 this season.
"He's not being put into a team that's a top five or top 10 where he has to go right off the start," Martin Truex Sr. said over the phone Tuesday. "I think it's a good fit for both of them. BK has a couple of young drivers and guys that are building with a new team, and I think it's a good fit."
Ryan, who is still under contract with Richard Petty Motorsports as part of a developmental deal he signed in June, will be a part of one of the largest rookie fields in recent years. The group includes Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Michael Annett, Justin Allgaier, Parker Klingerman and Cole Whitt.
"I've raced against just about every one of them in one series or another, so we're familiar with each other," Ryan said.
Racing against the deep field of rookies isn't the only focus for Ryan. He will also get the opportunity to race against his older brother on a full-time basis.
The Truex brothers have driven against each other only five times in a NASCAR series race - three in the Nationwide series and twice in Sprint Cup. Martin bested Ryan all five times.
With his lack of success against his older brother, Ryan said there won't be any side bets any time soon between the two. But that won't stop him from gaining valuable experience from Martin.
"It's going to be good for me to be able to walk a few pit stalls down and be able to talk to him about something," Ryan said.
"He's been to all these tracks. He knows the dos and don'ts, and those are things I'm still learning. And when I can go over and talk to him and lean on him a little bit, it really helps me out a lot."
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