Ryan Truex feeling at home with Hattori Racing
Since 2008, Ryan Truex has been grinding his way through NASCAR’s top tours searching for the right opportunity.
Given the ease with which his brother Martin climbed through the stock car ranks, Truex wasn’t prepared for how difficult breaking through into the bigs would be. Since his rookie and sophomore season in the K&N Pro Series East in 2009-2010, the 25-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey, native hasn’t landed a full-time deal.
The family atmosphere at Hattori Racing
That changed this season with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Truex says the family atmosphere makes the race team feel like home.
“I’m just way more comfortable,” Truex told Motorsport.com. “When I don’t have to worry about who I’m driving for next week or if I’m driving next week, I can focus a lot more. I’ve had the same guys all year — which I haven’t had that either. I’ve had (crew chief) Scott Zipadelli all year, so we’ve been able to work really hard on our relationship. He’s learned a lot about me and what I need, and I’ve learned how to explain that to him.
“Honestly, right off the bat we hit it off. We both have the same mentality. It’s just nice. It’s just comfortable. It’s made my job so much easier to just show up and worry about the truck and race know that I’m going to be there and that we’re going to have fast trucks each weekend.”
Truex is currently eighth in CWTS standings after six top-10 finishes and a pair of fourth-place results at Charlotte and Texas. He’s grateful for team owner Shigeaki Hattori’s support and the evolution of trucks his team continues to produce — including the new chassis HRE brought for this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. He was ninth on the speed chart in first and final practice on Friday.
“I know how hard my team is working,” Truex said. “We’re constantly building new stuff. Our last truck that we’ve been running — chassis 05, that we ran four or five races in a row and had all of our top fives and top 10s in — we destroyed that at Kentucky. That’s a show truck now.
“That kind of put us behind the eight ball, being a smaller team. We only had five trucks. This is the sixth one and it’s the only one we want to take to the track because we know how good it is. We just keep trying to build, get better and revamp. At the same time we have to stay within our funding, what we have within our budget.”
Working with Zipadelli
That’s why Truex feels fortunate to have Zipadelli on his side. The veteran crew chief has learned to do a lot with a little and enjoyed significant success with Red Horse Racing last season before moving to Hattori Racing. Truex worked with Zipadelli at Robby Benton Racing in 2012 and appreciates a crew chief that spends as much time in the fabrication shop and he does on his computer setting up the trucks.
Zipadelli also understands the challenges of living in a famous racing brother’s shadow. His brother Greg won two championships with Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing and now oversees the competition department for Stewart-Haas Racing. Before Zipadelli took the job with HRE, he and Truex discussed putting sibling rivalry behind them and racing for themselves.
“I think there’s always something like that,” Zipadelli said. “It doesn’t bother me any more. The sport is the sport, and I am who I am. We’re two completely different people and want completely different things out of life. I think Ryan, being younger, he’s still going through a lot of that. He doesn’t need to put added pressure on himself. He just needs to be Ryan and the results will come.
“But I think it’s been great. As far as Ryan is concerned he’s very engaged he’s willing to do anything he can to help. Changing the way he drives, studying the data, doing whatever he can to help. It’s been a lot of work by everyone on the team but the rewards have been tremendous.”
Truex says the addition of Zipadelli has revitalized the team. He’s also reunited with GM Mike Greci, who was his father’s crew chief in the Busch North Series and lived across the street from the Truex family in New Jersey before moving to North Carolina. HRE has created an environment for Truex where he can thrive.
“Honestly, my team feels more like a family than anything,” Truex said. “It’s all guys I’ve worked with before…it’s kind of got an old school feel to it where everyone works really hard and wants to be there and builds on each other.”
As for his brother Martin’s accomplishment, Truex doesn’t look at it as added pressure. He prefers to use his sibling’s success as motivation instead. He’s witnessed his brother’s ups and downs over the last decade before settling into a championship caliber situation at Furniture Row Racing.
“It’s taken him 10 years in Cup for the stars to all align,” Truex said. “So when I look at my career and how I’ve kind of jumped around — starting my career, I kind of moved up through the series. I was able to run well, win races and move up quickly. Then I hit the Xfinity Series at the wrong time. I didn’t have the sponsorship to run full-time. That was 2010. I was 18. I’m 25 now. I’ve been racing in NASCAR for seven years and I’m finally full-time.
“So seeing (Martin) go through all of that and 10 years later, finally get what he needed to be a contender for a championship motivates me. It keeps me comfortable knowing that I’ve time. I’m still young. I know it takes time to find that perfect combination. Some guys have it easier. Some guys have it harder. There’s been a few more bumps in the road for me but it definitely motivates me seeing what he’s gone through and it will be so much sweeter when I finally do succeed and make it to the Cup level."
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