Tyler Truex Focused on What May Be Ahead After Scoring First Modified Victory at Wall

Sep 05, 2018
Courtesy of: James Smith Tyler Truex shows who was the No. 1 driver in the Modified stock division at Wall Stadium Speedway on Sept. 1.

Like many others in his family, Tyler Truex grew up with race cars and race tracks. Wall Stadium Speedway is almost a second home to him. And for as long as he’s been alive, Jimmy Blewett has been among the best drivers at Wall, a Modified stock division champion many times over.

On Saturday, Sept. 1, the youngest Truex outraced Blewett on the third-of-a-mile asphalt oval for the first time.

“I started second and led every lap to take the win,” Truex said. “I was able to pull enough of a gap early in the race, and by the time he got to second he was out of tires and time. I had one restart with Steven Reed to my outside. I held him off, then Jimmy got him and tried to run me down but couldn’t. It feels great to get that monkey off my back.”

Sponsored by Dover Contracting and racing the No. 69 car his older brother, Curtis Truex Jr., used to drive at Wall, Tyler made the switch to the Modifieds this year after winning the Sportsman championship last season. Of course, moving into the Modified division meant he would be taking on some of the best drivers Wall has ever known. Besides Blewett, Chas Okerson, Steve Reed and Andrew Krause have been near the top of the list for years.

Still, Blewett has been the top target for a long time now.

“If you want to be at the top of the Modified standings, you have to beat Blewett to get there,” Truex said. “I’ve been watching the guy race for about as long as I’ve been alive. He’s usually the guy everybody’s chasing. And there’s a reason why he’s always at the top; he’s good at what he does and he’s clever.”

Up until Saturday evening, Truex has had reasonable success at Wall this season. Heading into the 40-lap feature, he was in the sixth position with 360 points, only 19 points behind Okerson and 78 shy of Eric Mauriello. Blewett was way out in front with 635, while Krause and Reed occupied the second and third spots with 546 and 516 points, respectively.

“I’m not doing too bad,” Truex said. “I’ve had some mishaps and a few engine problems, and two weeks in a row I got two flat tires during warmups and had to forfeit my starting spots. But when the car has been good and I’ve run well, there was Blewett, always racing near the front. He’s very good at taking over late in a race.”

Not this time around, and now that sets up Truex for a strong finish for the remainer of the season, with Modified races scheduled for Sept. 8, 15 and 29 and the season finale on Oct. 6.

Of course, beyond that, many questions will be asked. Should Truex return to Wall for another season? Should he try to latch onto a team elsewhere in an effort to climb the professional ranks? What’s next, exactly?

And all of those questions don’t have easy answers. No doubt, he’s going to race cars somewhere. The where part is the hinge point.

“Two years ago when I was running a Legend car in Charlotte, that was awesome and I’d definitely do it again,” said the 22-year-old from the Mayetta section of Stafford Township. “I’d love to have a sponsor take me for an ARCA race, so I could show them what I can do. There are all kinds of options. And, of course, the ultimate goal is to be where my cousins, Martin and Ryan, are, racing at the highest levels. But the truth is those deals are hard to come by. Sometimes, you have to be in the right place at the right time.”

Obviously, having a connection to Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR’s defending Cup Series champion, and Ryan Truex, who races full-time in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, Tyler’s chances of getting noticed are slightly higher than the average driver who doesn’t have a family legacy of racing excellence. But Tyler is fully aware those chances to get noticed truly are only slight.

“Finding the right ride and the funding to make it happen are the two X-factors,” he said. “You can be the best driver in the world, but if you don’t have the money and the cars to stay out there and constantly do it, you’re not going to be able to do it. It costs a lot of money to keep doing this a lot and at the highest levels. Even now, without Dover Contracting, I might not be racing at Wall.

“But in this sport, you have to work your way to the top by paying your dues and getting a few breaks to showcase your talent in big races. You can’t expect the big teams in the business to just make an investment for somebody who’s untested. And to get tested, you have to get some breaks along the way.”

Unfortunately, very few drivers from this region of the country – particularly because it’s no longer an auto racing hub and most of the bigger tracks aren’t around here – are hand-picked to drive in any significant events. And at some point, Tyler may have to make a move farther south, as his cousins did, if he wants to make a larger impact in the racing world.

“It’s a pretty good fact – the top-caliber kids go down South, most of the time with nothing more than their helmet and fire suit,” Truex said. “And the competition is tough. Trying to find somebody to race for is hard. But if I want to pursue racing at the higher levels, I’m probably going to have to go back to North Carolina or somewhere down that way.”

Good thing for Tyler, he is a Truex. Racing’s in the blood. But that doesn’t guarantee anything.

“I got that first win at Wall,” he said. “So now I just have to do that a couple more times, keep working the phones and trying to land something bigger, and seeing where my next break will come. I’m not giving up anything, that’s for dang sure. When I get the next chance to showcase my talents, I’m going to do it. That’s how it works – you get the opportunities and take them. And hopefully, I’ll get the break I need so I can start working my way to the top at some point.”

— David Biggy

 biggy@thesandpaper.net

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