Little-known rookie driver Ray Black Jr. turning heads in Truck Series
With only seven previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts under his belt, rookie Ray Black Jr. was able to kick off the 2015 season in a big way last weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 07 SS Green Light Racing Chevrolet was able to avoid the big wreck on the backstretch and made a bold last-lap move to cross the line fifth in the season-opening race.
After Black brought the truck home in one piece and inside the top five, interest in the 24-year-old driver began to grow.
"It’s really been a great week," Black told FOXSports.com Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "As far as sponsorships, we’ve been talking to a few of them and have gotten more exposure on TV. We’ve had more fans come out and supported us all. It’s really been a huge, huge week for us."
Black is optimistic the top-five run will continue to draw interest from even more sponsors, and that he can can continue to impress with more solid runs throughout the season.
Not only did the top-five run go a long way in bringing about new interest from potential sponsors, it also provided a boost of confidence for the entire organization.
"I can’t really explain it," he said. "The whole week they were just happy, full of smiles, and excited. Then to come here in the first practice and try to knock the wall down, it’s definitely an up-and-down deal right now."
During Friday’s first practice session, his No. 07 Chevrolet made contact with the outside wall, causing Black’s team to thrash to make repairs.
Despite the setback, the Palm Coast, Florida native is optimistic the team can continue to improve and learn throughout the remainder of the 2015 season.
"We’re going to keep striving for top 15s and top 10s; I think we’ll get them with my experience," he said. "The team learning how I drive, and me learning how to drive the tracks, I think everything will come to a point where it will start clicking."
A newcomer to the series, Black is proud to work with veteran team owner Bobby Dotter.
"When he speaks, you listen," Black said. "In addition, he is continuing to get used to the increased spotlight the Camping World Truck Series brings.
"The biggest thing right now is that everything is magnified," he said. "The aero is such a big play in this type of racing, and it’s definitely a lot to learn. Unfortunately when something bad happens, it really takes a hit. You can’t go out and wipe the dust off. It takes a while."
As he continues to learn and adapt to running the Camping World Truck Series, Black has turned to some of the biggest names in the series to help with his learning curve, but also seeks the advice of his own team.
"Matt Crafton helps out a lot with the rookies, so it’s cool to bounce stuff off him," Black said of the reigning and two-time series champion. "Timothy Peters, I’ve talked to here and there. Mostly I work with my team — they always give pretty good insight. But my spotter is really the biggest one I turn to. Stevie Reeves, he’s great in everything he does. He tells me the lines I should be running, he’s really informative, and it’s great to bounce things off of him."