By: Kobe Lambeth
On April 24, 2016, Ryan Ellis will fulfill a long-time dream driving for Ron Devine’s BK Racing team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Richmond International Raceway.
“The deal with BK is something we’ve been working on for several years,” said Ellis.
“Ron Devine and I have been friends for quite a while because we’ve grown up in the same area – Northern Virginia. I knew it would always help to have a bit of sponsorship coming in, and ScienceLogic and I have meshed very well. I am very excited to have brought them together and I really hope we get to run some more races this season and can works towards a full schedule in 2017.”
Ellis made his Sprint Cup debut last season at Phoenix International Raceway where he finished 40th driving for Circle Sport Racing. Despite the finish, there is plenty for Ellis to look forward to as the Trucks and Xfinity Series veteran is ready to take on the best stock car drivers in the world.
“I think my experience in Xfinity and Truck benefits me in many ways,” said Ellis.
“Obviously, it helps to have driven similar cars in the past and learning the way they react to certain inputs is beneficial when getting in the Cup car. As different as they are with suspension-travel, power, aero-wise, and overall handling, they are still very close in nature. It helps to have driven these tracks before so I can focus on learning the Cup car and all of the new features they have. I’ve never driven a Cup car with adjustable track-bar and never used the new dash system.”
Despite new features on his No. 93 ScienceLogic BK Racing Toyota Camry, Ellis is ready for the challenge of competing on Sundays and proving that he belongs in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
“I think I’m in a great position with BK Racing with their new equipment and the people they already had, and the people they’ve brought in,” said Ellis.
“Ron has made some great changes to put everyone in a phenomenal position this year and the results have shown that. I want to soak up as much as I can from Matt Dibenedetto and David Ragan. They’re two very different people and two very different racecar drivers. David is a veteran who is very calm and reserved and been everywhere in the NASCAR garage. Matt is a hungry second-year driver who drives on the ragged-edge every lap. I think I can learn off of their contrasting personalities and driving styles and work my butt off to prove that I belong in the Sprint Cup garage.”
Ryan Ellis has a tight bond with his BK Racing teammate, Matt DiBenedetto.
“We’re both very racing-oriented and career-focused so we definitely find that 90% or more of our conversation is racing-based, but can definitely disconnect from that as well,” said Ellis.
“We live about an hour away from each other but the two of us, Tanner Berryhill, and Alex Bowman tend to find time to hang out. I’ll be moving closer to Tanner Berryhill soon so I have a feeling we’ll be spending a ton more time getting into trouble. It’s great to have close friends in this sport because I knew absolutely no one when I moved to NC a few years ago.”
If Ellis has a spectacular season for BK Racing, could he possibly move to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2017?
“It’s hard to say,” said Ellis
“The charter-deal has changed the landscape in Cup so much. I would like to think we could do it, but I’m not involved much on the financial side. It’s definitely something in the back of my mind for sure.”
36 full-time Sprint Cup teams were awarded prestigious Charters, which allow these teams to race every week without the fear of having to qualify on time. However, the third BK Racing entry does not have a charter, so they are not guaranteed a spot in the race if there are more than 40 cars on the entry list. Ryan Ellis had plenty to say about the new Charter System.
“The charter system has changed the landscape in Cup quite a bit,” said Ellis.
“Not as much in the front of the pack, but more-so for the lower-funded or up and coming teams. A year or two ago, our ScienceLogic deal could’ve led to more of a full-season deal or much more, but it isn’t a financially sustainable business model (for most people) to run a non-chartered car without a substantial budget or massive amounts of sponsorship.”
It appears that the Charter System is hurting the smaller teams in NASCAR. Despite the challenge, Ryan Ellis definitely has the potential to overcome every obstacle in his way. Previously, on “The Troubles of Making It as a Race Car Driver Part Two,” Ryan Ellis told me about his struggles making it to the top levels of stock car racing. It is absolutely exceptional that Ellis has come a long way and not let his financial struggles stop him from achieving his dreams. According to Ellis, it is extremely difficult to survive in NASCAR if you do not have significant financial support.
” It makes everything hard,” said Ellis
“You want to focus harder on your career but there are many times when you’re not making enough from the NASCAR-side to even pay rent and food. If you take away focus and work side-jobs like I have over the last three or four years, it can affect your ability to work on sponsorships and get more races. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong way to stay in the sport, but I’ve been very fortunate to get the opportunities I’ve had. A lot of these drivers are very lucky in that they have the family support to buy a top ride for a few million dollars, but I see my situation as a blessing. I think my position creates a situation where I’m never comfortable, and by never being comfortable, I’m forced to out-work them by a ton to counter their money and/or huge connections. I have great friends and family who help me and have helped me financially from time to time to stay afloat, and without them, I would’ve been forced to give up on this goal a few years ago.”
“The Troubles of Making It as a Race Car Driver Part Two” Starring: Ryan Ellis