Reed talks Talladega, XFINITY Chase, 2017
October 20, 2016
Roush Fenway Racing announced last month XFINITY Series driver Ryan Reed would attempt to make his Sprint Cup debut at Talladega Superspeedway. If Reed can qualify for the Hellmann’s 500 this Saturday, he will become the second driver to make their Sprint Cup debut this season (Dylan Lupton at Sonoma in June).
Saturday’s qualifying session will mark the first time since October 2014 Roush Fenway Racing has four cars on the entry list in the same event. Reed’s XFINITY Series crew chief Phil Gould will serve atop the pit box at Talladega.
Reed spoke exclusively with The Racing Experts about his chance to make Sunday’s race, his run for a championship in the XFINITY Series and 2017 plans.
Q. Talk about how deal came together and why Talladega was chosen.
Ryan Reed: “Yeah, I think my goal my whole life, is to be a Sprint Cup Series driver. A great time in the XFINITY Series the last couple years, and we’ve felt like when we started this deal, we wanted to figure out how to grow to the Sprint Cup Series, so this is kind of a huge step in that direction.
“It’s not just me saying I’m ready or the race team saying ‘Hey Ryan, I want you to be in the Sprint Cup Series.’
“We have partners with Lilly Diabetes and American Diabetes Association. Jack Roush is obviously very involved in that, I’m involved in it, but we were all excited about the opportunity, and we've had some success on the XFINITY side at the plate races.
“I think it's all about, just kind of help us, get all that in motion and just going that direction.”
Being a driver in a non-charter position, how much pressure and confidence do you have in making the race?
Reed: “I have all the confidence in the world. As long as the weather looks great.
“I know Roush Fenway’s going to being a really strong Ford Fusion down there for us to qualify in.
“...When there was group qualifying, there was probably a lot more pressure. Other than a good chance of it raining it out, I’m not too stressed about not making the show.”
What are some goals for you this weekend and what would make it a successful weekend?
Reed: “Honestly, I don’t feel a ton of pressure to down there and feel like it is a must-win situation for me. I don’t feel my whole career hinges on this opportunity.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me to get a lot of experience. For me, it's about running the whole race, logging all the laps, staying out of trouble.
How much will you be leaning on your teammates this weekend?
Reed: “A ton. Roush Fenway does a great job of having team meetings, where we all sit down and talks about the race car, talk about what’s going on; learn anything in practice, whether that’s setup or things that they’ve done inside the car, driving wise.
“There will be a lot of time to communicate and learn from each other.”
Q. What do 2017 plans hold for you and your sponsor?
Reed: “We’re working really hard on 2017. I feel confident in the direction that’s headed.
“But for right now, just really focused on the end of the season with the XFINITY Series.
“...With the guys back at Roush Fenway and the folks at Lilly and ADA, I know that they’ll work really hard, and really confident that we’ll continue our relationship.
“We’ve had a great relationship over the last few years, and, just looking forward to continue to grow that relationship.”
Q. What direction do your sponsors feel they want to go, whether that’s XFINITY or Sprint Cup?
Reed: “I think, the better the result we have, as we go down the stretch, obviously being in the championship hunt has excited everyone.
“My goal is to just go out there and be the best racecar driver I can be, manage my diabetes and take care of myself.
“...I want to ultimately be a Sprint Cup Series driver one day, but, 23 years old, I’m driving racecars for a living, so just having a blast right now, living the dream, and want to continue that.”
Q. How likely is it we’re going to see you competing for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year next season?
Reed: “I don’t know. Like I said, 2017 is so far away in my book, I’ve got a championship to run for. Right now, I want to beat [everyone] for the XFINITY Series championship, that’s more important to me than anything right now.
“2017 might as well be ten years away for me right now.”
Q. Has Jack Roush talked about putting you in the Cup Series next year?
Reed: “Me and Jack have talked a lot about the future and where we want to be. When I signed up with Jack, it was to be a development driver for him and ultimately be one of his Cup drivers.
“That’s what everyone’s working for and that’s what I’m day in and day out, working towards. Hopefully we can make that happen.”