St. Louis, Mo. – It took only half a race for No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Ryan Truex to claw his way into the top-10 in his first NASCAR Nationwide Series appearance.
The 2009 K&N Pro Series East Champion and 2010 points leader impressed competitors and fans at Gateway International Raceway on Saturday night charging from mid-pack to as high as eighth before an accident in the closing laps ended his night.
He finished 28th.
"Man that was a lot of fun until I spun out," said the 18-year-old. "I was really surprised how well we ran. I didn’t know if we would run that well. NAPA and my crew made all this happen. I just drive. I have a lot to learn but that started tonight. I was having fun out there."
Truex, the son of Martin Sr. and brother of Martin Jr., qualified 18th then stormed into the top 10 at the race’s halfway mark.
With just 22 laps remaining, Truex lost control of his car and slapped the wall.
He parked the heavily damaged Diamond-Waltrip Racing car after the accident, but drove the final few laps in the No. 20 Toyota in relief of Matt DiBenedetto who was involved in an earlier accident.
Truex returns to Nationwide Series competition at Michigan on Aug. 14.
"Next time will be more about racing," Truex said. "This weekend was getting in the field and learning."
Despite track temperatures over 135 degrees, fans enjoyed an entertaining race and even better finish.
Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski made contact on the front stretch coming to the checkered flag. Edwards survived the contact and claimed the victory.
Keselowski hit the wall and was struck by another car then credited with a 14th-place finish. Michael Waltrip Racing driver Trevor Bayne slipped through the melee to finish a career-best third.
The Nationwide Series returns to action Saturday night at Raceway Park in Indianapolis.