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Ryan Sieg’s crew chief shares secrets to early success in Xfinity Series

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What started off as a pleasant surprise this year has become the norm for Ryan Sieg Racing in the Xfinity Series.

Through eight races, Ryan Sieg and his No. 39 Chevrolet have yet to finish worse than 12th.

The team based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, has an average finish of 8.6, sixth-best among series regulars.

Heading into the second off-weekend of the year for the Xfinity Series, Sieg is probably still cleaning up from the Larry’s Hard Lemonade shower he received after he placed fifth last Friday at Richmond.

According to veteran crew chief Shane Wilson, the second non-superspeedway top five of Sieg’s career was made possible by what Sieg didn’t do a month earlier at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

By not tearing up their short-track car at Phoenix, it allowed the team to take that car’s setup and add Richmond-specific tweaks that “worked out pretty good,” Wilson said Tuesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Late Shift.”

Sieg has kept his cars clean so far, finishing on the lead lap in every race but one (Bristol, 12th) and earning five top 10s. That’s the most in his seven-year, 133-race Xfinity career.

Shane Wilson has been heading Ryan Sieg’s surprise run in 2019. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Two weeks before Richmond, Sieg captured the first stage win of his career by not pitting late in Stage 2 at Texas Motor Speedway.

What Wilson has accomplished with the family owned team is a product of a late union and a “big departure” from what Wilson was used to just a few years ago with Richard Childress Racing.

Wilson, who last year was crew chief for Kaz Grala’s upstart Fury Race Cars, was hired a couple of weeks before Speedweeks in Daytona.

Since then, Wilson wakes up every Monday around 3:45 a.m. at his home in the Charlotte area and drives around 200 miles to the team’s shop in Sugar Hill, Georgia.

“Most times I get home by Wednesday night and then we go race,” Wilson said. “That’s kind of been my schedule so far. A little here, a little there. I chase parts in the Charlotte area, Mooresville some days. It gets me home a little quicker. There’s a few of us that make the trip down here and they have a nice little, kind of like a college dorm up above the shop and some of us stay there. It’s been fun. It’s different, it’s fun and it’s been challenging.”

Another part of Sieg’s surprise performance this year are the cars he’s been keeping unscathed. The team bought three new cars from RCR in the offseason.

“We had the ECR engine deal and it was good year to buy cars from RCR because they downsized from numerous Xfinity cars to a single car,” Wilson said. “I feel like we got good stuff.

“It’s a good relationship. The Siegs bought or leased engines from RCR for many years ever since they’ve been racing in the Truck Series. So they’re a good engine customer to ECR, bought a lot of chassis from Richard. That’s kind of where it stops. There’s a few different tiers that you can get nowadays and we don’t get simulation or any kind of parts tracking or the database or anything like that.

“Chevrolet helps us with a few tools. We have what we need and we don’t have a whole lot extra, but we have enough to compete.”

Wilson said recruiting talent to help out the small team is made easier with fewer Xfinity teams.

But he’s not just getting help from the North Carolina and Georgia areas.

“I got a good friend of mine doing our shocks now and shipped some more of those up to him in Vermont,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the experience reminds him of the days “when we volunteered and helped out our best friend.”

“Ryan has some experience, so he’s very helpful,” Wilson added. “His feedback is good now that we have current cars, good engines. More people working on it. We’re able to put up more of a fight at the race track.”

Josh Bilicki to compete full-time in Xfinity Series for Ryan Sieg Racing

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Josh Bilicki has joined Ryan Sieg Racing to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series this season.

Bilicki will drive the No. 38 Chevrolet and be sponsored by Dr. Squatch Soap Co. for the Feb. 16 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Bilicki has 38 Xfinity starts since 2016 but has never competed in every race in a season. He competed in 29 of 33 races last year.

“I’m very thankful to R.S.S. Racing for this opportunity,” Bilicki said in a press release. “Last year was a learning year for me, especially seeing and driving fifteen of the tracks for the first time. I feel comfortable at every track now, and R.S.S. has cars and equipment capable of finishing upfront, which excites me. I’ve been around the team a handful of times and I think that this is a natural fit. I’m equally just as excited to be bringing a brand-new partner into NASCAR, Dr. Squatch Soap Co.! One hundred percent of the company’s products are made right here in the United States, and I feel that’s a very important stat for the NASCAR community.”

Bilicki joins a driver roster that includes Ryan Sieg and 2000 Xfinity champion Jeff Green.

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Owner Rod Sieg

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If you’re ever trying to spot Rod Sieg in the Xfinity Series garage, just look for the man full of energy and radiating positivity.

Sieg is the owner of Ryan Sieg Racing and the No. 39 car, driven by his son, Ryan. The family-owned business has been successful in NASCAR, moving from the Camping World Truck to Xfinity Series. They are one race away from qualifying for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase.

Ryan sits 12th on the Chase grid entering Chicago this weekend. As for Rod, whether the team makes the playoffs, one would be hard-pressed to find him not having fun.

“Nobody comes to the racetrack to finish last, do they?” Sieg asks NBC Sports. “Life has been good. I’ve had fun, and everywhere I go I have fun. I don’t want to be in a bad mood. Even after Bristol (where Ryan finished 37th) I didn’t get upset – we just left early, and it was a quiet ride home.”

Sieg’s life in business started in 1982 when he and his father-in-law, Colie Wilson, co-founded S&W Towing. Based out of Tucker, Georgia, where the family originates, Wilson was the one who had an affinity for racing, which rubbed off on Sieg.

“We’d race go-karts and all that stuff, and then we bought some Late Models and got into those then decided to go Truck racing,” Sieg said. “We were going to run Trucks and Xfinity, and heck we ran so good we were like, ‘Why are we going to go Truck racing when we can go over here?’ That’s how it just goes, and it’s been an easy progression.”

Sieg has fielded entries in NASCAR since 2009. And just like the sport, he admits he lives his life at full-throttle.

“That’s the only way to live, isn’t it?”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: Is the team shop still based in Georgia at the S&W Towing location?

Sieg: It was until this last year. I could walk out back from my office and go to the garage and work right in the garage. But it got too small. We’ve moved to a different location and run a business out of there that is a towing service, but we built a big warehouse up there. It’s pretty nice now.

NBC Sports: How much did your father-in-law influence your decision to get into racing?

Sieg: My wife’s dad raced dirt, and I worked for a guy named Randy Couch when I was like 16, 17, 18 and he was an All-Pro champion. Ever since then we’ve been racing, and he even came over to the shop and helped us work on our Late Model cars when we ran around the Southeast. I actually tried to deter Ryan from racing; I sent him down to a guy named Wayne Anderson in Florida and said go with him. I called Wayne and said ‘I want you to be as brutal as you can on him,’ and Wayne treated him awful. Ryan would say, ‘We worked on Wayne’s cars all day, and we’d push mine out for 30 minutes, and I’d have to race Wayne.’ He’d follow him to the track, and that’s how he really got into it. He actually did good as Wayne told him, just follow me around.

Wayne Anderson raced for a long time and he was in Late Models out of Florida and Ryan would drive back and forth from Florida to our house every week, and did it by himself. I was wanting him to quit because people don’t understand how hard racing is from week to week, and he was determined to do it. I was trying to be mean as I could, I really was.

NBC Sports: Is it difficult to be both the owner of the race team and the father of the driver?

Sieg: I treat him like I would any other driver. I don’t cut him any slack, but I don’t really say much. We’ve been racing so long you don’t get real high or real low. Daytona (when Ryan finished third) I got real high! That was a high point. When you get through Daytona, and you can finish it, it’s always a good day because we’ve had two bad years of bad luck down there. Running good, but just got caught up in a wreck. Boy, when you can finish one, it just tickles you to death.

NBC Sports: Do you just oversee the operation when you come to the track or do you get involved?

Sieg: I’ll do anything they ask me. I’ll jump in and pick up tires and put them on if that’s what I need to do. I want everybody to be in a good mood because you know what, one gets in a bad mood, everybody gets in a bad mood.

NBC Sports: What is your approach or philosophy for business, seeing that you run two different ones?

Sieg: I just treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I mean, we got a guy that does nothing but polish the car, and I treat him the same way I treat the crew chief.

NBC Sports: Is the current business model in the Xfinity Series sustainable to a small team like yours?

Sieg: We’ll have to see. We haven’t got that far yet. I take it a year at a time, a race at a time. We prepare our car a week in advance, and some of these guys have their cars prepared months in advance. We haven’t mapped out anything for the future.

NBC Sports: With as outgoing and energetic as you are, do you have any other hobbies besides racing?

Sieg: We go up to the lake house all the time, I have a lake house in Georgia. We have jet skis and boats and all that and I’m constantly doing things that nearly kill me. (Crew chief Kevin Starland) rented a campsite once and we have two jet skis that are real fast, and I came in about 70 miles-per-hour and wide open. There were rocks there on the coast, and I turned the wheel real hard, and I flipped about five times. I was hiding under the water cause the jet ski flipped and they’re all running out screaming, ‘Rod, Rod, Rod!’ and I jumped out saying, I’m all right!

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Ryan Sieg to pay tribute to Dale Jarrett with Darlington throwback scheme

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Ryan Sieg Racing announced Monday that it will honor Dale Jarrett with its throwback scheme in the Sept. 3 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway on NBC.

Ryan Sieg’s No. 39 car will be made to look like the car Jarrett drove to the 1999 Winston Cup championship for Robert Yates Racing.

Sieg is 12th in the Xfinity standings, holding the final transfer spot to the Chase with four races left before the playoff field is set. He has a 15-point advantage on Ross Chastain heading into this weekend’s race at Road America.