The list of young and up-coming stars in NASCAR Xfinity 11th Annual U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway is long, with six of the nine 2018 NASCAR Next class being entered, highlighted by Ryan Vargas making his series debut. From La Mirada, California, the 18-year-old is driving the No. 15 JD Motorsports Cranio Care Bears Chevrolet. Also an alumni member of the Drive for Diversity program, Vargas is thankful, looking to make the most of all opportunities he is given.
“Being a part of NASCAR Next and NASCAR Drive for Diversity, those are both very respected and very honestly, historic groups of NASCAR,” says Ryan Vargas on being selected as a representative of the program. “The Diversity program has done such a good of getting the minority drivers, both male and female in the sport. To be a part of that last year was incredible. Heading into this year with the name NASCAR Next adds a little bit extra, I guess you could say excitement and adds a little bit of notoriety.”
Under the Drive for Diversity side, Vargas competed full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing, finishing sixth in points after compiling six Top-Ten finishes in 14 races. One of those was at Iowa Speedway, a seventh after starting tenth and why he chose this track to make his Xfinity Series debut.
“I honestly picked Iowa,” says Vargas on what track to make his first start. “It was kind of a date circled on my calendar for anything really, Truck, K&N, ARCA or even Xfinity. I knew that I performed well here in Iowa, ran inside the top-three before we got damage. I knew this place really fits my driving style and what I like. So far it’s proven well, we had a good qualifying effort and ran well in both the practices so I’m really excited to see how this race goes.”
The opportunity to drive with JD Motorsports has many levels and aspects to it but a big one was again about choice.
“Yeah, its huge you know,” says Vargas on the decision to run the No. 15 of JD Motorsports. “I knew right away when I decided we need to do Xfinity, I knew that Johnny (Davis) was the team to go with. I know their equipment isn’t the upper teams, it’s no Gibbs or Penske or JR (Motorsports) but at the same time, there’s a lot more opportunity here to go and make my name. And while also learning, learning how to save a race car and keep it in one piece.”
A large part of Ryan Vargas’s desire to make a name for himself and perform well is the sponsor he represents on a very personal level, Cranio Care Bears. This a non-profit organization that aims to spread awareness, support, and compassion to families that are dealing with craniosynostosis, a condition which causes brain and skull growth issues. Vargas dealt with a version of that condition from birth, fortunately being diagnosed early at 11 months and was correctable.
“It’s awesome,” says Vargas on being involved with the company that assists others with the same condition he suffered from. “Cranio Care Bears is an incredible organization. I’m really excited to have this car running in the Xfinity Series and showing what it can do because I know that craniosynostosis is very common. I mean it’s only one in every two to three thousand kids have it. Just yesterday, actually, the first fan I met, he had craniosynostosis. So you never know who’s going to be out there and it’s really cool to be able to be that role model for these kids.”
At this point, the Xfinity race is a one-race deal as Ryan Vargas continues to race late models and late model stocks, both out of Martinez Racing on the west coast. He is contending for the track championship at Irwindale Speedway with two victories already this season.