NCWTS Driver to Make Debut Start at Phoenix International Raceway
FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. (November 10, 2015) – It has been quite a journey for NASCAR driver Ray Black Jr. to go from racing at the local short tracks in his home state of Florida to competing on one of racing’s biggest stages in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). The driver of the No. 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet has had a lot of help during his racing career, and two key team members have been with him from the start — Rusty Ebersole and Francois “Frenchie” Pelletier.
Black first met Ebersole and Pelletier when he was around 13 years old and just getting his racing career started at one of his local tracks, Orlando Speed World.
“Frenchie and my dad got talking one day and they just clicked,” explained Black. “He knew the diving industry and actually went on some diving jobs with me. Ever since then, he has just been there for whatever or whenever we need him. Then with racing, it worked out well to have Frenchie travel with us to the Truck races to provide support. He was the perfect fit for the job!”
“Rusty had a couple of late-models in Florida, and we worked with him full-time before I took a small break from racing,” he continued. “When I decided to get back into it, he still had my cars so I called him up, we knocked the dust off and got back into the swing of things. He’s really a one-man show – he and I would travel to the short track races and he’d set everything up and crew chief for me. We won a lot of races together. Then we asked him if he wanted to come racing in NASCAR with us and he said yes.”
The two play a key role in Black’s racing success, as Pelletier and Ebersole both provide him different areas of support and guidance.
“Rusty is really good at keeping me calm out on the track,” Black said. “He’s great at giving me racing tips and reminds me to always go back to the basics. He’s like a translator in a lot of ways. He knows my racing style and knows how to explain changes to the car in a way that I’ll understand. He can then also help explain what I’m feeling to my team.”
“Frenchie is more of a life expert,” continued Black. “If I get upset or down about something, he’s there to help lift the mood and bring me back to reality. He reminds me a lot about how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. He’s a great motivator!”
Without the support of Ebersole and Pelletier, Black isn’t sure if he would have gotten to where is today or had as much fun while doing so.
“I don’t know. I’d like to think I would have still gotten to this level of competition but I can’t imagine going through this experience without them,” he stated. “I’ve really got a great support system right now and feel comfortable with where I am at. They have played a huge part in helping me succeed so early on in my career.”
As for Ebersole and Pelletier, who have extended their roles further as Black’s gas man and front tire carrier on the pit crew, they had nothing but praise for Black and how far he has come.
“I watched him from the Mini Cup to the Pro Trucks to the Late Models to Super Late Models to this,” said Pelletier. “Seeing him adapt to the different levels of racing is really exciting. I’m carrying tires for him now – when I am going to be able to do that again? We were originally here to look after him and make sure he stays focused and has things go his way. Then when we saw a need for us to go over the wall and help him progress even further, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ll do whatever we can to help him out.”
“It has been great,” Ebersole added. “Seeing him have a dream and work hard to fulfill that dream and watching the success he has had is awesome. Just being able to watch him do that is amazing. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here.”
The trio now looks ahead to the second to last NCWTS race, as the series is headed to Phoenix International Raceway. Black has yet to race at the one-mile track that is known for its unique dogleg.
“I’ve never been there and never raced at a track that has a dogleg before,” said Black. “It might be a little racey there with that in the track, so it should be fun. It’s a different style of track than I’ve ever raced at before. I may be able to use my experience racing at Gateway, especially turns three and four, to help me adjust, but it will still be a completely new experience. “
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Coverage of the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway will begin at 8:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 on Friday, November 13. MRN will also be providing live radio coverage of the event.