E3 Sponsorship Profile: Ruben Garcia Jr. - NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
As the summertime heat warms up, so too has the 2019 racing season. And while many are drawn to TV’s top-leaguers in NASCAR, so too are many hometown fans drawn to their local tracks enjoying the adrenaline rush of horsepower and future superstars heading for the spotlight in Cup racing. With recent departures of names like Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Danica and the long list of others to follow, the openings are being filled by some of the most talented driving professionals that have come up through the ranks of NASCAR’s vigorous ‘training’ programs. And the good news is you don’t have to venture very far to see the progress in action.
From upstarts to the Xfinity series, NASCAR has built a series of pre-Cup-programs succeeding in both training and preparing, as well as fortifying the sport of stock car racing for generations into the future. In between the beginners and the pros, sits the NASCAR K&N Pro Series where the spectacle is brought to the home tracks of NASCAR fans across the country. Even aligning with a few of the Cup superspeedway events, the next generation of NASCAR superstars are hard at work honing their skills, competing for wins, and scrappin’ it out to earn the highest accolades in the K&N series. Included in the fun is Ruben Garcia Jr. (Mexico City, Mexico).
Ruben started racing go-karts as a child at five years old. Seven years later he climbed in the driver’s seat for his first NASCAR race. Ruben recalls that racing started off as just some fun when his father would take him to the track on the weekends. “My dad used to race,” says Ruben. “And any weekend he wasn’t racing, he would take me to the track with my car. It was a lot of fun, and then I remember the moment in my first stock car race. I was 14 years old and I had jumped in the car, competing against others. That’s when I knew I wanted to do this for a living.”
Ruben began his professional pursuits in the NASCAR Mexico Development Series in 2010. Through the ranks, he has also chased the checkered in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, and a bit of racing in the NASCAR Xfinity series as well. Currently he drives the NO. 6 UTI/NTI/Max Siegel Inc. Toyota Camry for Rev Racing (Concord, NC) in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Ruben notes that the K&N car is a more sophisticated car with the amount of adjustments you can make. The series cars are bigger and more powerful, with more speed. “It handles different,” says Jr. “You really have to change your mindset when jumping into the K&N car. It’s similar to an Xfinity car and it took me a few races just to adapt and to begin understanding how the K&N car really works.” In preparation for his future sanctions, Garcia Jr. recognizes that the K&N racing and the car itself are the ‘baby’ versions of the Cup cars. “It’s fast enough to experience the speed,” he says, “and it has the aero design that we actually feel what you always hear everyone else mention with drafting and dirty air scenarios.”
Also in their growth and education comes the opportunity to experience the big tracks too. With the cars emulating the designs of the higher ranks, experiencing the seat time in the superspeedways provides an integral degree of training as well. Ruben notes that tracks like Dover, Gateway and Iowa truly teach the skill of aerodynamics. “On the short tracks,” he says, “you rarely experience air effects. You can barely tell. But in these places its huge. We have to work to get better air when we are racing. In the big tracks, we feel the turbulence and the suction from the car in front of us. Those races are very good experience – because that’s all we will be talking about when we move up. K&N racing is a good school to get a feeling for what is to come, and gain some experience before we move up to the Cup series.”
NASCAR Cup drivers Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are a few of the drivers that Ruben recognizes having passed through the K&N Series prior. “These guys are great examples of training in this series, and then moving up through the pack very fast once they made it to Cup,” says the ambitious driver. “There are a LOT of really good drivers that came up through this series, and we all look up to them as our heroes.”
Following in some of their footsteps, Garcia Jr. likewise is racking up accolades in his racing career as well. A few of his career highlights include a 2018 golden helmet award in the Mexican FIA, as well as Driver of the Year award in K&N. Other high points include:
- 2018: Finished 3rd in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points, with
two wins, four top 5s and nine top 10 finishes.
- 2018 NASCAR Peak Mexico Series Champion.
- 2017: Finished 5th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points, with
three top 5s, nine top 10s and one pole at Iowa Speedway.
- NASCAR Next Class of 2016.
- NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2016 and 2017.
- 2015 NASCAR Peak Mexico Series Champion.
- Spokesperson for Phoenix International Raceway since 2015.
- NASCAR Mexico Series Runner-up in 2014.
- Youngest Mexican driver to debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2014.
- NASCAR Toyota Series Rookie of the Year in 2012.
- NASCAR Stock V6 Champion in 2011.
Ruben’s 2019 season is a busy one, as a full-time driver in both the Mexico series as well as the K&N series. “Things couldn’t be going better in Mexico,” says Ruben. “We are leading points and we have been on the podium for every single race including one of them as a win already.” Ruben notes that in the states however, they are still looking for their speed. “We were involved in a very dumb accident in the first lap, in Bristol, which was very disappointing. I know we are going to be good on some of the upcoming tracks though, where we perform really well. We won in Memphis last year (the career win for Ruben outside of Mexico), Thompson we were really fast last year, and Watkins Glen will be one of our best shots to win.” Ruben is currently 9th in points to date in the K&N series.
Perhaps in the future 2019 races, Ruben will change to different underwear? Yes, we said underwear! “I’m not extremely superstitious,” chuckles Ruben, “I just get ready through the week with my coaches in mental and physical training, eating well and staying in shape. But I do buy a new set of underwear at the beginning of the season, specifically for my racing. I wear the same underwear for every race!”
Also helping get Ruben down the track, are E3 ‘Diamond Fire’ spark plugs and wires, as spec components in all of the motors within the K&N series.
Rob Fisher, E3 Spark Plugs and Ignition Systems V.P. of Motorsports notes that, “Our participation in the NASCAR K&N Series is not just an initiative from the executive office of the company, but it’s more so an initiative to support our youth and help grow our sport into the future. Just like we invest in our own children in their schools, we are investing in the youth of NASCAR, to help perpetuate the thrills and the excitement of one of the most popular sports in the world. We are thrilled to be a part of the K&N series and it’s a joy watching our future superstars evolve and grow into their own, on the track and off.”
Ironically, could Ruben have started a new trend in K&N racing? Last year when his car was wrapped in E3 sponsorship at Memphis, Ruben won his first series race. This year his teammate Chase Cabre was wrapped in E3 sponsorship at Memphis, and Chase won his first series race. Has Ruben kicked off a new movement in K&N!? Time will tell!