Amy Henderson · Friday October 11, 2013
Roush Fenway Racing announced on Friday that the organization, which currently fields three Sprint Cup and two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams, will add 20-year-old ARCA racer Ryan Reed to its stable beginning in 2014. Reed will pilot the No. 16 Ford full-time in Nationwide, with sponsorship from Lilly Diabetes and the America Diabetes Association’s Drive to Stop Diabetes initiative. Reed will compete for Rookie Of the Year honors in that series.
Reed, a native of Bakersfield, California, knows firsthand about living with such a serious illness. He was diagnosed with Type I diabetes two years ago, and has had to overcome the challenges of his condition on the racetrack. He said he first knew something was wrong because he was losing weight and experienced excessive thirst, both common signs of the disease. Reed originally mistook his symptoms for not being in good enough shape for racing, but as he felt worse and worse, his family finally urged him to see a doctor, where diabetes was discovered. At first, doctors told Reed he might not be able to race, but the driver refused to accept that dire prognosis. Instead, he went about learning how to monitor his condition during a race to avoid experiencing a dangerously high or low blood glucose level.
Working with Dr. Ann Peters, the same doctor who helps diabetic IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball, Reed now wears a continuous glucose monitor to help him keep up with his numbers. Through a sensor that’s implanted in his stomach, Reed receives blood glucose readings on a dashboard display so that he can take appropriate measures if the level either climbs too high or plummets too low. He must replace the sensor every seven days; it hurts a little, but Reed is willing to put up with momentary pain if it means he can race. He’s also careful to remain hydrated and to eat the right foods all the time.
Reed has also talked with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Miguel Paludo, a fellow Type I diabetic about the rigors of running full-time.
“It’s such a small world; we actually have the same personal trainer in Mooresville,” Reed said Friday. “Me and Miguel are pretty good friends. His son (Oliver) was diagnosed last year with Type I, so I know of the prevalence in his family and how much (awareness) means to him. He’s a great guy. We’ve talked a lot about how we each manage it. He’s a good friend.”
The official sponsorship is a mouthful, but Reed doesn’t mind saying it if it helps others.
“It is such an amazing feeling to be able to tie racing and diabetes awareness together,” says the rookie. “Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes will be able to use the NASCAR platform to its fullest potential and make a huge difference. For me to be told just a little over two and a half years ago I would never drive again, and now to be driving for Roush Fenway Racing is pretty surreal. So many people have been a part of all this and it would not be possible without them. I thank the American Diabetes Association and Lilly Diabetes for their participation in this movement. I am so excited about how far Drive to Stop Diabetes SM presented by Lilly Diabetes has come, and can’t wait to watch the impact it has on so many lives.”
Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush is hoping to infuse some young talent into the Nationwide Series next year, when Reed will join Trevor Bayne as full-time competitors. Roush says that he remains committed to running Travis Pastrana and Chris Buescher in the series as well. The opportunity to add Reed, who has two top-16 finishes in three NNS starts this year, to the lineup is exciting for the team.
“Ryan has shown a tremendous amount of talent in the races he has competed in for us this season,” says the owner. “His ability to not only battle the odds, but win out over the elements is a testament to the competitor that he is. We certainly are looking forward to getting him in the car on a full-time basis next season, and at the same time, teaming with the ADA and Lilly Diabetes to make a difference in the lives of people dealing with diabetes.”
Reed has driven three races this season in the No. 16, those being both races at Richmond and Bristol in August. Reed’s best finish so far has been a ninth last month at Richmond. Previously, Reed ran a part-time schedule for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. There, Reed earned one top 5 (a fifth at Chicagoland Speedway) and six top-10 finishes.
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