For the first time in his NASCAR career, underdog Ryan Ellis is scheduled to compete in the Sprint Cup Series.
Ellis, 25, will make his NSCS debut in the No. 33 for Circle Sport Racing in the Nov. 15 Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The Virginian announced the news on Twitter late Monday afternoon.
— Ryan Ellis (@ryanellisracing) October 19, 2015
“I don’t think there is a possibility of getting a full-time ride out of this,” Ellis told Frontstretch on Monday evening. “It is more about the opportunities being available and proving to Cup teams that I belong in that garage area and that I can handle not only the car, but the competition. It is a matter of proving yourself in that capacity and having Cup team owners think of you if someone gets sick or hurt at the track. It’s how Brett Moffitt got his ride this year.
“I have been looking for anyway that I can to get in the Cup garage. I do a lot of my own sponsorship work. I was connected through a friend and prepared a proposal, went and met with them the old-fashioned way. The sponsor has never been involved in the sport before, so I had to explain a lot of what NASCAR is and what a sponsorship entails. There is the opportunity to do a lot more if we do it right.”
Ellis will compete with backing from ScienceLogic, a company that specializes in hybrid IT monitoring. Per the company’s website, “over 20,000 global service providers, enterprises, and government organizations rely on ScienceLogic every day to significantly enhance their IT operations.”
Phoenix will mark ScienceLogic’s first experience with NASCAR sponsorship.
“I’ve met Mike Hillman earlier this year when I was trying to get a ride and all of the Circle Sport guys,” Ellis explained. “I don’t really know any of them all that well. I’ve probably driven for about 15 teams (actually 11 teams) in two years in the sport [combined between the Truck Series and Xfinity Series].”
Since making his NASCAR debut in late models back in 2006, Ellis has been a racing journeyman, slowly working his way up the ranks each season. Ellis has 29 career starts in the NXS, with a best finish of 22nd coming at Watkins Glen back in August with Rick Ware Racing. Ellis currently competes in both the NXS and the Camping World Truck Series, where he runs part-time for MAKE Motorsports and FDNY Racing.
At Talladega, Ellis will not be with FDNY as originally scheduled. Two-time reigning NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss will be piloting the No. 28 truck in Ellis’s place, bringing sponsorship along. Instead, he will be piloting one of MAKE’s two trucks as a teammate to Travis Kvapil.
Said Ellis: “I’m going to base myself off a lot of what BJ McLeod did [at Loudon]. I’m just hoping to qualify in the top 38 and then the race will depend on how traffic is managed, lapped cars and crashes. You can’t really set a goal of where you want to finish in the race. I know who I want to be racing around, like the guys with BK Racing and Alex Bowman, and you have to look at those guys as ones that you want to be racing around. I think a top 35 or top 30 would be huge.
“I’m not looking for anything crazy. I’m just going to take it lap-by-lap. Fortunately, I have some laps in an NXS car there [at Phoenix]. I think Phoenix is a track that is somewhat similar to Richmond. I’m very comfortable at Richmond and short tracks in general. Todd Bodine – I texted him earlier – offered to help me out. I’m going to go to my buddies, Matt DiBenedetto and Alex [Bowman], and see what they can offer me. I’m going to learn more by getting out there and doing it than anything else.”
Joseph Wolkin contributed to this article.