When Ryan Sieg finished fourth in the 2019 Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. But his strong run through the first three months of the season was a tad surprising.
Not that Sieg isn’t a top-caliber driver, but the Georgia native, with his family-owned RSS Racing team based out of the Peach State, only has a handful of full-time employees to field three Xfinity teams.
Up until Memorial Day weekend, Sieg had six top-10 finishes through the opening 11 races of the season. Then, the No. 39 team went five straight races without a top 10. With finishes of eighth and ninth at Kentucky Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in mid-July, Sieg posted consecutive top 10s, only having one additional top 10 since.
Entering the Xfinity playoffs this weekend at Richmond Raceway, having a lack of resources compared to some of the top organizations leaves Sieg and the No. 39 team battling for their playoff lives.
But he’s not giving up.
“It’s very uphill,” Sieg said. “It’s tough, especially when you’re going against [Joe] Gibbs [Racing], [Richard] Childress [Racing] and Stewart-Haas [Racing], but we fought through the year and battled and find ourselves running good — top 10s, top fives — and we’re just going to keep battling and hopefully find ourselves at Homestead [-Miami Speedway].”
Compared to prior years — even 2016, the only other season Sieg has made the playoffs — the No. 39 team has been more competitive. Coming into the season, he had nine top-10 finishes in 169 career starts. This year alone, Sieg has posted nine top 10s.
Because of the success this year, Sieg said he believes he at least has a fighting chance moving on in the playoffs in what he considers the best year of his career.
“We’ve definitely competed with the Cup-affiliated teams all through most of the year, and beat a couple of them,” Sieg added. “This is definitely a career year for my team and myself.”
Over the offseason, RSS added veteran crew chief Shane Wilson to its stable, which is one of the reason Sieg said he believes there has been an uptick in performance.
“Shane’s been a huge help,” Sieg said. “With his experience and knowledge, even with myself, working with drivers like [Kevin] Harvick and other drivers, he’s brought a lot to the table and experience with RCR and team’s he’s been with carry over to this year.
“He’s been a huge help for our team and myself.”
In 11 starts at Richmond, Sieg has a best finish of fifth, that coming in the most recent race in April.