It was a fairly calm NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway with a variety of impressive runs by an underdog team with a feel-good story — and it did not get overlooked.
RSS Racing finished with two drivers in the top 10, the first time in team history that it put two cars inside the top 10 in an Xfinity Series race. Ryan Sieg finished fourth followed by Jeff Green in seventh. Josh Bilicki finished 23rd.
If the success that RSS Racing saw at Daytona is any indication of what’s to come for the small team based out of Sugar Hill, Georgia, we will be seeing a lot more of the Nos. 38, 39 and 93 Chevrolets running up front.
“We’re more prepared than ever,” Sieg told NASCAR.com. “It seems like every year we’re sort of fresh when we get to Daytona and then we just get behind. We started working earlier this year and with more qualified people, I would say.”
“There were some Xfinity teams that shut down in the off-season so there was some good help out there and that makes a world of a difference when you’ve got people who know what they’re doing as opposed to training people and showing them what to do. That just makes a really big difference to have the right people in the right spot.”
RELATED: Daytona race results
With only a handful of full-time employees, the RSS Racing team has had to work harder and longer to ensure its readiness for each race weekend. This is even more evident now with the fielding of three cars and a new engine provider in ECR Engines. The goals and expectations of the organization have risen notably, being able to look back at the beginning years and see growth.
“More people have to do more things,” Sieg said. “You compare a small team to a bigger team, you basically have one guy doing the job of 10 or 12 people. It’s a lot, a lot of long hours, late nights, some all-nighters.”
“We actually have cots above the race shop for guys to stay. They stay there for basically two weeks straight leading up to Daytona. It’s kind of old-school racing. They go get a couple hours of sleep and get back to work.”
With Daytona in the rear-view mirror, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Rinnai 250 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) but RSS doesn’t have to travel very far to get there.
“Atlanta is our home track,” Sieg said. “I think we’re the only team left that’s based out of Georgia. It’s our home race. We always seem to struggle there, we’ve never really had a good race for whatever reason. But, I think this year will be different. We have new and better cars. Jeff Green and Josh (Bilicki) will both be going there so we’ll have three cars total.”
Sieg has five starts at Atlanta, starting from the top 10 twice, but hasn’t finished inside the top 20 in any race except 2016 when he finished 16th. Green has 16 starts under his belt at Atlanta with one top five. Bilicki will make his first Atlanta start in the Xfinity Series this weekend. They’re hoping that the momentum from Daytona holds true and they see different results at their home track on Saturday.
“It’s a grind,” Sieg said. “We’ve done it now for four or five years and we kind of know what to expect. We have a better plan and we know what to do. Just being as prepared as you possibly can and I think it will start to show on the results side, too.”
RSS Racing currently has sponsorship slated for about 21 races. They like to keep it familiar and close-to-home with small, local companies such as Code Rum, that will be on the hood of Sieg’s No. 39 at Atlanta.
“We really like working with smaller, local companies,” Sieg said. “There’s probably about 10 or 12 that we work with throughout the year.”
There is a long season of racing ahead and Sieg and the RSS Racing team know that they have a lot of work to do but are confident that it is going to pay off and that they will be celebrating this growth by running in the top 10 more often – or maybe even Victory Lane.
“We always have a ‘week ahead’ mentality, like we know we’re going to Atlanta but in the back of our minds, it’s like, ‘OK, we’ve got the west coast swing after this,’” Sieg said.