German Quiroga Jr. has a lofty goal. The 32-year-old Mexico City native wants to be the first racer from his county to win on an oval in one of NASCAR's national series.
So after winning his third straight title in the NASCAR Mexico Series last year, Quiroga moved to Charlotte, N.C. - the epicenter of stock car racing. He was recruited by Kyle Busch Motorsports to drive the No. 51 NET 10 Wireless Tundra. Although Quiroga toyed with the Nationwide, K&N and IndyLights tours, he's settled on running the entire Camping World Truck Series schedule if he can secure full sponsorship.
"I've been trying to get here and have an opportunity like this all my life," Quiroga said. "I'm trying to learn as much as I can so I can be more competitive and feel better when I'm in the truck."
Although Quiroga is still working to gain speed for Friday's WinStar World Casino 350, he made his truck debut at New Hampshire last September and finished 16th without testing. In an effort to follow NASCAR's requirements to advance into a more permanent role, he added the 1.5-mile Miami-Homestead Speedway at the end of 2011.
This year, Quiroga is running four races with KBM. Veteran crew chief Rick Ren, who holds the truck series record for most wins, will again call the shots on the No. 51 truck. Ren understands Texas Motor Speedway will be a challenge for his driver due to the high rate of speed. But considering that their last outing at Talladega Superspeedway produced the driver's first top 10 truck finish, Ren is encouraged.
"To come from the 23rd starting position to run as high as fourth at Talladega really pumped him up," Ren said. "You could see with each passing lap that he became more comfortable with his ability to move his truck around and work with his spotter. All of that will increase his confidence when we get to Texas.
"The great thing that I've learned with German is that he really listens to us when we try to explain to him what he has to work on when he shows up and how he needs to drive the race track. I think Texas will be a really cool race track for him and he will do just fine."
Although Quiroga has 16 wins in the Mexico Series, he realizes that NASCAR's top three tours are a completely different level of difficulty. And there's an added obligation. While NASCAR has its share of Hispanic competitors in Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, Quiroga feels the need to represent his country in the sport. This week alone, Quiroga had nearly a dozen appearances earlier this week in Phoenix in anticipation for next week's events and several here in Texas before his track duties took precedent.
"It's going to be a big responsibility for me on and off the track," Quiroga said. "I want to represent the Mexican and Latinos that might also have a dream of doing this one day. If I can run well, it will help attract the Hispanic market.
"It's a big step moving into the truck series - and it's only going to get bigger and bigger. A Mexican has never won on an oval in a National division and that's my first goal. It's going to be tough. It's going to be competitive. But I really want to make this happen."