Earning less than $8,000 on Friday evening is not going to cover the damage which Ryan Ellis sustained during a late-race incident with Jake Crum. Ellis, 24, was making his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, and second with FDNY Racing, an organization which runs a limited schedule.
Ellis was arguably intentionally hit by Crum on Lap 87. After Crum discussed his side of the story to Speedway Digest on Saturday afternoon, we spoke to Ellis on Sunday evening to hear what he had to say.
“My initial reaction was that I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know if I came up a little bit and he came down and it was a racing incident, but obviously the information that I got was that I got dumped. I went on the radio and was like ‘did we get turned?’ And you could hear me yell it on the broadcast. I kind of got dazed. I asked David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) if we got turned and he was like ‘yeah he hooked you.’ I was like ‘alright, who was it?’ I heard that from David Ragan and I was like ‘I’m going to go kill this guy’ (he joked). Luckily, at that point I hadn’t seen the video of what happened, so I was able to make a rational decision of how to handle it – walked out and gave him the ‘what for’ signal. I thought I saw some kind of hand gesture from him, but I don’t know,” Ellis said over-the-phone.
The tone in Ellis’ voice elaborated on his displeasure of what occurred. Both drivers were racing for severely underfunded teams, and the incident hurt each of them.
“I went over to his hauler and was waiting for him after the race, but that kind of got blown out of proportion. I had seen the replay and once I did, I was just really mad because that was when I saw I was going in a straight line. I was waiting by the hauler to see his side of the story and just talk to him to figure out if I made him mad. It was different. Sitting there over night, I really started to think why he hasn’t reached out to me. He reached out to me eventually, we talked and he said he hit the wall during the race. I think we both agreed that he shouldn’t have put himself in that position. There were no hard feelings outside of that. A lot of people say that it was purposeful, and pretty much everybody told me they thought it was on purpose at this point. I’ll try to give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t want a bad name in racing just like he doesn’t. All of us guys trying to make it need to stick together. I’m not going to retaliate because I don’t have any money to retaliate.”
Crum claims that his No. 82 truck for Empire Racing sustained damage to his right front toe-in after Ellis and he got together in a wreck on Lap 30. However, Crum said that he forgot about the earlier incident with Ellis, and was just trying to get a side draft to pass him, but because of the toe-in issue, he was at a severe angle while racing with Ellis which he did not realize would evidently send the No. 28 truck straight into the wall.
“It seemed like a very severe angle to side draft at. It looks horrible on tape. NASCAR has a lot of really, really close footage. They are not happy about the situation. I spoke to (NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director of Competition) Chad Little and he is pretty concerned about the incident, and I am not sure what they are going to do. I gave him my side of the story and told him that I am not going to hold anything against Jake. I don’t really know him and this is our first incident,” Ellis said on the incident.
They tried calling each other, but Ellis missed the calls due to practicing his Nationwide Series car at Iowa on Saturday afternoon. Eventually, both drivers spoke, and discussed the incident. They agreed to disagree, yet they have forgiven each other for the incident. There are no hard feelings for each other, but Ellis has gained plenty of support from his peers since the incident.
“I spoke to pretty much everyone in the Nationwide Series today and they all doubt Jake’s story, and they think it was on purpose. I’ll try to make my own judgment on that though.”
Now, both drivers might not be able to race with their perspective organizations. Crum is unsure whether or not he will obtain sponsorship to return to Empire Racing, but stated will have some meetings with the team to discuss his future. Meanwhile, since FDNY Racing gives all the money which they earn to multiple charities, the organization might not be able to return to the race track this season.
“At this point I don’t know. We’re trying to put together some fundraisers to put the truck back together. We were supposed to be out racing at Pocono, but that was our Pocono truck and it’s completely destroyed. It’s not fun for anybody. I don’t know if we’ll be back on the track this year, but we’ll try to find a way,” said Ellis who also will drive for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing in the Camping World Truck Series.