MOORESVILLE, N.C. – When Ryan Vargas straps into the No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro for JD Motorsports Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, it will mark the breakthrough he wasn’t sure he’d ever get.
Vargas will drive in the final six NASCAR Xfinity Series races of the season for team owner Johnny Davis, starting with the Ag-Pro 300 at the 2.66-mile Alabama oval. It’s the first time he’ll have the chance to run consecutive events in his NASCAR national series career.
The recently turned 20-year-old from La Mirada, Calif. – who made three Xfinity Series starts for JDM earlier in the season – got his shot thanks to a unique partnership with social media giant TikTok, which will back him in all six races on his end-of-season schedule.
It was a case of perfect timing and enthusiasm for the sport that Vargas is eager to tap into. It also left him emotional in a way that he said he’s “rarely experienced” during his racing career.
“When I first got word that we were doing it, I’m going to be honest, I cried,” said Vargas. “It was huge. It definitely changes the landscape of everything that’s gone on with me in my career. The folks at JD (Motorsports) provided me such an incredible opportunity to drive in the Xfinity Series. And now having the opportunity to bring them this type of a partnership and being able to race through the end of the year, is all really important to me.”
The timing mentioned circles around Vargas’ friendship with well-known industry designer Ryan Pistana and a fantasy TikTok paint scheme – which eventually became reality with Vargas behind the wheel.
In short, life imitated art for the young Californian.
“This all really just came together in a funny way. Everyone knows by now that Ryan put out a fantasy graphic of a TikTok scheme on social media … and it took off pretty good. Better than either of us imagined,” Vargas recalled. “It got a couple hundred likes and a lot of retweets … and somewhere along the line, it came across the folks at TikTok and NASCAR. They got to talking behind the scenes, and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew I got a phone call from them, asking what could possibly come from this and talking about what opportunities there could be.
“I’ve been doing the whole sponsorship thing on my own for the past year and a half or two years now, so I didn’t expect anything really to come of it. I thought it was going to end up being a collaboration on something (simple), and that was about it,” Vargas continued. “But as conversations kept going and started going a little further, they got more and more interested. The folks with TikTok are super enthusiastic about NASCAR. They love the sport, they love all the fan interaction, and NASCAR has been very active on there as well. So one thing led to another; we initially pitched one race … and from there that turned into multiple races.
“I know a lot of sponsor deals don’t come across like that. So I’m very, very fortunate on that end.
Considering Vargas has only had limited opportunities behind the wheel on a national stage, he’s looking forward to the consistency that the next six weekends will provide him.
“I’ve only run three races this year. I’ve only been in a race car a grand total of four times all season – that’s including the ARCA test (at Daytona Int’l Speedway in January) – so I don’t get too many opportunities to drive a race car and to show what I can do,” Vargas noted. “This has opened up a whole new opportunity for me to go out there, represent a large company, show to everyone that they are interested in the sport and show that they are very enthusiastic about being here.
“They’re here to stay and prove a lot of people wrong, and really, that’s been my whole mantra for the last couple of years is proving people wrong. And here we are today with a shot to do just that.”
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