It was after 2 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday when an exhausted but elated Josh Reaume was asked to sum up his week-long experience of piloting his first ride in the NASCAR Nationwide race series at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.
“That’s a good question,” the 23-year-old resident of Highlands said, unwinding less than two hours after guiding his Rick Ware Racing/Lilly Trucking Chevrolet Camaro to a 30th place finish after starting 37th in the 40-car field on the 3/4-mile oval.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a big learning curve and I got a lot out of it,” said Reaume, who first began racing karts at age 15 at Western Speedway in Langford. “There are a lot of positives to take out of this. For sure, it’s a dream come true. This has been a goal of mine the last couple of years and to finally get there is gratifying.
“The racer in me is upset we didn’t finish better,” he said of having to deal with pit-stop strategies and several cautions, including a couple that ran very close to each other near the end of the ToyotaCare 250. “If they hadn’t thrown those two cautions really close together, we would have finished higher than we did.
“The racer in me is getting antsy again. I want to get in the car again right away so I can get out there, get better and improve my results.”
Not that he was disappointed in any way, except for having to deal with a bad case of allergies due to pollen in the area.
Richmond was a course the University of Victoria mechanical engineering graduate was a little familiar with as he competed in a K&N Pro East series race there last season.
But that didn’t make it any easier for Reaume, who was making his Nationwide debut after racing in the K&N and NASCAR Camping World Truck series in 2013.
Having secured six races with Rick Ware Racing this season, Reaume competed Friday against the likes of eventual race winner, veteran Kevin Harvick, who is backed financially by team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., an infamous figure in the NASCAR Sprint series.
“It’s the second-highest division of professional stock car racing in the world and it hasn’t sunk in a lot,” Reaume admitted in a friendly phone chat from his hotel room
“I was just out there having fun, getting a run with guys I watch on TV all the time. I learned a lot over the course of the race. I was very comfortable with the car, passing other people,” he said.
“I think, overall, I did a good job racing. I wish I could race it again, right away.”
He’ll get his chance, just not immediately, as his next run could be at Dover on May 31.
His finish ended a long day of surviving rain delays and starting well back in the grid, which was a tough challenge.
“Our goal was to finish the race, learn throughout the whole weekend because it’s a huge learning curve, bring the car home in one piece and if we could finish Top 30, great. We finished 30th so we met all those goals,” said Reaume.
“Another goal was getting the car back in the Top 30 in owner points which guaranteed us a starting spot at the next race, even if qualifying is rained out. By beating the 52 car (driven by Joey Gase) we managed to do that and get locked in.”