Everybody in racing knows that guy named “Big Mo.” No, it’s not a guy who happens to be named Mo. It’s not a nickname for someone. It’s momentum. Everybody wants “Big Mo” on their side. Right now, Ryan Partridge has momentum on his side.
Partridge has run two races so far in 2016. He’s finished no worse than second. Partridge picked up the win in the Lucas Oil Modified Series feature at Kern County Raceway (CA) in February, then followed that up with a second-place run in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener at Irwindale Speedway (CA) last week.
Two completely different styles of race car. Two completely different styles of driving. Almost identical results.
The 27-year-old driver from Rancho Cucamonga, California said that it’s just time in the seat that is leading to strong runs, even though the cars are so different.
“I consider the West cars very well rounded,” Partridge told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “With that big tire, the weight, the horsepower and the big brakes, it just kind of makes it an easy-driving car. As a driver you can of sit back, relax, and be on a Sunday cruise and click off good lap times.
“On the other end of that spectrum is the Modified. The Modified is a 700-horsepower car on a tiny 8-inch treaded Hoosier. The difference between the two is just absolutely huge. The Modifieds, you can’t baby enough. At any time throughout the race if you want to put your foot to the floor you’re going to unscrew the tires. Even if it’s halfway or three-quarters of the way down the straightaway. But at the end of the day it’s still seat time and it’s very valuable to be in the seat.”
Partridge is racing full-time with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2016 with Bob Bruncati Racing with plans to run the Modified when his schedule allows.
“Every so often when our schedules align we’re going to run the Lucas Oil Modified division,” he said. “I believe there’s three nights or so that conflict with the West schedule, so we won’t be able to compete for a championship. But we’re going to go stink up the show every now and then hopefully.”
Partridge finished third in K&N West points last year with one win (Colorado National Speedway), six top fives and 10 top-10 finishes. But he had some bad luck last year, and Partridge believes that is the main reason why he wasn’t able to beat Chris Eggleston and Noah Gragson to win the championship.
“Even though they’d also get flat tires and stuff, they’d happen early in the race so they could come in and make up their laps and more positions,” he said. “It seemed like all of our bad luck came at the end of the race where the was no time to make up lost positions. I kind of believe if we keep doing what we were doing last year, keep our heads down and race hard we’re going to be just fine.”
Partridge said a championship this year would mean the world to him. He’s in the second year of a two-year deal with Bruncati and Sunrise Ford, and he doesn’t expect to be back with the team next year.
“I don’t have any plans after this,” explained Partridge. “I really hope this isn’t my last year. I love racing. I’ve been racing my whole life since I was five years old. But I’m a realist and I’m a broke kid. Bob Bruncati gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to drive this car. This is a team and a program that would usually take multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to drive these cars, but he’s flipping my bill for free.”
With that said, Partridge believes this year the motto has to be “championship or bust.”
“We have to get the championship. I am not leaving the West Series without a championship.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR