Ryan Repko Impressive in Martinsville Debut
To make the race at Martinsville Speedway should be an honor in its own. To make it in on your first attempt, well that’s just something special. To make it in on your first attempt and run up front for most of the day and contend for a win in both your heat race and the 200-lap feature is something to make you stop and watch. Ryan Repko, 16 from Denver, North Carolina, somewhat stole the spot light this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway after qualifying third in Saturday’s time trials and a strong run in the first heat race Sunday afternoon.
Repko, who runs primarily out at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford and has a Limited Late Model win under his belt from 2015, complied several top five and ten finishes in his first year in a full Late Model Stock car to finish third in points, win the Rookie of the Year title along with the UNOH Youth Achievement award. That wasn’t all, Repko was able to finish within the top 100 (81st) NWAAS drivers this season starting in 21 races. His efforts at Motor Mile, South Boston and Dominion earned him twelfth place points in the state of Virginia and missing out on the state Rookie of the Year by just one position.
Starting on the pole in heat number one, Repko looked poised to defend his third place starting position after opening an impressive lead over the rest of the field in the twenty-five lap heat. An almost ¾ straightaway lead was put to rest however when contact between Jimmy Mullins and Justin Johnson brought out the yellow. After that Repko did not look as strong as he had been in the opening laps. He would get forced to the top groove and back to the fifth position by the end of the race. A top five while racing the likes of multiple time national champ Phillip Morris and drivers like Josh Berry and Kres Vandyke is nothing to be ashamed of – his fifth place finish would transfer to a fifteenth place starting position in the show.
Poised and determined to better his starting position Repko picked up right where he left off in the heat race. This time however, he had to work his way up through the field, working to avoid the wrecks, save the tires, and pass as many cars as he could. Making his way up to the seventh position by the halfway break it was looking like Repko could have been a factor at the end of it all – key word being could have. During one of the cautions within the second segment Repko, who had made up a few more position found himself facing nose to nose with the caution car at the exit of turn two and because he lost forward progress, race control ordered him to the rear of the field.
“Four cars had already passed and the pace car darted out in front of me,” Repko said after the race. “I locked up the rear trying to slow down. Some people think I got hit but I don’t know.”
A major setback yes has it put him well outside of the top ten he had one more break and plenty of more wrecks to survive to better his chances at salvaging a decent finish. After taking tires at the lap 175 break, Repko was able to drive back to a ninth place finish between the #57 of Justin T. Carroll and the #03 of Brenden Queen.
Young Ryan Repko made it in our Who to Watch story before the green flag was even waved this past weekend and it was for good reason. To come to Martinsville and not only make the race but prove that you could have been there to win it at the end is something folks in the Late Model community should take note on. Make sure you keep your eye on this young man as there are a few more trophy races left in this “post season” as we like to call it. He will also be a force to be reckoned with come 2017.