Ryan Paul made headlines on Friday afternoon when he posted the fastest time in Snowflake 100 practice over the likes of Bubba Pollard, Travis Braden and defending winner John Hunter Nemechek. It was a surprise because he isn’t a household name quite like the others but maybe he’s about to be.
This is the weekend Paul has spent his entire driving career working towards.
The 32-year-old has enjoyed a fair amount of success across the Gulf Coast in Sportmen, Southern Modifieds and now in a Pro Late Model but it legitimately seems as if he’s on the cusp of becoming a perennial contender in crate motor racing.
“I feel like we’ve got a thick enough notebook for the Snowflake,” Paul said. “We tested with Bubba Pollard and Brannon Earnest and that’s made a huge difference too. Bubba is so awesome with these cars and he’s been a great friend and an open book on how to get better. I feel like that’s been a reason for our success.”
His wife, Brooke, and Pollard are long-time friends and the Pauls have become a fixture in the Pollard home and occasionally go dirt racing with him. Paul is the stereotypical racer and he’s surrounded himself with like-minded friends.
He recently built a two-door garage on his property in Mobile, Alabama to house the Pro Late he purchased from David Jones a few years ago. So now, having put so much into his program, he feels ready to build on his eighth-place finish from the 2015 Snowflake.
“Racing is all I do,” Paul said. “This is all I’ve ever known. There’s no football for me. I love racing. It’s who I am. If I’m not working on this car, I’m working on someone elses or watching a race on TV. So that’s what has me so excited for this weekend.
“This is the biggest race of the season and that has me feeling extra motivated”
Despite his speed in practice, Paul is trying to stay even-tempered. He knows he has momentum, but also knows the competition will get no greater than Saturday night’s race. He would love to win, but would be more than pleased with simply improving over last year’s result.
“I feel really good about what we’ve put together, but you have to stay realistic,” Paul said. “You expect John Hunter to make up some speed. You expect the usual names to show up. But I’ll be happy with a top-5. Now if I win, I’ll have a freaking heart attack. But a top-5 is the realistic goal and we’re going to do everything we can to improve on that.”