Reffner roughing it out By Brett Borden MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 23, 1998) Driver changes are typically among the worst kept secrets in sports. This may be a cruel fact of life, but in fact it can be beneficial to the drivers, who have...
Reffner roughing it out By Brett Borden
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Sept. 23, 1998) Driver changes are typically among the worst kept secrets in sports. This may be a cruel fact of life, but in fact it can be beneficial to the drivers, who have plenty of warning to work on their resumes. It's that dreaded firing out of nowhere that hits like a concrete wall, something Bryan Reffner found out earlier this season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"Flyin' Bryan" was piloting the No. 66 Carlin Burners & Controls Ford this season when suddenly he was grounded by team owner by Dale Phelon. Sitting 12th in the standings at the time, with two top-five and seven top-10 finishes to his credit, Reffner found himself scrambling for ways to maintain his lofty status in the standings. It has been a race-to-race soap opera, which this week finds Reffner in Mike Thompson's No. 22 M&J Racing Ford, trying to make the field for Saturday's NAPA 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
"As you might expect, when it is unexpected, it throws you into a little bit of a turmoil," Reffner said. "It is one of the downs in racing. But you know it when you get involved. It is something you have to deal with when it happens.
The ironic thing about Reffner's release was that he was only two races removed from his best finish of the season, a third in the Stevens Beil/Genuine Car Parts 200 at Flemington Speedway. He earned his first top-10 since (10th), driving the No. 84 Porter Cable Power Tools Ford this past week at the Ram Tough 200 presented by Pepsi at Gateway International Speedway in Madison, Ill. It has definitely been a tough row to hoe for the former American Speed Association champion.
"It's been stressful, I'm not here to say it hasn't," Reffner said. "There is nothing solid in my future. We're working real hard to find something. I've gone race by race. We're having a hard time putting something together for more than a two-race stretch. That makes it real difficult. I'm keeping my face out there, and doing whatever I can to land for next year.
"It's a real steep roller coaster. It's straight up and straight down. It's hard on a person. It's hard on everybody around me. You don't want to show that presence to people at the track. You want to keep that to yourself."
Reffner says that, if nothing else, being a hired gun gets you familiar with a lot of people in the garage area.
"I guess, luckily, so far I've been able to get along with everybody I've dealt with," he said. "When we go to the West Coast will be the tough part. The teams have a lot of expenses involved in getting people out there, and staying out there. It's going to be tough. I'm trying to find some money that I can take to somebody to make that happen. So far that hasn't gone real well, but I'm working on trying to make that happen because I do want to keep the points rolling. I just have to take it day by day right now."
As for next year, Reffner feels he has something to prove in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but fighting with one arm tied behind his back won't prove anything.
"To me, I want to have some success before I leave," he said. "But if an opportunity shows somewhere else, I'm going to take it just because I want to go somewhere where the whole thing can gel together and work. It it's in the truck series, that will be great for me because I don't want to walk away from this. I haven't won a race here yet. I've been so close, and yet so far. But the future is the future, and I can't say I'm not going to take that ride because I haven't won a race over here. I just want to land somewhere on my feet standing upright."
Source: NASCAR Online