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Ryan Truex to make NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Gateway

Ryan Truex celebrates his 18th birthday on Thursday, and couldn’t be happier with his present from Michael Waltrip Racing.

MWR announced that Truex will race in six NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2010 in addition to running the full 10-race K&N Filters Pro Series East schedule in defense of his 2009 championship.

"I’m a racer and the best present anyone can give me is a chance to race," said Truex who won three races and three poles in the former Camping World East Series last season. "Now I have a full plate of racing in the East Series in 2010 and six Nationwide races. Our eye is on running full-time Nationwide in 2011, so I couldn’t be happier."

Truex will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut on July 17 at Gateway Raceway just outside of St. Louis. Also tentatively scheduled are Michigan, Richmond, Kansas the fall Charlotte race and Homestead-Miami Speedway. MWR will be pursuing sponsorship support for Truex’s 2010 racing, as well as full-time support for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series effort.

Car owner Michael Waltrip said Truex and 19-year-old Trevor Bayne, who drives Diamond-Waltrip’s No. 99 in a fulltime NASCAR Nationwide Series effort, could represent the future of the company as well as the sport.

"Ryan Truex gave Michael Waltrip Racing its first championship last season when he won the K&N Filters Pro Series East championship so he’ll always be my hero," Waltrip said. "He’s a fantastic young driver and we feel he is ready to step up to the Nationwide Series. The Nationwide Series is a place for young guys like Ryan and Trevor to get a shot at showing off their skills and learning as much as they can. I think the fans are going to like both of these guys a lot. I hope they are around a long time at MWR and in this sport."

Truex is the younger brother of two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Martin Truex Jr. who drives MWR’s No. 56 NAPA Toyota in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.

Truex and his Crew Chief Mike Greci begin their East Series title defense on March 27 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.