From Mexico to America – German Quiroga Determined to Win

It took a while for German Quiroga to find success in his home country of Mexico. Once he did, however, Quiroga was on the move. After winning the 2011 NASCAR Toyota Series title with backing from Telcel – the largest cell phone company in Mexico.

Swapping from division to division, the Mexico City-native has found a home in NASCAR. Thanks to developing in the Toyota Series, he developed his skills on multiple short track ovals, albeit his main experience has been on road courses. But even while getting prepared for the higher NASCAR ranks while in Mexico, Quiroga wanted to move up the ranks.

After racing for a smaller team in the Mexico City Nationwide Series event in 2007, he stayed in Mexico for a few years. Once he won the title, it was time for him to make the swap to the United States.  

“From NASCAR Mexico to here, it was a pretty big change,” Quiroga said. “It is a very big step. Once I get a little more confidence and more comfortable – we are just going to strike it every single week. We have had the speed since last year at a lot of tracks. We have done well, especially since I haven’t run at the ovals never in my life. I didn’t experience the K&N Series or something like that. I did a couple of road course races there, but it wasn’t even with that competitive of a team. Everything was new for me. I had to learn a lot of new things. Each time we go out there – we are getting closer to getting strong in the series and moving forward in my career.”

Even though he contemplated on racing in the Nationwide Series, he opted to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Kyle Busch Motorsports signed Quiroga to run select circuits in 2011 and 2012, yet he just didn’t perform well due to not being at the track on a weekly basis. Thanks to racing in Mexico, however, he has been able to adjust to NASCAR’s third-tier division rather quickly.

“We have a couple of very nice ovals down there – nothing like here,” he told Speedway Digest on Friday morning. “The weight of the car is totally different. The tires and how you manage the race is kind of different. It is a good transition. I am learning a lot in this series for sure. I think Nationwide would have been a bigger step – like to go straight from the Toyota Series. Still, here is kind of too much. But I’m learning. I’m fortunate to have a great team. We just have to keep learning. Every race is a new experience. We have been successful so far, but we need to improve that.”

After joining Red Horse Racing, he became a teammate to Timothy Peters – who has seven victories since joining the organization in 2009. Although good results didn’t occur for Quiroga last season, he has steadily improved in 2014. With seven top-10s through the first 11 events, he has already bettered himself in that category from last year.

The biggest improvement for the 34-year-old has been his feedback to the crew. In 2013, he worked with five-time Nationwide Series winner Dan Stllman. But the chemistry just wasn’t right according to Quiroga. He didn’t know how to give ‘good’ feedback to the team. However, working with Peters’ former crew chief, Butch Hylton, the driver of the No. 77 Toyota Tundra has made great strides this season.

“Well, I have more information that I can give to him. Butch Hylton is a very experienced crew chief. He has been at the top of the sport for many years, and I think that gives me confidence with all of his years being a crew chief at the Cup level and with the Nationwide cars. Sometimes, I haven’t been at the tracks for a while or don’t have many laps, and he tries to help me as much as he can. The sky is the limit, so we are working very hard to improve.”

“I mean we are pretty close,” he continued. “At Texas, we had an engine failure. If it were not because of that, we would be leading the championship. I think what we need is to get a couple of wins for sure, finish in the top-five every weekend and there is more than half of the season left. We’ve made mistakes at the beginning of the season. We’ve given away spots that we shouldn’t have. It is what it is. We can’t change that. But now we have that experience to get the best out of it and do our best to be a contender.”

As he continues to show speed, Quiroga is now settling into his role at RHR. After being involved in multiple on-track incidents with Tyler Reddick at Pocono Raceway, he fell to sixth in points. But he’s just 43 markers behind Ryan Blaney for the championship lead. However, there is still improvement to be done, and if anyone understands that – it is the driver himself.

“Of course, we want to get that first win and try to battle for the championship. We are fifth right now, and we have had a couple of downs which I would have liked not to have happen, but it is what it is. The good thing is – we have to keep working hard and trying to do our best. Sometimes when things are not going really good for us, we are calm and we make the most out of our day.”

While he continues to make those strides towards Victory Lane, he is also looking to gain experience, especially at tracks that he has never raced at. That is where Hylton and he have become a force to be reckoned with. After running up front Gateway, the team finished second to Darrell Wallace, Jr. He has also finished on the lead lap in all but three races through this point in the season. After 11 races in 2013, he had just three top-10s.

However, it might be time to move on after this year. If he can start winning races with Red Horse Racing, Quiroga wants to make the jump to the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and eventually – the Sprint Cup Series.

Making less money than he did in Mexico, he has had to readjust his entire life style. According to Racing-Reference, Quiroga made $314,258 last year, but on average – drivers in the Truck Series earn around 30-40 percent of race winnings – if they are fortunate enough to do so. Besides the financial differences, his social life has changed immensely as well.

“I’m totally away from friends and family,” Quiroga said. “I’m trying to build a new community around me with friends – getting to know people and I mean everything. The money that I was winning in Mexico was a lot more than I am now. My life style was totally different. It is just a matter of trying to get there. It doesn’t really matter to me. I know what my goals are. I am really focusing on what I want to achieve. I know it’s not going to be easy. Some nights I tell you, it is very stressful and very sad. I’m here for a reason and I want to be successful in this sport.”

“I really just focus on the next day. I try to see how far I have gotten. Like so far, I have done things that no other Mexican has ever done. We just have to keep working hard. I wake up every day at 5:30 in the morning to go to the gym and work hard. I just keep reminding myself how far I want to get and how long it took me in Mexico to be successful and be the guy to beat. Then, to be the guy that wanted to jump out of the game and move over to another series.”

That hard work has started to pay off for Quiroga and his No. 77 team. For the rest of the year, he will need to perform at his highest ability. Making infrequent mistakes will be the biggest key for him, and he is starting to show just that. 

Joseph Wolkin