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Parker Retzlaff: “We Just Need Better Luck”

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By Joseph Wolkin

A year ago, virtually no one in the NASCAR garage area had heard of Parker Retzlaff. He wasn’t identified as a top prospect, and the former Bandolero champion from Rhinelander, Wisconsin, had only appeared in a handful of ARCA Menards Series races.

Then, unexpectedly, Retzlaff made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with RSS Racing as a teammate to series veteran Ryan Sieg. And as soon as Retzlaff hit the track, he had plenty of speed.

Driving the No. 38 Ford, he qualified sixth at Phoenix Raceway, a remarkable accomplishment for the 19-year-old racer. When he made his second series start at Richmond, all eyes were on Retzlaff and he didn’t disappoint. He started 10th, ran among the top 10 throughout the race and earned his first top-10 finish.

During the offseason, Retzlaff switched to the Chevrolet camp and now drives the No. 31 car for Jordan Anderson Racing. The third-year Xfinity Series team expanded to a multi-car effort, with Retzlaff running alongside veteran Jeb Burton in the No. 27 Camaro.

The first time Retzlaff wheeled a JAR Chevy, he earned the team’s best finish. He came home fourth at Daytona in the season opener, yet another accomplishment for someone who had yet to celebrate his 20th birthday.

Now, Retzlaff is focused on improving. By the end of the year, he wants to be among the top 10 on a weekly basis – and a visit to the winner’s circle isn’t out of the question.

What’s it been like competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year?

It’s been great. We’ve been having a lot of fun. It’s been an up-and-down year so far. It started out really good at Daytona and Las Vegas. We’ve been slowly getting better throughout the year, and I think everyone on the team is getting better. Hopefully, by the end of the year, we will be where we should be.

How challenging is it to go from racing part time to full time?

It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot busier. I’m learning a lot. I’m trying to get everything done throughout the week so I can do the best I can on the weekends.

What’s it like to race for Jordan Anderson, knowing he’s only 32 years old?

Racing for Jordan is really good. I’m enjoying it a lot. He’s been good to me and everyone around me. He’s putting together the best team he can, and he’s still trying to get better. Everyone is getting better together. We know the communication we need to have. It’s been great to be working with Jordan. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

What do you feel like you need to do as a driver to get this team into the top 10 more frequently?

We’ve had top-10 speed a lot of the weeks, but we’ve had some problems that have put us behind. We just need to have a race go our way once.

Last year, you really shocked some people with the raw speed you showed right away. Did you surprise yourself that you adapted to the Xfinity Series so quickly?

I did impress myself, yeah. When I got to Phoenix, we had so much speed. I needed to work on some stuff that I feel I’ve gotten better with this year. I just need to put a full race together and we should be right where we need to be.

So why Jordan Anderson Racing? What made you pick this team when you were looking for a home for 2023?

Jordan is younger and we’re both trying to build right now. He’s trying to build this team and I’m trying to get more races. I really like Jordan. I have known Jordan for the last five or six years. I watched them race last year and I knew it was going to be a good place. I knew he would give me the best equipment.

How important is your partnership with FunkAway, which for the readers is an extreme odor eliminator for clothes, shoes, sports gear and airborne funk?

It’s been really good to work with the folks from FunkAway. They really stepped up this year. They’ve been my main sponsor, and I love everyone there. Overall, it’s been really good. I want to keep helping them grow while growing myself to be a better race car driver.

Growing up, was there a specific race car driver you wanted to emulate once you got to this level?

My favorite driver growing up was Kyle Larson. I met him 10 years ago, right at the start of my racing career. I really liked him and he used to race a Parker Store car and my name is Parker, so I also liked that growing up. I think Kyle Larson has always been my favorite driver.

Have you gotten to know him at all?

Not really. I haven’t had the chance to talk to him. I got to speak with him 10 years ago, but not since I made my NASCAR debut. Hopefully, the day will come and I’ll be able to talk to him. It’s been good also to have everyone at Team Dillon Management and Austin Dillon, being able to learn from those guys.

What have you learned from Austin Dillon, who’s an Xfinity Series champion?

I’m relying on Austin, especially for things like road course stuff because I never went there. All of these places that I’ve never been to, I can go to him for help. Everyone at TDM has been really helpful since I’ve only run a few Xfinity Series races. I use them to learn as much as I can before I get to the race track.

What are your goals for this year?

Once we start having good races and some better luck, there isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t be racing for top 10s every week. I feel like we’ve had really good stuff this year when we have things go right. But we’ve had a lot of issues at the beginning of the year that are out of everyone’s control. We just need better luck. We need to have nothing to go against us and we can see where we’re truly at.

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Nicole Cooper

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