LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 03: Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) | Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 03: Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 03, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Mastermind of RSS Racing Rod Sieg opens up about NASCAR journey

By Dustin Albino

The last time the Xfinity Series visited a traditional road course at Sonoma Raceway, Rod Sieg stood in Victory Lane for the first time as a winner in the series. It’s a moment he won’t forget after a decade of being a team owner at this level.

Sure, the team had a partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing, which allowed Aric Almirola to better his craft, but the win was still under the RSS Racing banner. It moved the No. 28 team up in the owner’s standings with Kyle Sieg as the team’s primary driver. 

“We enjoyed it,” Rod said of the victory. “It was great. It helped everybody out. It means something. Joe [Custer, president of SHR] was generous and nice about it. He said, ‘If you don’t want to do it, there’s a couple other teams I can go to.’ I said, ‘No, if I’m going to have an alliance with you, I would rather you do it with me than do it with somebody else.’”

Almirola was happy to be the person to deliver the team its first win. He’s still surprised, however, that it came on a road course. 

“It was cool to do that and spend some time with the Sieg family in Victory Lane and see the excitement and joy on their faces,” Almirola said. “They’ve been around the sport for a long time and have put in a tremendous amount of hard work and money. To get them to Victory Lane was awesome.”

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 10: Aric Almirola, driver of the #28 Michael Roberts Construction Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway on June 10, 2023 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Away from racing, Rod runs a towing service company, S&W Towing Service, out of Tucker, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. His company assists the city of Atlanta and the two surrounding counties with towing. He’s got three terminals that run nearly 100 trucks. That’s his passion. 

Rod’s enjoyment is racing, something his sons Shane and Ryan discovered as children. Ryan, who currently ranks 17th in the Xfinity standings, is the family’s most successful driver. Growing up, Rod met his sons at the racetrack while other family members drove them there. Ryan was successful in the World Karting Association and later moved up to legends cars and late models. 

Starting a NASCAR team was appealing to Rod, knowing that he didn’t have the necessary funding to send his sons to a different race team. The team purchased its first truck in 2009 and Ryan finished 13th in his first start at the Milwaukee Mile. In 2010, Ryan was RSS’ first full-time driver, placing 15th in the Truck Series standings. Rod said he fielded multiple trucks, some of which would start-and-park in order for Ryan to run the full event. That’s the same strategy the team pulled when it moved to the Xfinity Series in its early existence. 

In 2013, Ryan filled in for a suspended Jeremy Clements for a pair of races. Rod said that his son liked that series better and hoped to move up to the series full time. Come the middle of the season, RSS made its series debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and later ran at Kansas Speedway after making a key hire in Kevin “Cowboy” Starland, who began leading the charge at RSS and retired following the 2022 season. 

“We worked it out and drove [cars it had bought from JR Motorsports],” Rod said of moving to the Xfinity Series. “That’s how I got involved with RCR and renting motors from ECR. We just moved up.”

In 2014, RSS competed full time in the Xfinity Series with Ryan. He racked up two top 10s, narrowly missing out on a win at Daytona International Speedway, finishing third to Kasey Kahne and Regan Smith. Then RSS experienced some of the lows of the sport, not scoring another top 10 for a year-and-a-half, though Ryan scored the team’s first top 10 on an intermediate track at Kansas Speedway. With a trio of top 10s in 2016, Ryan made the inaugural Xfinity Series postseason, finishing ninth in the championship standings. 

It took until 2019 for RSS to hit its stride. In an alliance with Richard Childress Racing, Ryan earned 12 top-10 finishes, which was more than his first five seasons combined. The following season, he scored seven of his 16 career top-five finishes. The No. 39 car also led a career-high 103 laps. RSS also leaned on 2000 series champion Jeff Green, who drove for the team between 2017 and 2020, while also working behind the scenes. 

“It’s always good, but I think our cars are just as good now,” Rod said of Ryan’s 2019 and 2020 seasons. “You’ve got to be lucky in racing, I don’t care what anybody says. The fastest car doesn’t always win the race.

“We had good pit crews those years, too.”

RSS ended its partnership with Chevrolet after the 2020 season. In a move to Ford, Rod was hoping his team would be elevated as there wasn’t many Ford teams in the series. Ryan had five top-10 finishes in the opening 10 races of the 2021 season, but managed to score only two more over the final 23 races. The manufacturer switch was more challenging than anticipated. 

“It was a lot of work to switch over to Ford, but it’s been good with Joe Custer and Stewart-Haas,” Sieg said. “It started out a little rocky, but now they are trying to help and do good.” 

In the team’s second year with Ford, Ryan bettered his first 10 races from 2021, with seven top 10s. He went on to make the playoffs for the third time, but was bounced out after the opening round, despite scoring top 10s in all three races. 

“I think Ryan is a better driver than our cars,” Rod stated. “That’s the problem I always seem to have, but now he’s helping Kyle. There’s a big age difference between the two of them and Ryan has a lot of knowledge and tries to help him out every chance he can.”

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 21: Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Ford, (L) and Kyle Sieg, driver of the #28 US Hydrations/Sparkling Ice Ford, walk the grid during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pocono 225 at Pocono Raceway on July 21, 2023 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images
(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Rod runs the race team near his towing business in Sugar Hill, Georgia, more than three hours away from the Charlotte bubble. The Siegs know that to work for the family-run operation, the employees must be dedicated. Every week, there are some employees traveling back and forth from Charlotte to pick up new gears and transmissions. 

“With the way our team is, you have to like us because you’re coming to Georgia and most of the guys are from North Carolina and have to drive down,” Ryan said. “I drove to Charlotte a couple of weeks ago and it’s a pretty [crappy] drive.”

But the team laces up their boots, puts their heads down and gets to work. Rod is known as a person who loves to have fun. Sometimes, too much fun. 

“The best owner in the garage,” Ryan said with a laugh when describing his father. “That’s my dad. He works hard; we all do. That’s what he does and he still works hard today doing towing service every day. When he’s not, he’s at the racetrack doing what he loves.”

Even his youngest son Kyle, 22, has had to get on Rod about slowing down. 

“I always have a good time, maybe too good of a time,” Rod noted. “I try to keep it calm. I’ve been more business like the last couple of years. Ryan never said anything and neither did my other son, but Kyle said, ‘You might need to dress up a little bit.’ Kyle is getting on to me. I liked that and thought he’s growing up a little bit.”

2023 marks the 10th full season of RSS fielding cars in the Xfinity Series. In those years, there have been rule changes, an influx of talent run through the series, but RSS has powered on. Rod has seen a ton of growth in the team, but believes the most is from the driver’s seat with Ryan and Kyle, who didn’t take racing as seriously until graduating high school. 

The team is run on grit. It takes all of the Siegs to keep it going, including Pam, Rod’s wife, who is listed as the car owner of the No. 28 car and does all the intricacies of flights, billing and payments. Maybe one day Rod will retire. 

“I’m old. I don’t need to be doing this anymore,” Rod said with a smile. “I’m 63 now. They still drag me around everywhere and act like they need to have me but I know they don’t care if I come back or not.

“I think it’s the best thing you can do, bring your whole family and hang out at the track.”

The series heads back to a road course this weekend at Road America. Expectations will be different, but you can’t take the previous win away.