Story by Pat James, Social Media Strategist
As he looks back now, a few months removed from his second full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Tate Fogleman ’18 admits there were some tough times.
Plagued by mechanical issues and the like, Fogleman and his Young’s Motorsports team failed to finish better than 20th in 11 races between the beginning of March and the end of June. Finally, on July 9, he scored his first-ever top-10 finish with a ninth-place showing at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa. That, however, was followed just a few weeks later by back-to-back races that were cut short by an accident and a rear gear failure.
That 11-day stretch proved to be the most frustrating of Fogleman’s season. But even then, he didn’t let himself get down.
“We were just fighting through all the adversity,” he said. “Even through those times, you never know when things are going to turn around. So, we just kept staying with a positive attitude and working hard together and making the most of the opportunities we had.”
And in time, that approach paid off.
Making his 46th Truck Series start on Oct. 2 at the famed Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, Fogleman notched his first career win after contact with leader John Hunter Nemechek sent both crashing to the checkered flag in an overtime finish. Upon crossing the finish line, Fogleman’s No. 12 Chevrolet slammed into the inside wall, resulting in a subsequent trip to the infield care center instead of Victory Lane. Once he cleared his mandatory health check, though, the magnitude of his win began to sink in.
“It's what I've worked for my whole life, to have a shot at winning a NASCAR race,” said Fogleman, whose margin of victory was .052 seconds. “And to finally have that come through, that was amazing. … I wasn't able to do a burnout or anything like that, which was kind of a bummer. But just being able to win the race was all that I could ask for.”
And all he’d been dreaming of for as long as he can remember.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Kent, and his father, Jay — who started racing when they were 15 and 6, respectively — Fogleman began racing go-karts when he was 6 years old. As eager as he was to get started, Fogleman’s initial foray into racing didn’t meet expectations, and after about a year, he stepped away from the sport. His retirement, however, was short-lived, as he returned to racing go-karts a year later and hasn’t looked back.
“I just fell in love with it once I started back,” he said. “I don't know if I was too young when I first started or what. But from then on, I raced go-karts and then just different levels, working my way up.”
By age 12, Fogleman was racing full-size cars, and in just his third race, he pulled off the win at Orange County Speedway, with many of his Durham Academy classmates in attendance. A year later, he moved up to the Pro All-Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model competition, in which he traveled up and down the East Coast racing against the likes of his father. The challenges associated with running two cars out of one shop — located on the family’s farm in northeastern Durham County — led Jay to take a step back from racing in 2014 so he could help support his son’s dreams. That decision paid off in a big way in 2015, when Fogleman, then 15, became the youngest driver to win a PASS Super Late Model championship.
Four weeks after graduating from DA in May 2018 and before enrolling at High Point University, Fogleman made his Truck Series debut at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. Driving the No. 20 Chevrolet for Young’s Motorsports, he started 15th and got into the top 10. Spilled oil from another truck, however, caused him to spin out and crash, bringing his race to an early end.
Fogleman made two more appearances for Young’s Motorsports in 2018, with his best finish coming at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, where he took 15th. He then returned to the team in 2020 to tackle a full 23-race slate that offered plenty of valuable experiences.
“We were able to learn a lot going to these different tracks,” Fogleman said. “Most of the tracks I went to with the Super Late Model stuff, the biggest tracks were probably half a mile and three-eighths of a mile [whereas most Truck Series tracks are 1 1/2 miles or longer]. The Super Late Models, they were light, they turned good, had good brakes. And the trucks, they were bigger, heavier cars that I wasn't really used to. So, I had to learn that.
“And then also, just getting used to the speed. Most tracks we go to, we're going over 180 [mph], close to 190. So that was a big difference, because 120 usually is the top speed at most tracks [when racing Super Late Models]. At some of the smaller tracks, you don't even get up to like 90 before you're backing off to make the turn.”
Despite those differences and the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic — NASCAR didn’t hold practices or qualifying for most of the season — Fogleman posted 11 top-20 finishes on his way to a 17th-place finish in the championship standings. As impressive as that was, a win eluded him. That was until his thrilling performance at Talladega.
Now, as he prepares for his third full-time season in the Truck Series and his first with On Point Motorsports in 2022, he does so knowing he belongs.
“To me, you kind of get stuck as a regular Truck Series driver, but knowing that I've won now, people kind of refer to me as a Truck winner,” said Fogleman, who will pilot the No. 30 Toyota for On Point Motorsports. “It's special knowing that I've won a Truck race, and it builds my confidence going into the next season with On Point Motorsports, knowing that I can win.”
As much time as he spends focusing on his racing career, Fogleman — a senior business administration major and marketing minor at High Point — still prioritizes his academics. That’s easier said than done when you’re on the road 23 weeks each year. But Fogleman gets by, thanks in large part to the skills he learned while balancing a similarly hectic schedule at DA.
“The biggest thing in high school was notifying my teachers before and just getting all my work done before I would leave,” he said. “That made it easier because getting behind, it was so hard to catch back up. That's something a lot of people in the Truck Series, especially now, the younger guys — they were homeschooled or honestly aren't even going to school and just pursuing their career in NASCAR. But at Durham Academy, I got a good education and learned a lot of life skills. …
“It's definitely been tough, especially in college with the workload and everything. So, a lot of the time, I'm doing homework and studying in the airport or on the plane, which definitely isn't easy. But I’ve figured out how to manage it.”
When he’s not racing or studying, Fogleman is usually pitching himself to potential sponsors. In today’s day and age, he said, “if you're not bringing in like $3 million, you're not going to be racing for a good team.” So, he works tirelessly to meet with potential sponsors, whether it be over coffee, dinner or the phone.
A self-described introvert, Fogleman said his college classes have helped him feel more comfortable in such situations. But perhaps the biggest influence on his public speaking? Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner, with whom Fogleman met with each week while in Middle School to sharpen his skills, and everyone else he met at DA.
“They were all people who spoke well and worked well with other people,” Fogleman said. “So, just being that people person, that's something I wasn't really good at at first, but I was studying it and just learning as much as I could through every encounter. I think I've been able to learn a lot and kind of hone my skills to what really works best.”
The result: a winning formula.