Gained Valuable Experience in Both Inaugural Late Model and K&N Pro East Races at Daytona International Speedway
It was a long three days down in Daytona, but Self was able to gain a lot of learning. Fortunately there were no points involved in what was billed as two “all-star” races, so Austin and his teams could really focus on getting to know one another and get some valuable experience working together.
Sunday was spent getting the OTX Late Model Car and the AM Technical Solutions K&N Pro East car ready to race and through NASCAR tech inspection. All told, it was a fun and relaxing day hanging out with the crews, fans and other drivers.
Monday was a different story with 3 hours of LMSC Practice, 2 hours of K&N Pro Practice, 1 hour of pictures, 1 hour of Autographs, a 25-lap heat race and then a ride in the ambulance following a crash in the LMSC 150 Lap Monday Feature Race.
“I don’t think I have had such a busy day of racing since the last time we raced karts at the Las Vegas Super Nationals,” says Austin. “I just wish we hadn’t gotten collected in that crash on lap 32 and could have gone on to race the full 150. I saw the 01 car spin to the outside in turn 4 as we were coming into 3. Richard – my spotter – was saying stay low and I was thinking no problem, as I’ll just continue to run the inside race line. Then I felt the 30 car turning in on my right quarter panel as he was trying to keep from getting collected and it just pushed me straight into the 01. I felt terrible for our sponsors and the crew because they had done a great job getting the car to work on this flat, I mean very flat track. We were on the move. We started 18th and we were passing the 30 car to take over the 9th spot when it happened. I really think we had a chance at a top 5. I’m not sure we had anything for C.E. and Kyle but for sure we could have driven into the top 5.”
Then Tuesday it was another 2 hours of K&N Practice, a qualifying crash, another ride in the ambulance and then a 150 Lap feature without brakes.
“Holy cow. I thought Monday was a tough day. We missed our sticker run in the final minutes of practice when NASCAR closed the pits, our qualifying session got cut short by 4 laps when a coupling on the steering shaft broke and we ended up in the wall. Then it was a super long bus ride to the infield care center. I have had my vitals checked more in the last two day than I have my whole life. I did become good friends with the EMS crew, they text me a lot now to make sure I’m still ok. But nothing compared to having to drive 100+ laps without brakes last night,” says Self.
“You have to use brakes a lot with these cars on this track and expect glowing rotors, brake fade, boiling fluid and an a lot of pedal pumping. So when we first lost them, Paul [Andrews, Crew Chief] keeps is telling me to pump the pedal and I’m telling him I’m pumping but still don’t have brakes. They never did come back. If anyone tells you how hard this track is drive with one of these cars, ask them how they would like to drive it for 120 laps without brakes. It was tough to stay out there and run 2 seconds off the pace. But finishing was our 1st priority and getting a 17th place finish with no brakes made for a pretty good ending.” says Self.
“I would really like to thank OTX, AMTS, Sellers and Cunningham for their support and hard work and all my friends and family back home for watching. Especially like to thank all the folks that posted words of encouragement on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Their support really helps get through these tough races,” says Self.
Self will now prepare for his next NASCAR K&N Pro East race at the half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway on 3/16.