Any doubts as to whether Austin Self could transfer his Karting skills to Stock Car racing were dispelled Saturday night when the 14 year-old Karting Champion lead half the Texas Super Racing Series Late Model feature, clicked off the fastest race lap of the evening and finished third behind veteran drivers Robert Barker and Bobby Teer, Jr.
Starting from the pole in his first-ever stock car race and his first oval track race, there was skepticism among the veterans drivers behind him as to what kind of start he would give the field and what might play out in turn one.
When asked if he was nervous about starting on the pole, Austin replied, “I’ve started from the pole a hundred times before. Just not in a car on an oval,” he said with a big grin. “But seriously, I’m used to leading the field into one (turn). I’m just wondering if the cars behind me are going to stay in line or try something crazy.”
Sure enough, when the Late Model field came roaring out of four and headed into one on the start, Austin looked every bit the veteran driver as he stood on the gas and got up on the wheel. The only car keeping up by the time they crossed the stripe to complete the first lap was number 17 Ford of Robert Barker. It was a two car breakaway with Barker on his tail until the field regrouped following a lap-five yellow. It didn’t take long for Teer to join the group as the trio pulled away from the rest of the 12-car field.
They would stay in that order until lap 26 when Self went too hot into turn four trying to shake Barker and lost the car in the marbles. Barker and Teer slipped by but Self was able to keep the car off the wall and get it back down on the track to hold off the rest of the field.
“It amazed me that he was able to get the car back before hitting the wall. Most drivers would have over corrected and slammed the wall,” said his spotter, Curtis Drosche. The race would finish in that order, with Austin setting the fastest lap of the race and finishing third.
“I owe Heath (Stewart) and (Crew Chief) JR an apology. If I hadn’t lost the car in 4, I may have been able to give them the win that they deserve. The FEP Chevrolet handled well from the beginning to the end. I also need to thank Chris Baker and Curtis for the coaching and spotting. Thanks to my family, friends and all my fans out there for all the moral support they gave me leading up to this 1st race. Oh yeah, and good luck to my sister. She has finals at TCU next week,“ said Austin.
When asked what’s next Austin replied, “Well, we head to Indy and then on in to South Bend, Indiana next week for a WKA National Kart race. Then, it’s back home to Texas for some more Late Model Racing the week after that.”
For more information about Austin Self, check out his website at http://www.AustinSelf.com.
The Texas Super Racing Series website can be found at http://www.texassuperracingseries.com.
Special Report by Nick Holt, Lone Star Speedzone (http://www.lonestarspeedzone.com).