Austin Wayne Self earns career-best second Truck Series finish at Daytona
AM Racing driver Austin Wayne Self had to play the strategy game during Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
The strategy paid off to near perfection as Self was able to negotiate past a wild last lap backstretch melee to earn a second-place finish to kick off his 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season.
In practice Thursday, Self, 20, focused solely on single-truck runs given AM Racing’s newly introduced 32 team did not have owner points to fall back on as did their 22 Team
That focus paid off with Self qualifying 22nd on Friday afternoon.
Just two laps into the race, a 17-truck accident occurred entering Turn 1 causing some front-end damage to Self’s No. 32 Don’t Mess with Texas Toyota Tundra.
Quick work instructed by crew chief Bill Henderson sent the Texan back into the race on the lead lap.
For the remaining two stages, Self kept his truck out of trouble and on the lead lap knowing if he didn’t suffer any further damage he would be a contender during the third 60-lap stage shootout.
Throughout the final stage, Self kept his sights on the leaders, while hovering between 10th and 13th.
When a caution waived less than five laps from the finish, it set the tone for a chaotic finish.
Restarting 12th on a green, white, checker, Self charged up the middle with a run to seventh before moving to the bottom going into turn 1 for a final push to the checkered flag.
When trucks began spinning and flying through the air on the backstretch, the Austin, Texas native stayed on the gas, drove his truck to the bottom and cleared the carnage to emerge to a second-place finish when the field was frozen under caution.
Along with Self’s career-best run, AM Racing Teammate J.J. Yeley scored his personal Truck Series best at the 2.5-mile superspeedway with a ninth place run in the No. 22 Legrand / Superior Essex Toyota.
The effort was Self’s first top-five finish and second career top-10 in 23 races. Self also bested his Daytona performance from last February at the “World Center of Racing” where he finished 19th.
“What an unbelievable night for our AM Racing team,” said Self. “For putting this team together three weeks ago, a second-place finish in Daytona says a lot about our Program. I can’t thank Bill (Henderson, Crew Chief) enough, our guys on the AM Racing Team and of course our AM Racing partners, especially AM Technical Solutions and B&D Industries Inc. Thanks to Toyota and the Born in Texas Toyota Tundra. Big gratitude to Mark Cronquist and the Joe Gibbs Engine Shop.
“We’ll look for some more of these types of runs this season.”
Team principal Tim Self said he was extremely appreciative and humbled by the performance of his two teams Friday night.
“Great Team effort!,” said Tim Self.” Kevin Cywinski (Director of Competition) and the entire shop came together and worked their butts off the last two weeks getting two ARCA teams and two Truck teams to Daytona on back to back weekends. I’m just grateful to be part of this team.”
“I was proud to see both work very well together during the race and on that last lap, both drivers did their best with all the chaos and we came away with a top-five and top-10 finish. Other than a win, it doesn’t get much better than that. It may have not been the win, but it sure feels like one.”
For the season-opener, Self drew additional support for the race from Don’t Mess with Texas, Go Texan and their partners Hardcore Carnivore and Big Red. Techline, Snaptrack and JB Henderson Construction as associate.
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a double-header with the XFINITY Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Active Pest Control 200 on Sat., Mar. 4.
AM Racing PR
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