AUDIO/FEATURE: Cunningham Motorsports puts confidence in one Self for 2014 campaign

Jacob Seelman ARCA, Audio, Carolinas Racing, Featured, Southeast, Southwest, Stock Cars, West 0 Comments

January 15, 2014 — Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Self Racing photo via Facebook — MOORESVILLE, N.C. — In Self We Trust.

Such will be the motto for Cunningham Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series for the 2014 season. After their long-time driver Tom Hessert elected to step back from full-time competition for the 2014 season, Briggs Cunningham and his team looked to the impending youth movement for their 2014 driver selection, and have found their full-time competitor in 17-year-old Austin Wayne Self.

Self, a fast-rising talent born in Austin, Texas (coincidentally enough), has spent more than half his life behind the wheel of any and all types of race cars. His love for racing began at age 4 when he and his father Tim began racing go-karts together as a bonding experience, which Austin promptly went out and won. That moment solidified his love for the sport, and he hasn’t lost the adrenaline rush since.

Beginning his professional traveling race career from 11-14, Austin traveled across the United States, competing in events from the Florida Winter Tour to the WKA Manufacturer’s Cup; the Karting Super Nationals and more. As a karter, Self racked up numerous accolades including 11 WKA National Cups, the WKA Grand National Championship, the TAG World Championship and the Rock Island Grand Prix Championship.

Self’s original dream was to compete in the Indianapolis 500 due to his family’s roots being in Indiana. However, in late 2010, those plans shifted as Austin began competing in late models and modifieds at the NASCAR-sanctioned Thunderhill Raceway.

The young man who once fancied himself a professional open-wheel competitor quickly developed a passion for the power and excitement of Late Model and Pro Modified race cars, and thus, the transition to full-bodied stock cars began.

“I mean, the Indianapolis 500 is always going to hold a very special place in my heart; my family is from Indiana and that race is the biggest race in the world, but when I got in the late model for the first time, it was like a whole other side of the racing world opened up to me,” Self explained in a recent interview with Race Chaser Online.

For the next two seasons, Self would compete in a variety of late model and modified events across the eastern half of the United States, driving for his family team in 2011 and scoring a season-opening Thunderhill victory on his very first day of NASCAR eligibility, his 15th birthday. Self would jump to Sellers Racing in 2012 and race primarily on the East Coast visiting legendary tracks including Motor Mile Speedway, South Boston Speedway, Langley and Caraway Speedways, Richmond International Raceway, and Southern National Motorsports Park. The highlight of that 2012 season came with an invite to the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, where the Texas teen finished 19th among some of the best drivers in the nation.

And then, came the call from Cunningham.

“At the time it was just surreal,” said Self of the deal to drive a partial K&N Pro Series East schedule and select ARCA Racing Series events for the Paul Andrews-led team. “This past season turned out to be even stronger than I expected and now we’re just looking ahead to ’14.”

The 2013 season may not have produced a win, but did showcase five runner-up results between Late Model and Modified competition, continuing the brand of versatility behind the wheel that Self is known for. Highlights of last season’s campaign included a strong sixth-place result for Self in his ARCA debut at Toledo Speedway, a top-ten result in the K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond International Raceway, and a near-victory at the legendary Winchester Speedway in ARCA competition, where he nearly nabbed the win away from Frank Kimmel.

“I can’t look at this past season and see anything down about it. Only miss was we didn’t get to Victory Lane. We had a lot of great runs, ran some East races, six ARCA races, and ran Phoenix in November out west. I feel like we built a lot of momentum for the 2014 season and I can’t wait to get started.”

Self will get the chance to get started in just over a month’s time when the ARCA Racing Series makes their season-opening trip to the World Center of Racing, Daytona International Speedway. In advance of a full-time run for Rookie of the Year and for the season championship, the Texan has spent a lot of testing time with the Cunningham operation.

Self most recently completed a test session on the high banks of Daytona in advance of the Lucas Oil 200, timing in second-quick during one of the drafting sessions, and said it was a dream come true to finally race on the prestigious surface.

“The Daytona test was…like something out of a dream. I mean, that’s every stock car racer’s goal, is to make laps at Daytona, the biggest race track of them all. It was amazing the first time I pulled out there. My parents might have been a little nervous though,” Self laughed.

Through it all though, he’s still been the kid living a dream, and impressing every person he meets along the way.

“I’m just me; just a kid from Texas living the dream. And 2014 is gonna be the biggest dream yet that I’ve had a chance to realize.”

 

Listen in as we talked with Austin about his upcoming 2014 season, his expectations and goals for the full ARCA season with Cunningham Motorsports:

 

About Austin Wayne Self

Austin Wayne Self, a 17-year-old NASCAR driver from Texas, races for Cunningham Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series.  Self has 5 NASCAR wins in less than 2 seasons and has racked up 24 career Top 5 finishes.  Self has also won 14 career national and world Karting championships, having competed since age 4. Self’s career goal is to race NASCAR Sprint Cup and do one-off IndyCar races at the Indianapolis 500.

Facebook.com/AustinWSelf is the primary bridge to everything Austin Self and allows fans to follow him on his daily behind the scenes journey with photos, videos and anecdotes! With fans in over 45 countries, Austin Wayne Self is quickly becoming a global racing fan’s favorite. Self’s primary following is based in the United States and has grown exponentially in the past year. Austin takes the time to reply and post to all of his fans throughout every race weekend, and even during the week. In 2014 you can expect more photos, videos and much more. You can also follow Austin on Twitter @AustinWSelf and Instagram, AustinWayneSelf.

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