FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Austin Nemire always looks to take home a trophy when he comes to a race track to compete, but his plan of attack is going to be a little bit different this year when he rolls out to qualify during the 20th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne.
“We just need to survive and make the show,” Nemire said. “If you’re in it, you can win it.”
Nemire came in as a 14-year-old and cracked the code to making his first-ever Rumble A-Main in his first attempt, finishing sixth in the Friday night A-Main after transferring in by winning his heat race.
Ever since then, it’s been mostly downhill, as various mechanical woes and other issues out of his control kept Nemire from a repeat appearance in the big dance until last year’s finale, when he won his heat race for the second time and ultimately finished ninth in the main event.
That stretch included an opening night mishap in 2015, in which Nemire qualified for the feature but wasn’t actually able to start after a mechanical failure during the warmup laps after his car was pushed off.
“After going there my first year (in 2013) and making the feature our very first time ever there, it set the bar pretty high,” Nemire admits. “Now, the last few years, we’ve come back to try and replicate that and all the little things that could go wrong did and put us so much further behind than we expected. Saturday of last year finally worked in our favor a bit, but it’s still been a long road for us.”
That means that this go-round, there’s no expectations for Nemire, at least in his mind.
“In all honesty, all the bad luck we’ve had has probably taken the bar and set it back to nothing,” said Nemire. “Now, I just want to come back to the Rumble, make the shows and have a couple good, consistent nights. As racers, we always go into a race wanting to win … but I’ve said that the last few years and a bunch of stupid stuff has happened, so I don’t want to jinx it (laughs).”
“I’m just looking forward to getting back inside the (Allen County Memorial) Expo Center and putting our car in the show. Hopefully some good luck will come our way from there.”
Despite the dark cloud that’s hung over his head over the past few years on Christmas or New Year’s weekend, Nemire explained that his mindset over how to make the show has stayed the same.
“My perspective on the race itself really hasn’t changed all that much,” said Nemire. “It’s pretty much all the same guys running it now that did when I was 14 and making my first start. It’s the same format and the same path to the main, really. If we can keep the car in one piece and keep all the little issues out of the way, we should be set for a good weekend.”
Nemire circled qualifying as key to his, and anyone else’s, chances at advancement.
“Anywhere you go, especially at the Rumble, you’re going to need some luck on your side. How you qualify is always important, though. That sets you up for your heat races and can really determine your whole night, honestly. If you don’t make it out of a heat, then you fall back on your time for the consi (lineup) and if you didn’t do well on single-lap speed, you’re probably in trouble.”
However, he knows it won’t be easy, especially with nine-time Rumble champion and retired three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart making his long-awaited return to action after a four-year absence.
“With the competition that’s going to be there this year … I think it’s going to be even tougher than usual,” Nemire said. “Tony (Stewart) is coming back, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no better competition in the country than him when it comes to this event and this style of racing.”
“It’s going to be fierce and I can’t wait to give it another go.”
Race Chaser Online will have live updates of the 20th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne during both race days on Friday and Saturday.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
Email Race Chaser Online: [email protected]
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews