As one of the first members of the new Driver’s Edge Development program put together by JR Motorsports and GMS Racing, Sam Mayer‘s schedule is filled with diversity for the 2019 in an effort to get him experience.
After kicking off the year with a solid fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna Speedway, he will be running the ARCA Menards Racing Series event at 5 Flags Speedway this weekend.
As he prepared for the weekend ahead, Mayer shared his thoughts entering the ARCA Pennscola 200 and more.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts heading into this weekend’s ARCA race?
SAM MAYER: I’m really excited. I think the team has a really good car put together. We went out and tested last week, and I feel like we were really strong. I mean, we feel like we have a little bit to work on, like little stuff like the track bar, but overall I feel like we have a really good car and can contend for probably a good top-five finish.
PS: What’s the biggest challenge of 5 Flags Speedway compared to other short tracks?
SAM: Definitely the tire wear is a big thing. I mean, obviously the Snowball Derby is just one of those races that are really grueling and you have to be on your toes, and save your stuff. I think the ARCA race will be the same way. You have to just save your stuff until the break and you’re able to get new tires, because you only get six tires. So it’s going to be about saving your tires and your stuff, but having the track position to pounce when the race is over.
PS: You were able to run a pair of ARCA races last season. What’s the biggest thing you learned during those that you feel will benefit you heading into this weekend?
SAM: I think overall this season is more competitive than last season, not to say last year was competitive at all. It was a really intense season last year, but this year this is so many big names coming into the sport and I feel like last year being in the series having that experience will help a lot. But the competition is going to be really high here, so we just have to do everything we can to get a good finish.
PS: New Smyrna was a mix of ups and downs for you, with the K&N Pro Series and the late model. What are your thoughts as you look back on that?
SAM: The K&N Race was very good. I feel like we could’ve finished a little bit better if we would’ve made a bigger adjustment on the first break when we pitted, but honestly that’s my fault in just trying to learn and figuring out what happens to the car over a long run.
But the Super Late Model – I don’t really know what to say about that. It’s really unfortunate we didn’t get the finishes we wanted. We were going down there to win, just wasn’t able to make it happen. We were chasing the track all week. It’s just one of those deals where you just got to move on.
PS: Your schedule is pretty diverse this season. How much of a challenge is it going from one vehicle to the other?
SAM: The K&N and ARCA car are really similar, so going back and forth between those two isn’t too drastic; it’s really just horsepower. But when we go super late model racing and TransAm Racing, that’s completely different and that’s just more or less for experience. So I don’t really take those for competitive, but rather just for learning, like road courses and stuff like that in the bigger cars. The Super Late Model is more so for the competitiveness of the series.
PS: Looking at your schedule, what track and series are you most excited for?
SAM: I’m really excited for the K&N Series this year, just because the competition is really high and I feel like we have a shot to win a lot of races and the championship. The Truck race – I’m really excited for that with Bristol and Martinsville and those short tracks over in the south. I’m just really excited for the experience I am going to get this year.
PS: I was just going to ask actually, but what does it mean for you to get that chance to move up in your racing career to the Gander Outdoor Truck Series?
SAM: It’s just getting experience this year. We’re going for a K&N Championship, but everything else we’re doing this year is just for pure experience and I’m just really excited due to having a great GMS Racing team behind me with Marty Lindley as a crew chief. He’s a big name in racing and he just knows how to win, so we’re going out here and going for that.
PS: As a young driver, how beneficial is it to be surrounded by the veterans at both GMS and JRM for advice with the Drivers Edge Development program?
SAM: It’s huge just have to everyone else like that’s older and more knowledgeable than I am. Like I said, I am young and still learning, so it’s just a big thing to hear the little things that they’re saying, whether it’s sway-bar inside the car or on-track stuff.
It’s really great to have a lot of mentors in the sport as there’s so many people that are helping me that have been in the sport for a long time, like Lorin Ranier. He’s a huge mentor for me because he knows so much about the sport.
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