Bristol Motor Speedway is a race track that can intimidate even the toughest veteran race car drivers. However, that isn’t stopping the youth of the sport from testing the high banks during the inaugural Short Track U.S. Nationals this upcoming weekend. Among those youthful drivers is 14-year-old Pro Late Model driver Michael Clancy, Jr.
The Ortonville, Michigan teenager ran last year full time in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour for rookie honors and is running for DuroByte Motorsports full time this season. One of the stops on the schedule includes Bristol and the young driver is one of the many who was initially a little hesitant.
“It’s kind of really intimidating to take on a place like Bristol because it’s so big and it can seat so many people,” Clancy told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s intimidating being only fourteen and having all these people around you.”
While racing on a stage as big as Bristol with a national audience watching on Speed51.com’s pay-per-view broadcast may be new to this youngster, the speed is something he’s fortunate to have experience with.
“I’ve ran Winchester a few times last year as well as Salem so I kind of get the banking and the speed of the track, but it’s different getting around on the bottom of Bristol the first few laps. “
Fortunately, Clancy isn’t going into the battle at Bristol alone as he has an important person in his corner as a driver coach. Jimmy Smith has coached many drivers to success including current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series competitor Erik Jones. He will be helping Clancy throughout the 2017 season, including at Bristol.
Smith said he “sees a lot of a young Erik in Michael” and the potential there is plenty.
Knowing the importance of seat time and experience, Clancy is thankful to have someone like Smith coaching him.
“It feels really good to have him on my side and I feel like he knows a lot,” Clancy stated. “We have talked about a lot and he tells me ‘by the end of this you’re going to have just as many years of experience.’”
With plenty of competition in Pro Late Model division, Clancy and his team are setting realistic expectations with hopes of building on the experience as they chase a championship on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour.
“Our expectations for this race are really to just get comfortable with the car and being up on the speed charts and being around the middle to the front of everything and not really lagging back,” Clancy said.
The Short Track U.S. Nationals kick off this weekend May 19-21 at Bristol Motor Speedway. For those Clancy fans unable to make the trip South to Tennessee, Speed51.com will have a live pay-per-view broadcast of the event available for purchase. Video tickets can be purchased at an early bird discount until Friday at midnight.
Story by: Hannah Newhouse- Southeast Correspondent- Twitter: @Hannahnewhouse
Photo By: Speed51.com