20-year-old race car driver Dalton Armstrong lives a life that is quite different from most young drivers hoping to get their shot at NASCAR’s top levels. Armstrong, a native of New Castle, Indiana, grew up in the farming business. His family owns a local farm that raises corn and soy beans, and with that comes a huge responsibility for Armstrong off of the race track.
Last Saturday, Armstrong scored his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour win at Springport Speedway (MI) driving for car owner Scott Neal. But that was just the highlight of a busy day that included little to no sleep for the driver of the No. 4 Late Model.
Prior to the race on Saturday, Armstrong had been in the fields on a tractor all Friday night until 3 am on Saturday morning when he needed to be at the team hauler to leave for Springport. According to Armstrong, he was able to get a few hours of sleep in the RV on the way to the race track but that would be the only sleep he would get until 3 am Sunday morning.
He got to the race track on Saturday, practiced, raced and won the highly-competitive season opener for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour. The team then drove back home to Indiana around midnight, where a farm truck was waiting for him to go straight to work in the fields. He worked until about 3 am in the morning before taking another short three-hour nap and getting back out into the fields for the rest of the day on Sunday.
“It’s fun,” Armstrong told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Right now it’s a busy time planting and it gives me something to do when I’m not racing. It keeps me busy. I enjoy farming and racing, hand in hand.”
Over the course of the past three weeks, Armstrong and his family have been laying down hydrants and preparing the ground for this year’s crop. The work required to maintain a large crop is certainly hard labor, but it’s labor that he knows needs to get done before he gets behind the wheel of a racecar.
“It’s good to go and work,” Armstrong stated. “I just moved into my own house. Its work hard, play hard I guess. Work hard and then you get rewarded by going and racing, really. It’s kind of how we afford to be able to go racing. Farming comes first so that we can be able to race.”
Although he knows it needs to be done, that doesn’t make the hard labor any easier for the young driver. The three-day span last weekend that included the race at Springport was one that would make even the most seasoned farmers fatigued.
“The only time I really got any sleep was on the way to Springport,” said Armstrong. “I slept in the RV and that’s really the only time I got any sleep. As soon as I got back that night they needed some help until about 2 or 3 in the morning.”
Although Armstrong said that kind of schedule isn’t required year round, he did say it’s required during planting season when seeds need to go into the ground.
“When it comes time, you’ve just got to get the seeds in the ground as soon as you can,” Armstrong said. “It’s not bad. It’s just for a couple weeks you’ve got to work really hard. There’s always stuff that has to be done. You get your two hard months in the spring and then three or four hard months in the fall. Everything else is normal work days.
“Come summer it kind of dies down and I get more free time. That’s when we’re racing more so it’s not as bad.”
On the race track, Armstrong is eyeing a break-out season in 2015. He picked up his first win in February at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and followed that up with his first touring series win last Saturday. With momentum on his side, he’s eying more wins and the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title in 2015.
In addition to his All-Stars Tour schedule, Armstrong will also be making a handful of starts in Scott Neal’s Super Late Model. He’ll be competing in the ARCA/CRA Super Series event at Berlin Raceway (MI) on May 16 before chasing the Triple Crown that includes the Berlin 251, Redbud 300 and Winchester 400.
It’s hard to imagine any sort of correlation between Armstrong’s racing on the track and farming off the track, but each time he straps into a race car Armstrong is able to carry a valuable life lesson with him that he’s learned during his time working on the farm.
“You get out of what you put in. The harder that you work, you’re going to reap what you sow.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com