Austin Nason enjoyed a breakout season on the ARCA Midwest Tour in 2018. He won his first two career Midwest Tour races at Madison International Speedway (WI) and Rockford Speedway (IL) and finished second in series points by just five markers. After ending 2018 with his first start in the Snowball Derby, he heads back south this weekend for his debut in another marquee race in the southeast, The Rattler 250.
The Roscoe, Illinois driver was first approached by track owner John Dykes while at the Snowball Derby last December. With the bitter cold and snow that has hit the Midwest this winter, now is as good of a time as ever for his No. 14 team to make the trek south for their first Rattler.
“The owner of South Alabama Speedway stopped us while we were down at Five Flags to come and it’s always been on the list of tracks to go to,” Nason told Speed51.com. “It’s a pretty big race in the country so we decided to go. We haven’t raced in three months and we’ve been snowed in so we might as well go and enjoy some warmer weather while we’re down there and have some fun.”
Nason’s first Rattler start comes at a time when his team is shifting to a new race car. He says he found something at the Snowball Derby that he could possibly use in the new car, and the Southern Super Series season opener will serve as a testing ground to see what works.
“We just redid some of the car,” Nason explained. “We found some stuff while we were down in Pensacola so we’re going to try it there and hopefully it works. We’re building a new car so we’re hoping to learn some new stuff to take over to that car.”
Though it will be his first time at South Alabama Speedway, he feels like it is similar to two tracks he is familiar with on the ARCA Midwest Tour. He plans to use what he knows at those two tracks, apply them to the Rattler and go from there.
“I’ve never been there but I’ve heard it’s a lot like Dells Raceway Park (WI) and Grundy County Speedway (IL) up here by us,” he stated. “We ran pretty good at those tracks this year so we’re going to take some of those notes with us down there and see if we can hopefully get a top five.”
Nason has seen success recently in long-distance races. He won the ARCA Midwest Tour season-opening Joe Shear Classic 200 at Madison International Speedway (WI) and finished in the top 10 in the Dixieland 250, Oktoberfest, and finished third in the Redbud 400 at Anderson Speedway (IN) with the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
He says his biggest challenge will come early with getting acclimated to the race track. From there, it will be tire management with the abrasiveness the racing surface provides.
“Just getting used to the track. I heard that it wears out tires really bad,” Nason said. “We’ve been really good at the longer races this past year so we’re going to see if we can hold on for 250 laps and try to get a handle on the track as quickly as I can. We only get two days of practice so hopefully in those two days we can learn a lot.”
Nason is looking for a solid run in his first Rattler start this weekend. However, he is not particularly scared of the rattlesnake that visits the winning driver each year.
“I’d love a top five but if we can win this thing it would be pretty amazing. It’d be cool to have a rattlesnake around my neck. Snakes don’t scare me too bad.”
Race fans unable to make it to South Alabama Speedway this weekend can watch Nason and the rest of the star-studded field on Speed51’s live pay-per-view broadcast. Two-day video tickets can be purchased at a discounted price by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com