When torrential rain flooded the infield of Five Flags Speedway and caused the Allen Turner Hyundai Snowflake 100 to be postponed a week to Saturday, December 8th, one driver was ecstatic about the decision. That driver was Dylan Smith, who is attempting to run his first race in more than year in the Snowflake 100.
Smith, also known by his nickname of "Black Mamba," and a crew member with MDM Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East ranks, hadn’t been in a race car to turn laps since the 2017 Myrtle Beach 400 weekend before climbing aboard a Pro Late Model for practice last Thursday.
After six practice sessions, Smith never got any higher on that charts than 30th, but he was gaining speed and confidence every time he went out on the track.
When the event was postponed a week, last week’s activities basically became a glorified test session. Now, Smith is able to head back to Pensacola with a full notebook and a bunch of practice laps under his belt.
“Dude, I’m so excited,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “Honestly, I was probably the only one that was happy that the thing got rained out.”
Just getting to Pensacola the first time was a tall task for Smith and his team. The car he was originally planning on racing was sold about two weeks before it was time to load up and make the trip south. That led them to scramble to find a new race car.
“So I got this car,” explained Smith. “We only had it for five days before it had to be loaded in the trailer to go down to Pensacola and we had to flip it from a Super. There was a lot going on just to get it into the hauler.”
After getting down to Pensacola, the workload didn’t get any easier. Smith had a small crew of just a handful of guys, with other friends such as Brandon McReynolds and Matt Petree coming by in between other responsibilities to help out when possible.
Two of Smith’s other good friends, NASCAR Cup Series drivers Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Ryan Blaney also helped out with Blaney’s “Glass Case of Emotion” podcast adorning the hood of Smith’s No. 44 Movember-sponsored Pro Late Model and Wallace helping out with the cost of tires.
“I had enough money to do all of my tire stuff. I had enough to go run and then I lost a sponsor. I still had enough to go do it, but it was going to be a pretty big lick out of my personal pocket, which you just make it happen. I hit up Darrell and I said, ‘Hey man, I ran into trouble. Can you help me out with a set of tires?’ He asked ‘Well, how many do people run down there?’ I said usually people buy like four sets, but that’s not what I’m going to do. He said, ‘Yeah man, I got you for four.’ In my mind, I thought he was talking about four tires. That’s all I asked for was one set. I get over to his house and he asked how much it was. I said it’s about 700. He said ‘For four sets?’ I said ‘No, for four tires.’ He said, ‘Well I’m going to get you four sets.’
“Dude, I about lost it. That’s way more than I was thinking to have in mind and more than I was ever going to ask somebody to do. He’s not a sponsor. He’s a friend. We’ve been friends for almost ten years now since the Drive for Diversity. Him helping me out was huge. It was at the eleventh hour of it. It’s good to have good people around you and good friends.”
With tires ready, laps under his belt and another week of preparation put into the car, Smith feels that he now is ready and able to make the Snowflake 100 and be competitive as well.
“I learned a lot being able to watch qualifying. I feel like I know what I need to do and where I need to run to be fast. You can’t emphasize enough about wrapping the bottom. Even if you get down there early, you’ve just got to get down there. Watching Harrison rip off that lap in qualifying for the Derby showed me a lot. I’m pretty pumped about it now.”
While other drivers such as Bubba Pollard, Jeff Choquette, and Stephen Nasse compete in the Snowflake 100 expecting nothing less than a win, Smith said his goals are a bit more modest and realistic.
“I want to run around the top 15. I want to have a shot at a top 10. From there it’s all bonus. I just want to be competitive. I feel like we should make the race. That’s never really been a doubt in my mind about making the race. I don’t just want to make the race. I want to be competitive in the race and have a strong run. If we can have a strong run in the race, then we’ll see how the chips fall when the checkered flies, but that makes it a success.”
Race fans can watch Smith race in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 live on Speed51.com on Saturday, December 8thby clicking here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com