Austin McCarl – Making the Big Dance!

Austin McCarl – Making the Big Dance!

Austin McCarl – Making the Big Dance!

(Bill W) August 18, 2011 – Very few drivers at the age of eighteen have locked themselves into the Knoxville Nationals main event, but Austin McCarl added his name to the list last weekend driving the TMAC Motorsports #17A. The Altoona, Iowa driver is one of the “Young Guns” at the Knoxville Raceway and solidly put himself into the first of what should be many Knoxville Nationals main events.

Qualifying on Wednesday night, things started badly with the draw, and Austin would come out 38th in the 45-car field to time. He overcame that obstacle. “It made me pretty nervous going in, drawing a 68 and being one of the last ones to go out,” he says. “I turned a pretty good second lap, though. I thought I could have done a little better, but we were twelfth quick, which was good and it put us in a great spot for the heat race.”

How about a heat that would eventually see the winner and second place car in the Nationals in it? Austin came through it with the fourth and final transfer after a slow start. “I thought we had the toughest heat of the night by far, with (Donny) Schatz, Tyler Walker and Shane Stewart in there,” he says. “We got a horrible start and dropped back to eighth, but I think I drove a smart race and drove my way back up to fourth.”

Getting through the heat race during Nationals week can be the biggest hurdle. “That was huge for points,” says Austin. “It was also huge for my confidence and the team’s confidence heading into the feature. At that point, we were starting third, and just needed a solid finish to get in.”

Part of Austin’s success can be attributed to the track crew at Knoxville. “The track was fast, but wide all night,” he says. “To be able to pass like we did in the heat was big. Also, coming out as late as we did in qualifying and having a good track to race on was good too.”

Starting inside row two, Austin drove to a solid seventh place finish that would put him outside of row six for Saturday’s championship. “It was a great race,” he says. “I was racing with Steve Kinser, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Shane Stewart. When you can run the top and the bottom, that’s all you ask for. I was a little better on the top. It was a good race.”

Obviously, the excitement Saturday was at a high level after anticipating the 50-lap feature for three days. Austin says, “I remember going around in the four-wide and thinking, ‘This is some pretty cool (stuff)! Going into the frontstretch start, I was just thinking to myself, don’t get tight like Kerry Madsen did the night before (Race of Champions).”

Unfortunately, his fears were realized. As the green flag dropped, Austin made it one corner before getting upside down. “I got up on two wheels and the right front dug into the ground,” he says. “I just shut my eyes after that. I was just along for the ride!”

Despite the crash, Austin has a sense of accomplishment and knows that this was an important time in his career. “It was great,” he says of making the field. “Last year, we missed it by a few spots. This year, coming in, people asked me my goal and I really didn’t know. Obviously, I wanted to make the show, but I just wanted to do the best I could. Everyone wants to make the main event, and we achieved that goal. Unfortunately, it was pretty short-lived.”

Austin knows he couldn’t do it on his own. “First, I have to thank the Berryhill family and,” he says. “Without them, I wouldn’t be able to have the success that we’ve been having this year. That goes for all our partners. We have so many great people involved.”

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Austin would like to thank, Rossie Feed and Grain, DeBerg Concrete, Deanfield Farms, Phil and Vivian, L. Wayne Trucking, Vortex, CM Rock, Mark Burch Motorsports, Engler, HRP, Aurora Rod Ends, Butlerbuilt, KSE, Hoosier Tire, BRMS, K&N Filters, Sander, Jocko's Sprint Parts, Crow Safety and Bell Helmets for all their help!

Bill W Media
Monroe, IA USA

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Americash Advance
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Hoosier Racing Tires
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