For 19-year-old Myatt Snider, the 2014 racing season had a tough beginning. But the Belmont resident hopes his seventh-place finish in the recent Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown signals a turnaround.
“It put my name out there,” Snider said about the charity race at the 4/10-mile South Boston (Va.) Speedway. “My car really didn’t like running when the sun was out. I knew it would kind of be that way because we unloaded just OK. What we had gotten from everybody was the way your car came out of the trailer was pretty much how it ran for the rest of the day. I knew as the sun went down our car would get faster so I didn’t worry too much.
“Holding off Denny Hamlin in his own race was definitely a fun thing. It wasn’t easy though.”
Snider, who works full-time at Joe Gibbs Racing on NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Matt Kenseth’s team, caught Hamlin’s attention with his progression from his 30th-place starting position to his seventh-place finish.
“I think he did a really good job,” said the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, who finished eighth in his charity event. “From my standpoint, you could see how he progressed from practice, to qualifying, through the heat races to the race. Very smart; didn’t put himself in any bad positions. He steadily made his way to the front, made great passes. He was in some tough situations sometimes. I saw him a couple of times on restarts late where he was in kinda of a bad spot and he found a way to get himself out of it, preserve his race car and preserve a great finish.”
Snider, a Belmont Abbey College student, began racing at 10. He claimed rookie honors that year in the Bandolero Bandits in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout Series.
At 15, he finished second in that series point standings and third in the 2010 national point battle.
The next year Snider moved up to the Legend cars and placed third in his first outing. The son of NBC and TNT sportscaster Marty Snider competed in more than 100 Legend races, recording 12 victories and top-five finishes in 88 percent of his races.
Snider won Legends track championships at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Concord Speedway. He also claimed the Legends North Carolina State Championship and was runner-up in the 2012 Legends national standings.
Snider moved to the late model ranks last year, driving for his cousin, Jay Hedgecock, a former driver and successful car owner. Competing in 38 races at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, South Boston, Caraway Speedway in Asheboro and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., Snider won at Caraway and posted six top-five and 25 top-10 finishes.
For 2014, Snider’s team, owned by his father, moved to Jeff Caudill’s Four Oaks, shop. Caudill, a veteran racing mechanic and former JR Motorsports employee, is the team’s crew chief and oversees race car preparation. Caudill’s brother, Jamey, is Snider’s driving coach. Veteran spotter Paul Griffin is also a team member.
Snider is a regular this year at Caraway, South Boston and Southern National, competing for track titles as well as NASCAR Whelen All American Series national points. Through early May, Snider was fourth in the late model standings at Southern National and 21st at South Boston.
“There is a very specific reason why I have chosen these three tracks,” said Snider, who trains in CrossFit with his father. “South Boston almost always gets a car count of 20 or more, which is a national points field size. Their competitiveness there is unrivaled. The first couple of races that I ran I was shocked how hard everybody raced the whole time.
“Southern National is the same. They may get one or two cars less, but it’s still just as competitive. Caraway is essentially my home track and it’s where I got my first win. We’ve always been competitive there.”
Since joining JGR last year, Snider said the knowledge he has gained has definitely benefited his racing.
“I started out in the fabrication shop and I learned a ton,” Snider said. “It’s helped me to do servicing on the car when we’ve gotten in a wreck. Helping assemble the 20 car (Kenseth) has helped me learn some aspects about the car I didn’t know before. I’ve learned things about the setup that I never would have learned. Denny, Matt and Kyle (Busch) also have given me a great deal of advice.”
In addition to the weekly short-track races, Snider plans to compete in Martinsville’s fall late model race that normally draws more than 60 entries. He would like to finish his stint in late model racing this year and advance to a hybrid schedule in 2015 that consists of ARCA and NASCAR’s K&N Series.
Mooresville Dragway slates Memorial Day weekend event
The CHRA Memorial Nationals is scheduled for May 23-24 at Mooresville Dragway. The two-day event is for True Street, Performance Street and X275 Outlaws.