This is the second in a series from the perspective of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Austin Wayne Self. Each week the Austin, Texas native will provide a recap of the previous race from a unique view — the seat of his No. 22 truck.
Self returned home to the Lone Star State on Saturday for the second time in the last three races at the SpeedyCashy.com 220 at Texas Motor Speedway. He endured blazing-hot temperatures, a hot Austin Hill who flipped him the bird, and a rough pit stop en route to a 15th-place finish to stay in contention for the playoffs.
Austin Wayne Self experiences deja vu with Sheldon Creed in Stage 1 at Texas
Austin Wayne Self started the race on the 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway from the 13th spot and immediately fell back in the field once the green flag dropped. Just seven laps into the race, he experienced a case of deja vu when Sheldon Creed wrecked in front of him. The same thing happened two weeks ago at Charlotte.
While it might have looked similar on television as the No. 22 truck avoided a No. 2 truck that got loose, hit the wall, and moved down the track, Self said it never really was a concern.
“Things were a little bit more calm,” Self admitted. “The spotter is on the radio telling me car in the wall. There’s smoke up there and you see him come out of the smoke. So my initial thought, it didn’t seem as urgent as last week. It was close, but it felt calculated close. I was coming up to the scene and felt comfortable. By the time I got to him, I knew that we were good.”
Watching Creed wreck so early in the race made him think about the conditions of the track and what it could mean for the rest of the day.
“I started questioning stuff,” he said. “Was it partly the race track? Is this going to bring more cautions? Is this an indicator of how the race might play out?”
Austin Hill flips the bird at him late in the race
After finishing seventh in stage 1 as the top Chevrolet in the field, Austin Wayne Self encountered pit problems late in stage 2 and dropped back to 24th. He methodically made his way up through the field in the final stage, eventually moving into 12th while many of the top trucks pitted.
In 17th spot with 16 laps to go in the race and a lap down, Self found himself battling for position with Austin Hill. Unaware that Hill was on the lead lap, Self followed his spotter’s guidance and raced the No. 16 car hard. After the two trucks made contact coming down the front stretch, Self’s spotter told him about Hill’s position and instructed him to let Hill pass. That’s when Hill let Self know what he thought about the situation.
“So I let him go and he wasn’t very happy,” Self said. “I followed him all the way from the exit of two to three and he drove with one hand on the steering wheel and was giving me the finger all the way down the backstretch. And I’m just kind of laughing. At this point, I really didn’t know the whole time. I didn’t feel like I was in the way, regardless. To him, he’s frustrated. I’ve been in those positions and understand that. I’m going down the backstretch and he’s got his finger out the window and I’m driving the car and I’m waving.”
Self talks about the uncomfortable heat inside the truck
Following the incident with Hill, Self finished the race in 16th but in the official results ended 15th after Ross Chastain was disqualified for a throttle-body violation. Self said the competition at Texas Motor Speedway was challenging enough with Cup drivers like Chastain and 2020 champion Chase Elliott in the field, but he and the rest of the drivers had to battle the temperatures all day long, which reached 135 degrees inside the truck.
“It was definitely the hottest race of the season so far and I talked to a few guys and the last one that we can really remember being that hot was the Daytona road course last year,” Self said surprised.
He said that he never worried about making it to the end because he had loaded up on bottles of Pedialyte since Thursday, but during the caution, he admitted in those hot conditions, your mind can play tricks on you.
“It is so uncomfortable. Naturally, your mind is telling you, get out of this. You don’t want to be here,” Self admitted. “You kind of have to play tricks on your mind just saying it’s not too bad. I mean you are sticking your hand out the window just trying to get whatever air in the car. Try to get a fresh breath of 105-degree air because that feels a lot better than 135.”
It was unquestionably a hot day in Texas with both tempers and temperature. In the end, Self overcame the challenges and his finish keeps him right in the middle of the playoff picture in the 13th spot heading into next weekend’s race at Nashville.