FRANKLIN, Wis. – Fans may have to excuse Sam Mayer if he’s still basking in the glow of his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory, picked up earlier this month at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
It was so dominating a performance that it not only left Mayer beaming, and rightfully so, but he’s struggled to put it into words since then because of that fact.
Mayer swept both Friday practice sessions, qualified on the pole with a new track record and followed that up by leading every lap of the Zombie Auto 150 for a perfect weekend at the concrete half-mile.
Even two weeks removed from his incredible accomplishment, Mayer was still somewhat at a loss for words in describing his emotions.
“When you have a weekend like we did at Bristol, you have to try and appreciate it because that type of dominance doesn’t come along very often. It’s still hard to describe, but everyone at GMS Racing did their part to bring the best race car possible to the race track for me,” said Mayer. “I really didn’t have an excuse to not go out and put it in victory lane, I felt like. We were that good the entire weekend. Winning like that at a great track like Bristol really does mean a lot to me.
“It was pretty surprising, and honestly I think the momentum we have now is pretty crazy.”
During his earliest laps at the concrete half mile, Mayer wasn’t sure what his No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet would have against the rest of the field, but he found something in practice that “just stuck.”
“Early on in the weekend at Bristol, when the Xfinity Series and all the other big cars went out, the bottom (groove) wasn’t there at all,” Mayer recalled. “If you went down there, you’d get so free that you couldn’t keep the car down there and couldn’t get any drive (off the corner). Our race, though, was hammer down … and I don’t know what exactly caused it, but we needed to be right around the bottom.
“About 20 laps in, we found one area in (turns) one and two where once I got in it, my car wouldn’t leave the low groove if I tried,” he added with a laugh. “It was so good and turned so well. It couldn’t have been better for me.”
That assessment was accurate, considering that Mayer took over the K&N East championship lead by virtue of his weekend sweep at Bristol, moving to the top of the heap by three points over fellow Wisconsin native Derek Kraus.
Despite his new position at the top of the standings, however, Mayer was most proud of his commemorative sword, the traditional prize given to all Bristol winners after they conquer The Last Great Coliseum.
“I’d say the sword is one of the most unique trophies I’ve ever won. It’s at least right up there (near the top),” he said. “I have one trophy from the Shamrock Shuffle in Legend cars … and it has this weird-looking leprechaun nutcracker on it that’s pretty interesting, but that’s the only one that comes close.
“I couldn’t even take it straight home, because I had to fly back out of Bristol … and I don’t think the flight attendants would have liked me having a sword on the plane,” Mayer added. “My team had to bring it to the ARCA race at Salem the next weekend so that I could bring it back home.”
As he referenced, Mayer hasn’t slowed down much since his Bristol clinic, finishing second in a waterlogged and rain-shortened ARCA stop at Indiana’s Salem Speedway on April 14.
However, five days later – as part of his self-dubbed “Bristol victory tour” – Mayer got the opportunity to take in and throw out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers Major League Baseball game.
It was a rare chance for the teenager to slow down for a night, and he enjoyed every minute of it.
“Having the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers game means a lot. The atmosphere was amazing and the game was very enjoyable,” Mayer noted. “I got pretty close to getting a strike, but it wasn’t quite perfect!
“I guess that’s why I’m a race car driver,” he laughed.
Mayer will return to action and continue his pursuit of the K&N East title on May 4 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, recognizing that both he and GMS Racing are already in a strong position for success.
“This is the kind of start we envisioned ourselves having and hoped we could put together,” he noted. “I couldn’t be happier with this group and where we’re at right now. It’s been a whole lot of fun already.”