MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Austin Nemire’s initial foray into the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series was about getting accustomed to the car and the new tracks he had yet to turn a wheel on at the time.
Going into last year’s opener, Nemire and the team felt confident in taking the next step to compete for top-fives on a regular basis. However, right from the get-go, a black cloud of frustration hung over the team that put an obstacle in their way of achieving that.
Now, the 19-year-old Sylvania, Ohio, native is eager to put 2018 behind him and take the next step to compete up front regularly on the series’ trail beginning with the March 22-23 Memphis 100 at Memphis Int’l Raceway, and erase the mechanical gremlins that plagued he and his team last year.
“It was frustrating to be running pretty decent, not great, at Phoenix last year, then have overheating issues,” Nemire recalled. “That was discouraging to start like that right off the bat, then turn around a get a new motor (to us) and make only five laps at Madison (Wisc.) International Raceway before having issues there. It’s a pretty frustrating experience overall, but to be able to learn from that because each race you kind of take for granted.”
Each race is a new race and each year brings with it a new season and a new outlook. Though he keeps his goals humble, Nemire fully expects to take that next leap into being a threat at the front of the pack.
“Each race means a lot as far as end of the year points,” Nemire pointed out. We’re running for points, but we’re not really running to win a championship. It’s about going out there each race and improving and running consistent. We have to keep the motor together, take the experience from last year of not getting to run all the races and go into this year with a positive attitude. It’s one race at a time.”
While his best-ever series’ finish of third at Gateway came on the pavement, Nemire believes in the full package of competing on both the dirt and pavement, seeking the versatility on each surface that it takes to be successful in the series after securing a pair of eighth-place finishes down the stretch last season at Springfield and Du Quoin.
“I think if we can keep it together on the pavement side of things, we should be alright. Other than that, we’re sticking with the same dirt car. I think we made pretty good ground on that last year. We’re heading into the year with a positive mindset. Hopefully we’ll be able to run all the shows and just keep improving each race.”
Nemire’s first visit to Memphis Int’l Raceway comes this weekend, March 22-23, on the D-shaped pavement track. While a solid start at the opener a year ago began with a bright outlook before being forced to the sidelines by the midway point, the 2014 USAC HPD Midget champion maintains those high hopes, but knows that first things first, you must finish if you want any shot at reaching those goals.
“A positive Memphis experience would be just getting through the race and completing it,” Nemire stated matter-of-factly. “Obviously, you set goals. You want to run top-5, top-3. I say just getting through the race without an issue with our new engine is the biggest goal.”
Upgrading equipment and garnering more seat time will most certainly prove to push Nemire forward in 2019. The grandson of longtime USAC competitor Jerry Nemire has finished in the top-ten of the Silver Crown standings in three of his five years on the tour. This year, he’s hungry for more.
“The past two years, we moved into a newer dirt car that’s more up-to-date and better as far as what is used for technology versus the older 1998 car we were running. The past couple years were more about taking that experience from the first couple of years and applying it to the new car. We’re definitely making big waves on the dirt side, Nemire continued. “It’s hard when we’re running only 10-15 times a year versus everyone else running 50-60. I think we’re hurting mainly on experience. My overall goal is to finish top-five in points at the end of the year, which I think we were pretty capable of doing last year. I hate to set goals too high and too lofty, but I don’t really think there’s such a thing as that.”