Dylan Martin hasn’t been behind the wheel of a full bodied race vehicle but for a few years. You would have never thought that the 16 year old in the seat of the #7 Chad Pierce Motorsports-Blackwater Chevy this past Saturday night was a rookie. Competing against seasoned veterans he left the track that night with some new found respect from the spectators along with the drivers.
When Dylan Martin drove onto pit road at 6pm for qualifying, he knew he would have to pick up some speed to qualify in the top 10. That was the goal set by his crew chief and owner of the #7 Pro Late Model, Chad Pierce. Dylan was running some good consistent times in practice. With his line improving every lap, he would have to push himself though to make the top 10. As Dylan got closer and closer to the end of pit row to take his turn to qualify, his breathing got faster and his hands gripped the steering wheel even harder. The crew had done everything they could to give this rookie a good fast racecar. Now it was Dylan’s chance to show them and everyone else, he deserved to be there. As he closed his eyes, took one more deep breath, he let the clutch out and gave it everything he could for two solid laps. The black #7 rolled through the corners snug to the track. It got a bit loose coming out of 4 but Dylan picked up over a half a second to qualify 9th with a 18.275 second lap. He was only 3 tenths off pole. Not bad for a rookie.
Chad and his crew made some adjustments and by 9pm it was race time. Now remember Dylan just two days prior sat in this racecar for the first time ever. He was debuting his new ride at one of the fastest ½ mile tracks in the Southeast. As the pace car pulled off the track, Chad (Dylan’s spotter) radioed to him, “You got this kid, let’s show them what you can do”.
Lap 1 and the caution had already come out for #59, who spun in turn 1. Dylan had a good start and was lined back up for the restart in 9th. For the next 9 laps the field went single file which gave Dylan a chance to get comfortable and get his line down. There was only a car length between him and the #18 when the second caution flag dropped. #66 got spun and collected the #11, in return the #39 was sent to the rear for causing it.
Lap 9, Dylan restarted 6th and when the green flag waved it didn’t take Dylan but a lap to pass the #18 on the inside. He then spent the next few laps trying to run down the #81. His lap times were picking up every lap. He had pulled within less than two car lengths behind the #81 when the next caution came out. The #28 had wrecked in turn 1 with another car.
Lap 17, Dylan’s #7 was right in front of veteran driver David Rogers #11. The #11 was able to drive under Dylan on the restart along with the #18. He was running in 7th place now. The field ran green for six laps, then another caution. The #4 spun in turn 4 and with quick eye and hand reflexes Dylan was able to avoid hitting him. Dylan is not a veteran in this class but he is when it comes to missing wrecks.
Dylan finds himself restarting in 6th. He gets a great run and is able to get a position as the next caution waves for #81 and #4. They wreck hard in turn 3 and 4. Dylan is able to take advantage of this as he restarts in 4th place. Dylan gets a great run on the outside to take 3rd place from the veteran in #11. But #11 doesn’t give in easy as he gets to the inside of Dylan on the next turn. They are running side by side, veteran and rookie door to door for a lap. The #11 pulls in front of Dylan, who is now running in 4th. Dylan’s car has gotten loose and the #39 is able to pass Dylan on the inside.
In 5th spot, Dylan runs some hard laps. This long green flag run gives Dylan some time to find his line again and run smooth. On lap 41, #22 catches up to Dylan. It takes him four laps to get up along side of the #7. As they come out of turn 4 these two cars are side by side. When they go down into turn 1 contact was made that shot Dylan into the outside wall in turn 1. It was a hard hit to the driver door side. Within seconds though Dylan said he was okay to the crew chief. But on the other hand the car wasn’t, the impact to the wall was bad enough that it took two wreckers to cradle Dylan’s mean machine off.
As the field gets the green on lap 46, there was still going to be some action on the track. Two more cautions, #39 black flagged and a couple more cars wrecked. The checkered flag was given to #22. Dylan ended up with a DNF but was able to salvage an 8th place finish. Dylan was upset and frustrated with the wreck but he definitely gained some fans and some respect.
Dylan thanks all his fans, friends and family for coming out and cheering for him in this new adventure. He would not have been able to have taken even the first lap if it wasn’t for his parents never ending support and his sponsors.
Dylan will be back behind the wheel of the #7 Chad Pierce Motorsports-Blackwater Chevy on April 26th at Auburndale Speedway in the FUPS Super Late Model Race.
( Photo’s – Jim Jones Photography & Kim Scheffler / Press Release Credit – Kim Scheffler)