With all the recent talk about the large rookie class in NASCAR in 2014, many people are wondering who the next great champion might be. Who among the many professional racecar drivers in the country will finally be able to unseat Jimmie Johnson as the reigning "King" of NASCAR?
With their new rides in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, perhaps someone such as Kyle Larson, Cole Whitt, or even Alex Bowman have a chance to shock the world and contend for the Sprint Cup. However, there are a lot of good drivers sitting in the wings waiting for their big break in professional stock car racing.
This column has already featured interviews and other information about Josh "White Lightning" White, a young man from West Virginia who was hoping to make his big break in the ARCA Series at Daytona, until sponsorship trouble left him without a ride for the season opening race.
Recently, the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner was able to catch up with Garrett Marchant, a 17 year old high school student who splits his time between school and the race shop. He and his team are busily preparing for the 2014 Limited Late Model season, and are planning on moving up in the ranks. Soon, you might just see his name on the leaderboard at the Daytona International Speedway!
1. Why did you decide to get involved in auto racing?
"The racing bug certainly runs through my veins. My grandfather (Gary) and Dad (Burney) were both local short track racers (both actually still race every once in a while.) I spent my early years at the racetrack, fell away from the sport until I was 10, and ever since then I've been at full force! "
2. What is your favorite racing memory?
"Man, that's a hard question to answer. I'd probably say racing this past season at Caraway Speedway. I qualified ninth after messing up in qualifying. We ended up finishing fifth, but my car was awesome and I had an absolute blast! Pretty much side by side with someone the whole race. I also think it was the only race all year I didn't hit SOMETHING. (LOL)"
3. With the current economy, how difficult is it for drivers like you to market themselves to sponsors?
"It's difficult for sure, but I'm a firm believer in the guys that want it bad enough will make it there somehow. I'm proud to say I've never missed a race that I have wanted to run, but that all goes back to my fans. partners, family, and more importantly than the rest God watching out for me and making ways where there are no ways. It has come down to the night before a race not having sponsorship and someone end up putting the money down for me. I've truly been blessed. We currently have very little funding for this season which has me in a pretty huge panic, but I believe without a doubt God will make a way for me."
4. Aside from yourself, who are the drivers to watch out for in 2014?
"To be honest, I don't know. I've killed myself in the past worrying about everyone else this year I'm worried about myself and nobody else. I could care less if Jimmie Johnson was out there with me. That being said, everyone's good, but I'm only worried about the 77 machine (myself.)"
5. What is your favorite race track?
"The one I'm at that weekend haha. I honestly don't know if I can even pick a favorite, I love what I do so much! I'd have to say Orange County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, or East Carolina Motor Speedway. All tracks are very unique for sure!"
6. What are your goals for the 2014 season?
"My goal this season is to go out, have fun, and win races. Focusing so hard on winning championships I believe is one thing that hurt me this past season. All I was thinking about was where I was in points and that caused a lot of problems for myself and my team. This year, I am going out there, running balls to the walls, and hopefully bring back trophies. If we win enough races we should win the championship anyway."
7. How do you feel about the general state of motorsports in the 21st century?
"There are definitely lots of ups and downs. I hate that we are racing each others pocketbooks rather than the monkeys behind the wheel. That being said, I also love the fan interaction and such we have now. The safety is certainly a ton better, I just wish we could find a way to cut costs and bring drivers back into it a touch more. That's not saying the driver doesn't matter, because trust me it DOES and we have lost race after race from me slouching in years past, but this year is my year."
The West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner would like to thank Garrett and his PR team for finally making this interview happen. If you are interested in helping to sponsor Garrett Marchant Racing for 2014, there are still full season sponsorships available starting at only $500, and fan car sponsorship packages for a mere $20. Visit his website for more information.
Over the next few days, this column will strive to provide full coverage of the events leading up to the Great American Race on Sunday, including a possible interview with the head of the CJ Mears Gang himself, Casey Mears, as well as other members of the NASCAR garage.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season opens with the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Feb. 23. The race will be televised live on FOX at 1 p.m. ET.
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