OPP, Alabama (May 23, 2020) — Daniel Dye is a name that many may not know… yet. The kid hailing from DeLand, Florida made a name for himself in quarter midgets but is now racing in Late Models with some of sport’s biggest names. With an err of confidence, respect and poise, Daniel Dye is looking for positive results this weekend at South Alabama Speedway, racing in both the 15th Annual Grasshopper Pro Late Rattler 125 and the 44th Annual Hardee’s Rattler 250.
Dye’s weekend started well off the truck, as the driver of the black, white and orange number 43 jumped to the top of the charts in the first Pro Late Model practice session of the day and first time in a racecar since before the COVID-19 pandemic shut racing down in mid-March.
“The Pro car has been really good,” siad Dye. “We unloaded pretty good with that. It’s been three and a half months. It’s been since in the Orange Blossom 100. That was the last time I’ve been in the race car. So it’s pretty good to unload good with both cars. The FURY (Super Late Model) has a little bit of work to do on it but it’s been a good comeback.”
Dye has shown solid speed throughout the weekend in the Pro Late Model and Super Late Model cars his Ben Kennedy Racing team brought to South Alabama Speedway.
After making his debut in Opp last season racing in the Baby Rattler 125, Dye returns to South Alabama with a fresh mindset and is treating his Super Late Model debut there as if he’s never seen the place.
“We were there in the Pro (in March 2019), it was like a year and three months,” said Dye. “I forgot. I just attacked it like it was just a new track I’ve never been to. So it’s (the Super Late Model) definitely a lot different than the Pro, just because there’s more power and it’s kind of a little more… well it was really, really hot today, so it’s a lot more slick. But the Pro race is going to be at night, so there’s going to be definitely more grip and it’s going to be a better handling racecar.”
When asked how he’s going to be able to handle the heat, Dye mentioned that it’s all in conditioning. He referenced back to Speedfest in Cordele, Georgia prior to the pandemic shutdown.
“It’s going to be hot and I’m going to have to stay relaxed and not get myself too worn out,” he said. “I did go to Speedfest and ran 325 laps that day and it was hot outside. So I’m hoping that I can stay on top of myself. I did a good bit of conditioning over this COVID deal. So I think I’ll be good at that part of it. It’s just going to be a race where you have to save your stuff and there’s a lot of fast race cars.”
Over the course of of the shutdown, the young driver has spent considerable time maintaining his mental conditioning as well and like many other drivers, participated in a wide array of online sim races and series, ranging from from pick up races with random iRacing members, to a series that emulated the look and feel of of the Southern Super Series, to events with some of NASCAR’s top stars.
“I’ve been iRacing a lot,” said Dye. “Just trying to keep myself in the mindset of being behind the wheel of a race car There’s some things you can learn, but you know, iRacing is a lot different than the real deal. So I was doing that with my buddies and stuff. Just trying to stay in the zone.”
And when the opportunity came when he could return to a racetrack in some capacity, he jumped at the chance, working with friends at some local tracks.
“The last two weeks I went to some local tracks,” said Dye. “I went to Citrus County with Anthony Sergi and then my buddy races dirt late models, so we went to Henry County Speedway down near Lake Okeechobee the weekend before that. I’m just trying to try to stay in the zone and I thought it was going to be a lot worse of a comeback. I didn’t think I was going to be as ready as I was, but you know, we got right back to doing it like before.”
When it comes to racing in the Rattler among a field full of competition at a tremendously high level, Dye is ready after having already competed against many of these same drivers in races leading up to Sunday’s main event.
“There’s a lot of good cars and I’ve run against a good bit of them, but there’s also some new guys I haven’t ran against yet,” he said. “So it’s going to be only my fifth Super racer. I’m still going to be able to learn a lot of things, but I want to have a good finish too. We’ve had some good finishes, especially at Speedfest. You put that good finish together and there were a ton of good cars there. I think a lot of the cars here are pretty even, so we’ll have to save our stuff and, and see what we can make happen at the end of the race.”
Daniel Dye will start fourth in the 15th Annual Grasshopper Pro Late Rattler 125 on Saturday, and 10th in the 44th Annual Hardee’s Rattler 250 on Sunday at South Alabama Speedway.
Keep an eye on PixelatedSPEED for continuing updates from South Alabama Speedway.
– Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining
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