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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Peyton Sellers as Nationwide Series Owner/Driver

Bryan Davis Keith, Frontstretch: You’ve certainly gotten an education this summer.

Peyton Sellers: It has [been rough.] I’ve been very fortunate that in everything I ever drove, I’ve never really struggled in it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been learning curves along the way, but from late model racing to the West Series, our first race out we finished fifth, second race we finished second. There were some learning curves throughout that year, but we had some good runs. This year, nothing we’ve been able to do has gotten us close to the top 10. We had an awesome run at Milwaukee that I thought was going to be the turning point for us. We struggled early on, but went to Milwaukee, ran well enough to be fifth or sixth but wound up 15th because I got caught speeding on pit road, put us a lap down. I was really expecting that to be the turning point, but it wasn’t. It was a bright spot more than anything.

Looking forward, now I’ve got a lot more experience, we unloaded here and we weren’t that fast, but I felt like I was where I needed to be, as a driver. I was able to come down pit road after the first three laps of practice and say “let’s work on this, this and this.” I wasn’t guessing, I wasn’t saying “I’m not sure what the car is doing, but this is what I think it’s doing.” I think my feedback has gotten better throughout the year. We just can’t seem to get a handle on these cars for whatever reason. Starting a new team, the personnel and all that’s involved with it, it’s been a big learning curve.

Keith: Talk about your equipment. You’ve torn up a couple cars this summer, don’t have a ton of resources. Can you put a finger on what your team is missing right now?

Sellers: Help from a Cup team. That’s what it boils down to. We’re trying to do it all independently. We run ECR engines, but don’t get any setup help from them. Basically, second half of the year it’s been my brother and myself. I’ve been driving, he’s been setting them up. You know, you talk to people, you get some help from people, but as far as a solid relationship with somebody, we just don’t have that.

Keith: Is that a matter of there’s not enough money, or a matter of reaching out to people and the help’s not there?

Sellers: Little bit of both to be honest with you. The way the economy is right now, every team is fighting and fending for themselves. We’ve seen a little bit of that. I don’t know what the reason for it is, but we just haven’t been able to get some help from a Cup team. We bought cars from RCR and motors from RCR, but they’ve been struggling some this year too. It’s a tough market right now.

Keith: You talked about your feedback. Being a short-tracker, obviously these longer ovals are something different. What specifically about your feedback has gotten better even after only a few starts on the longer ovals?

Sellers: The hardest thing I’ve had to get used to, the biggest thing that’s made a difference is learning the tracks. On the short tracks, you rely on tires to give you grip. Here, you rely on air to give you grip. Mentally, I’ve got to say “forget what the tires are doing, think about what the air’s doing to the car.” That’s been a big learning curve, and also just getting out there and doing it. It’s different than short-tracking.

Honestly, I think a guy looking to race [at this level] would be better off to skip the late model stuff and just jump in an ARCA car. But you’ve still got to pay your dues somewhere, and I felt like I paid my dues early on, and now we’re getting to try and chase a dream a little bit in the Nationwide Series, and I wake up every morning and thank the good Lord that I’m able to get out here and race for a living. We’re not where we want to be right now, but we’re out here. There’s 50 drivers here trying to make this race today and 5,000 out there wanting to be here. I realize that every morning that I wake up. I’ve got to get better with my feedback, but right now I feel like I’m breaking through some of those barriers I hit earlier in the year.

Keith: You mentioned ARCA. A lot of people talk about ARCA for development since that series gets to run the intermediate ovals. After this season is over, is that something where we may see you in an ARCA car more down the road?

Sellers: Absolutely. We ran the ARCA race at Kansas City, that was a home race for our sponsor, SFP. It made sense to go out there and run that race. It’s just a matter of getting seat time on these mile-and-a-half tracks. You can’t go test now, NASCAR’s nipped that in the bud. And I’m not 100% against that rule, but you’ve got to do something for the rookies. It’s hard for someone like me to come here and qualify against Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, who get to do this twice a week every week. We’re racing for the same positions.

Keith: It sounds like you’ve made progress in 2009. You still don’t have the development deal to move you forward, but do you still view 2009 as a step forward?

Sellers: We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve learned a lot of stuff, we’ve paid some dues. We’ve torn up some equipment paying those dues, and that’s part of it. People forget how many cars Busch tore up at Hendrick, and now he’s shining. You’ve just got to do it. You’ve gotta find the edge, and it takes wrecking a few cars to do it. We’re getting through some of that right now, and though I’m just like everyone else, cringing when I wreck one, it’s what you’ve got to do. We’re lining our stuff up to be a stronger threat next year. So over the winter we’re going to work to build some relationships, get some help for our team here, and it’ll be a good thing.

Keith: What’s the situation for 2010?

Sellers: We’ve talked to the sponsor, they seem very positive about everything they’re doing. But we’re waiting.

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