Memphis, TN (October 25) - Memphis, TN, is known as the birthplace of Blues music. Songs about good men living in trying times have echoed from the nightclubs along Beale St. since just past the turn of the century. Lyndon Amick and his team...
Memphis, TN (October 25) - Memphis, TN, is known as the birthplace of Blues music. Songs about good men living in trying times have echoed from the nightclubs along Beale St. since just past the turn of the century.
Lyndon Amick and his team have definitely learned the meaning of "trying times " recently, so they should feel right at home as the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division (NBS) heads to Memphis for the October 29 Sam's Town 250 race.
After scoring three top-10 finishes in the first 11 events of the 2000 NBS season, Team Amick Motorsports appeared to be headed for a breakout year. Since a ninth place finish in the spring Richmond NBS race, however, the "breakout" has turned into "heartbreak" for Amick and the crew of the No. 35 POWERTEL / Mitsubishi Wireless Chevy Monte Carlo. In 18 events since May 5, the team has only four finishes of 20th or better, culminating in a "DNQ" (Did Not Qualify) in last weekend's Sam's Club 200 at Rockingham.
Amick has suffered almost every setback that can befall a driver this season, from getting caught up in an accident not of his making in the fall Dover race, to transmission problems while running in the top-10 at Watkins Glen. Amick now finds himself 27th in the Driver's Points Standings.
While critics might think that his team's struggles would have Lyndon Amick singing the Blues, they'd be surprised to learn he's actually humming a different tune.
"Am I disappointed in the way we've performed this year? Of course I am," said Amick. "Am I going to get down on myself and this team because of the way we've performed? Absolutely not. My guys work as hard as anyone in this garage, but we've had a lot of bad breaks. We're all doing everything we know how to do to be successful, though, and our luck will change eventually. "
Amick says his faith in himself and his team has not faltered during the adversity that has shadowed Team Amick since their early season successes. He points to the events that transpired one year ago in Memphis as an example of what can happen when you maintain a positive outlook.
"We had a tough start to the season in 1999," Amick remembers, "so much so that I decided to step aside for seven races and let someone else drive. When I got back in the car last fall, we came to Memphis for the first time and ran the fastest lap in the first practice session, then scored a top-10 finish (10th) in the race."
Amick's team is now focused on making the most of the final three races of the 2000 season, and hopes to carry the memory of strong finishes in those events into the off-season.
While Team Amick's NBS efforts have fizzled a bit, Amick says his friend and mentor, Winston Cup veteran Ken Schrader, has helped to strengthen the young driver's confidence during the rough spells. Competing in equipment fielded by Ken Schrader Racing, Amick qualified third in the Daytona NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season-opener, and pulled off a second place finish in the Indianapolis NCTS event. Add to that a win in the May 20 ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where Amick also drove a Schrader-owned car.
"Ken (Schrader) has really helped me to not get down on myself at times this season," Amick believes. "I've been successful in his equipment, and just knowing that someone of his talent believes I have what it takes to compete at this level is a tremendous feeling."
Amick's positive outlook has also been shaped by his belief that he should cherish every moment, both positive and negative, of his racing career. Now in his fourth season in the NBS, Amick says this realization hit home for him just recently, following the loss of NASCAR drivers Adam Petty, Kenny Irwin and Tony Roper.
"I'm a young man," said the 23 year-old Amick, "but the guys we've lost this year were all young men, too. Seeing how quickly they were all taken from us has made me appreciate how precious life is. I'm really trying to learn to be grateful for everything that happens, both good and bad."
"Every driver in this sport has been blessed to be able to live their dream of driving a race car," he continued. "Even on my worst day at the track, I still get to do what I love for a living, and not a lot of people are able to say that. I'm learning to appreciate that fact more everyday."
So, while race fans will see Amick on Beale St. in Memphis this Friday night, he won't be singing the Blues. Instead, he'll be signing autographs along with a number of other NBS competitors at the "Busch Bash On Beale".
"Signing, not singing," Amick says with a smile. "I can sign my name pretty well, but I'll spare everyone from my singing voice. I'll stick to what I'm good at."