Race Weekend Central

Dakoda Armstrong Driver Diary: Charlotte, Dover & the ’80s?

Dakoda Armstrong is back with his latest driver diary. After taking an extended break, the driver of the No. 98 EverFi Toyota made his first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway last Friday night in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (May 18).

The 20-year-old started 24th and worked his way forward to a 13th-place finish, ahead of both of his ThorSport teammates Matt Crafton (15th) and Johnny Sauter (25th). Armstrong takes a look back at Charlotte, ahead to Dover and has a little fun to go with it.

Charlotte is a very fast track, but it’s still got the characteristics of a lot of mile-and-a-half tracks. It’s real fast but a little more narrow than some of the other ones. The top groove on restarts is real fast, so I lost a lot of spots at first by being on the bottom for too long. Some people leave that hole open there because they know when you drive it in there, they can come back around you on the backstretch.

At the end we pitted and were 19th with 11 to go. It was tough to get back up there. It was a good effort with a lot of pit strategy. Think our weak point this week was just our qualifying. It’s something we’ve just got to get a little better at. Track position is too key in the series to be starting at the back.

One thing with the trucks running so close to wide open, you get in the corner and you don’t even get all the way out of the gas; you just ease out of it. You’re just learning how to drive around traffic while you’re doing that, and it helps at other fast places like Atlanta and Texas.

On the restarts, I was talking about that top groove, and you can just get a good run on someone by using their side draft. I think that’s all great stuff and hopefully we’ll use that to our advantage and we’ll be better next time.

Looking ahead to Dover, everyone knows Dover is the Monster Mile. It’s definitely a fast place for it being a little smaller, so I think that’s what makes it tricky. It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge. You have to have the aero package and also handling. For the first time there, you’re just looking for a solid finish since it’s a very fast place. I’ve never actually been there in person so I’m very excited.

As far as my time off between Kansas and Charlotte, I actually stayed in Charlotte a lot just working out and getting ready. It seems like we’ve been having tons of off time on the schedule, so I’ve been trying to stay in shape. I’ve been playing a lot of iRacing trying to stay sharp.

It’s fun, but I thought it actually helped me coming back. One thing is when you’re out of it for so long, your restarts are rusty at times. I felt like I had just raced the other day, so I think it helps on that part because I use the clutch with it and everything. It was good practice for me.

I’d like to be able to do other racing during my off time. My dad owns an open-wheel team, but my brother and cousin are both running. We’ve been just looking for sponsors and everything we’ve found has gone toward the truck, so we haven’t been able to get anything extra to do anything else, which makes it kind of tough right now.

We only have one open weekend before the next race, but I’ve got a full schedule just the same. I’m going back to Indianapolis for the Rite Hospital up there. I’m going as a part of the Indianapolis 500 festivities. My brother and cousin are actually racing the night before the Indy 500 in the open-wheel series, so I’m going to go watch them. I’m just planning to go and have a good time and watch some races that weekend.

They’re doing the USAC Open-Wheel Series and the night before the 500, the USAC Midget Series. I ran that a little bit growing up and actually my cousin seems like he’s got more experience than I got. I think he’s the veteran of it now.

They’re just taking it easy in that series and I don’t know if they’re wanting to move up yet or not. I think the next thing they’re going to focus on might be to try some type of stock cars to see if they like it. But right now they’re focusing on running for points and getting better each and every week.

Fan Questions

Is there something you’d like to ask Dakoda Armstrong? Submit your questions to Beth Lunkenheimer or leave them in the comments below and keep an eye out for his next diary on Friday, June 29 to see the answer.

What kind of things do you like to collect?

Armstrong: I don’t know if I really collect a whole lot. Every once in a while, if we have a wreck or something, we’ll collect the part that caused the wreck and maybe keep it. It’s not necessarily something I like to collect because it generally takes us out of the race.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Armstrong: I’m a little different. I love ’80s music. If you checked in my car, it would be SiriusXM ’80s on 8. I wasn’t even born in that era, so I think that’s why I like it. My parents don’t understand why I like it. It’s not even the rock of the 80s – it’s the bubblegum music and the happy, cheery music that I like. It just puts you in a good mood. I just like to listen to that while I’m driving around in the car.

As far as my workout playlist, I’ll go to something else a little different. For just working out, I’m usually using something a little more modern.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

Armstrong: Our races usually happen so quickly now that we’re just sitting there waiting. I try not to get nervous, so I just sit in the hauler and we talk about our game plan. It’s pretty boring really; just a lot of waiting going on.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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