Getting to know NCWTS rookie Dakoda Armstrong

Dakoda Armstrong, the newest member of ThorSport Racing
and driver of the No. 98 in NCWTS.
ThorSport Racing is already home to Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, but in just two weeks the teammates will welcome a new driver to the family as young Dakoda Armstrong makes his NASCAR debut.

Armstrong has been racing since the age of 6, starting with go-karts and progressing to USAC Midget cars and then the Hooters Pro Cup Series. Most recently, Armstrong has been competing in the ARCA Series for Cunningham Motorsports and this season has five starts and one win at Winchester Speedway.

With over 200 feature wins in his career, Armstrong brings a wealth of knowledge to the track, at the ripe old age of 19.

Career Highlights:
  • 1998 - World Karting Association (WKA) National Champion - Camden, OH.
  • 2000 - Nascart Champion - Speedcreek, IN. 
  • 2004USAC Kenyon Midget Champion - Rookie Year
  • 2009 - Signed by Penske Racing under a developmental driver contract
  • 2010 - Won the ARCA Series Rookie of the Year; won two races (Salem and Talladega) and also started on pole for the Talladega race
  • 2011 - Signed to drive for ThorSport Racing and move into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; won ARCA Series race at Winchester Speedway
Before Dakoda straps in for his first race, I got to speak with him about his background and preparations for his debut. Clearly you can see by his answers, he is excited and ready to race.
Courtesy of ThorSport Racing
Amanda Ebersole (AE): It’s an exciting time for you right now, getting ready for your NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut. How is everything coming along?
Dakoda Armstrong (DA): It’s going good. I have been waiting for this, it seems like forever. It’s coming up quick. I think we are getting ready, we are going to go to Kentucky and watch the race, take it in. I am excited for Iowa, I have been there in the ARCA series so it should be a pretty good race for us.

AE: This is just another step is your racing career. Since you have been racing most of your life, what interested you initially? Was there a family connection?
DA: Ya know it’s pretty surprising, the closest thing we did to racing was that my dad competed in motocross when he was a little bit younger. (laughs) He never wanted us on two wheels, he always wanted us on four. When I was about six we had a go-kart that one of his friends had, went out to race it on a Sunday and won our very first race. I guess I just got hooked from there.

AE: So it enticed you from the beginning?
DA: Yeah, we did that for a couple of years, then quarter midgets. Anything I could really get into because of my age.  Then I started racing in USAC open wheel. midgets, sprint cars then last year I tried getting into the stock cars and it was my first season in the ARCA series.

AE: Was your family supportive of your racing since your dad at one time also had raced?
DA: Yeah! My family loves it! It’s the only thing we have really ever known. We did it every week, every Saturday and Sunday, to the point where I was racing about 100 races a year. I was running sprint cars and it was me, my brother, and my cousin running. It's all we have done.

AE: Besides growing up racing, I was surprised to read that you have grown up on a farm. Not the typical driver story..but I think one of the most interesting I have heard.
DA: Yes, we are based out of Newcastle, Indiana, and my family farms. That is what my dad’s dad did and the family before him. We have an 8,000 acre farm (for you city slickers…that is HUGE) and it's run just by our family and a few hired help. We have done it forever and my dad will continue to do it.
AE: That is the furthest thing away from the race world..
DA: Yeah my dad always says that racing is our full time job and the farm is second. But, it’s a lot of fun!

AE: With your racing experience being so versatile, how does that prepare you for the move into NASCAR?
DA: Well I would like to think that it makes me more diversified. Many drivers have just done one or two things. I have always been pretty good at jumping in things and being able to learn things fairly quick. I will definitely have to do for this since you cannot test any tracks that you run. Luckily I know a couple of the tracks we will be running so that won’t be a problem. It will just be me getting used to the truck and everything that is different about it.

AE: So there are some tracks you are familiar with, not leaving you a complete rookie in that sense?
DA: Yeah, Iowa I have raced at a couple times in ARCA. Then ORP afterwards, and I ran that in open wheel a lot. I know the tracks fairly well, at least the first couple ones.

AE: Since you can’t test, what can you do to prepare?
DA: It’s kind of tough, I mean the basics of a truck are the same as a stock car, it’s a big heavy car. The biggest difference is that they are a lot different in air – with sideforce.

AE: Can your experience, especially in ARCA, transfer over to the Trucks?
DA: Yeah, for sure! Everyone that I have talked to who has done both of them have said they are not too bad of a difference, I should get the hang of it pretty quick. I am excited, hopefully it will be good!

AE: You have a wealth of knowledge with your two teammates, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter. Have you had the opportunity to speak to them and seek advice?
DA: I have spoke to them a couple times and have gone to a lot of their races to sit and watch. That is one thing, going to the races and seeing how everything plays out. The one biggest difference I think, from what I have been doing is the competition is a lot tougher. You have 20 Trucks that are really good instead of 10-12 that may run up front at the ARCA series. It's going to be a lot harder racing.

AE: Do you feel any added pressure competing against names like Hornaday, Bodine, in addition to your teammates Crafton and Sauter? can that be intimidating?
DA: It can be, but I have always raced and always wanted to race against the best. I think it is more motivation to win and beat them. That is what I will try to use that as, motivation.

AE: So you have about 7 races this year and a full rookie season ahead next year. What is the one goal you have for yourself for these races this year?
DA: The biggest thing is to accumulate experience. We definitely want to run well, I think we should be a top-10 truck in our first race. If everything plays out right; we have good pit stops, good runs, we will have a good day. Being with a team like ThorSport, I know they are going to give me good stuff. I am real excited and ready to go!

NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also strives to provide exclusive interviews for the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter.
Getting to know NCWTS rookie Dakoda Armstrong Getting to know NCWTS rookie Dakoda Armstrong Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, July 07, 2011 Rating: 5