Most successful race-car drivers always strive for more and Andy Bryant is no different.
Bryant, the 18-year-old up-and-comer from Fort Scott, Kansas, is proud of a championship season in the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod division at Lucas Oil Speedway. Bryant won four times en route to his first track title at Lucas, where he finished 148 points in front of runner-up Kris Jackson.
But a couple of features that got away stick out in Bryant’s memory. He was leading in both when mechanical failures left him with DNFs – and damaging hits in the USRA B-Mod National Championship chase.
“The (track) championship was obviously good,” Bryant said. “But we were striving for a bit more. Those two wins at Lucas when we were leading probably cost us the (national) championship.”
Bryant wound up 29 points behind Ryan Gillmore in his bid for another national title to go with the one he captured in 2015. Still, Bryant wound up with an impressive 21 wins and 45 top-five finishes in 62 USRA starts in 2017.
“Whenever you get 21 wins, it’s hard not to call it a successful year in the racing business,” Bryant said. “Most people call 10 wins a pretty successful year. So yeah, it was a good year for us.”
Winning the B-Mod title at Lucas Oil Speedway is no small feat. It’s the class with the largest average car count and some of the most-competitive racing, with the likes of Jackson, Shawn Strong, Mike Striegel and many others capable of winning.
“When you’re racing with people like those guys … they race you clean but they race you hard,” Bryant said. “A week or two before the season championship Kris, Strong and myself were trading spots for the lead about every lap. I don’t think we got into each other very much, except for one incident and that was because we were three-wide.
“It’s incredibly fun to race like that. Last year whenever Kris and I would race, we would be on each other’s doors and we would always get out after the race and tell each other ‘good job’ and then do it again the next week. You can really push each other.”
For Bryant, a senior at Fort Scott High School, it was a successful debut year in a new Moyer Victory Circle Modified. Crew members included Matt Bingham and Brandon Pitts.
Bryant said it was a season of maturity for him behind the wheel as he aimed for consistency.
“I tried to be a smarter driver,” Bryant said. “Instead of going full-out blazing every lap like some people do, I worked on consistency. Maybe I wasn’t the quickest every lap, but being where I’m not making as many mistakes as before.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Bryant said there’s a possibility the team could upgrade engines and test the USRA Modified waters, but it’s more likely he will return for another year in the B-Mod.
“Winter plans are to get all my school work lined up so I can start racing in March, and work on making the car a little better,” Bryant said.