After a year of building and preparing his program, Alex Payne is set to join the Super DIRTcar Series full time in 2024.
The Hopewell, NY driver will battle for Rookie of the Year honors after a two-win season that included his first DIRTcar Big Block Modified win at Land of Legends Raceway.
But 2023 wasn’t just about success. It was about preparing for the future. The third-generation driver built his Big Block program to compete against the best in 2024.
“We probably could’ve made it happen last year, but I feel like we took our time to really prepare everything to the point where we’re going to be good and give it our best shot,” Payne said.
Even though 2024 will be his rookie year, Payne is no stranger to Super DIRTcar Series competition. The 18-year-old has made 18 Series starts and scored a career-best finish of fifth at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in 2021.
But despite that experience, he said he knows he’ll face a learning curve.
“It’s going to be tough trying to unload fast,” Payne said. “Time trials are super important. So, there’s going to be some struggles with that, I feel like, but maybe we use some DIRTVision tapes from the past and maybe compare it to somewhere that’s close and get a feel for it. And just try to unload with our best shot.
“I think we’ll be ok. It’s all going to be learning constantly until we get to the point where we feel like we have a good baseline everywhere. It’ll be tough, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Along with his Series starts, Payne got the chance to race against several Super DIRTcar Series stars during his time racing weekly at Land of Legends. And the night he found Victory Lane at the iconic Canandaigua, NY oval, he beat one of his Series competitors, Peter Britten, to the checkered flag.
“There’s a lot of good cars in that field,” Payne said. “We had some really good speed in our first year, but that win was pretty big with some of the names that were behind me. I think we would’ve had three of them there last year if we didn’t have some issues.
“Just knowing what it takes to win there, a lot of people don’t get that opportunity, and for us to do it in our second year was really cool.”
Before his Rookie of the Year campaign officially kicks off at New Egypt Speedway on March 30, Payne will make his second trip to Volusia Speedway Park during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 14-17.
With three starts at Volusia, he has a better idea of what to expect when he returns to the Florida venue, which serves as the first test of his preparations.
“It’s definitely different down there,” Payne said. “One thing that’s going to help us this year is we have a pretty good engine program together. We know what things will do compared to last year when we were just getting some of our better pieces straightened around to try and learn. But we have a pretty good feel on what everything is this year, and I think we’ll be ok.
“I’m hoping to be consistent and run decent. That’s definitely the goal.”
Payne and the Super DIRTcar Series kick off the 2024 season during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 14-17. For tickets, visit dirtcarnationals.com.
If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.