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Alex Payne Off to Fast Start in Super DIRTcar Series Rookie Battle

The Hopewell, NY driver finished sixth in Power in the Pines at New Egypt Speedway
Alex Payne
Quentin Young photo

After a sixth-place finish at New Egypt Speedway, Alex Payne is already setting records with the Super DIRTcar Series.

The Hopewell, NY driver’s run during the Power in the Pines event is the best start for a Rookie of the Year contender in this decade. 

It also allowed him to get a jump on the other rookie contenders. He enters the Memorial Day doubleheader at Weedsport Speedway on May 26 and Thunder Mountain Speedway on May 27 with a 38-point lead in the rookie standings over Justin Stone.

Payne said a significant factor in his success at New Egypt – a place he’d never seen before – was his emphasis on preparation.

“We’ve worked pretty hard to be prepared for it,” Payne said. “It was cool to get to a new place. The place is really different. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a racetrack like that, which is cool and challenging. It was a good weekend overall.”

Another positive he can take from the championship season opener was his chance to race side-by-side with 10-time Series champion Matt Sheppard and defending New Egypt Speedway champion Ryan Godown.

Matt Sheppard, Ryan Godown, Alex Payne
Alex Payne battles with Ryan Godown and Matt Sheppard at New Egypt Speedway/Tom Morris photo

“Knowing that Matt and Ryan both have a lot of laps at that place, it was cool,” Payne said. “It was one of those places that it seemed like you could really make your moves on the restarts. And then we kind of filed out a little bit after that. I don’t think a whole lot was happening under green. I know Ryan passed quite a few cars in the beginning to get upfront. 

“On the restart, I actually got around Ryan and Matt, but the caution came out just before we got to the line. And it got called back. It was cool to know we definitely had the speed to run with them.”

Payne’s finish at New Egypt kept his momentum rolling from Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, where he finished fifth during the event’s finale. However, he isn’t satisfied. He said he knows where to improve and how that improvement can push him toward a Super DIRTcar Series victory.

“There’s a whole lot to learn,” Payne said. “We fired off really well. I think we have a pretty good baseline to unload with, and, hopefully, have good speed. I know myself; I need to work on my [Qualifying] and Heat racing a little bit. I’ve never really been able to time trial well. We had a decent time trial, but I’d like to put myself on the front row of these Heat Races because I really think it’s going to make a difference.”

That improvement comes back to one of his strengths entering the season—preparation. Payne said he knows the grind that’s coming, as he’ll race three or four nights a week on some occasions in 2024.

“I feel like no matter what you do, it’s hard to feel completely prepared,” Payne said. “We’re going to have a really busy year. Most of the week, it’s just me in the shop. In the summer, I’ll have another guy with me a little bit. But it’s good knowing we’re able to get it done. But I’m definitely excited and up in the air about how the middle portion of the year is going to look with how busy it is. Three or four nights a week is a lot. It’s a lot of racing.”

Payne and the Super DIRTcar Series return to action for the Heroes Remembered 100 at Weedsport Speedway on Sunday, May 26. For tickets, CLICK HERE. Then, the Super DIRTcar Series heads to Thunder Mountain Speedway for Thunder on the Mountain on Monday, May 27 – the Super DIRTcar Series’ debut at the Center Lisle, NY track.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision, either online or with the DIRTVision app.