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European Experience Gives Snider More Confidence for Historic IMS Road Race

For many rookies, competing at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time can be a daunting task because one of the most challenging racetracks on the circuit with 111 years of history around every corner demands respect.

This year, IMS is even more of a daunting racetrack as the NASCAR Xfinity Series makes history with the first-ever NASCAR road course race at the Racing Capital of the World – the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course this Saturday, July 4, live on NBC.

NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Myatt Snider is rolling into the historic NASCAR-INDYCAR tripleheader weekend with as much confidence as a rookie could have given the last year of his career.

Snider returned to the United States this season after a one-year stint in Europe competing in the NASCAR Euro Series and competing at some of the most iconic racetracks in the world, such as Brands Hatch, Hockenheimring and Valencia. Snider scored two pole positions, both in Valencia, and finished a career-best second at Franciacorta in Italy and Venray in the Netherlands, respectively.

“I definitely feel like because we went to some of the most prestigious road courses in Europe, and especially because I was with some really great road racers, I learned a lot of what I needed to run (road course) races,” Snider said. “So, I definitely don’t feel like I’ll be at a disadvantage going into those races at all.”

Snider, a 25-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, said he is preparing for the Indy road course race to be a thriller as 38 stock cars race clockwise down the main straightway and jump on the brakes hard as they enter the sharp Turn 1 into the infield road course.

Snider said he is ready to have a strong run in his No. 93 Ryan Sieg Racing Chevrolet because no one has stock car racing experience on the IMS road course and because he gained excellent road racing experience in Europe.

“There’s a big difference you can make as a driver at a road course,” Snider said. “There’s a different style you have to take to road course racing. So, going to a brand-new track like Indy, I think there’s definitely a chance where I can make a difference.

“It’ll definitely make some excitement, for sure, but that’s the name of the game,” he said. “We’re here to provide entertainment, and we’re here to make a good show. I’m just excited to get going.”

This year, Snider is splitting his season between two race teams. In the beginning of the season, he drove the No. 21 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. The established NASCAR team couldn’t offer him a full season, so he took it upon himself to find an additional seat to fill out the season.

As the NASCAR Xfinity Series season approaches the halfway point, he will run all but two more races with Ryan Sieg Racing. He said the back and forth between two teams is challenging enough, but when he switches between the No. 21 and the No. 93, he also must adjust his expectations.

Snider said that each week when he drives the RCR machine, he is driving a car that is expected to run up front and compete for wins. With the Ryan Sieg Racing car, a top-10 finish feels like a win for the mid-pack team.

“I think we’re making the most out of it,” he said. “It is a unique challenge, because I have to change my expectations for whatever weekend we’re running, but it’s allowing me to learn, stay in the seat and stay fresh. It’s just giving me a lot of good opportunities I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t in the seat. It’s allowing me to keep my name in the picture, and I think it’s the best with what we could do this year.”

So far in 2020, Snider has scored one pole position, at the season-opening Daytona International Speedway. He scored three top-10 finishes with the No. 21 team, at Charlotte, Bristol and last week at Pocono. Between those races, he also scored a top-10 finish for Ryan Sieg Racing with a seventh place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has also led 32 laps this season.

Amid bouncing from team to team, Snider’s rookie season has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted NASCAR racing for two and a half months until the series returned in May at Darlington.

Snider said that the break in the schedule allowed him to catch up on his hectic off-track life. Coming into the 2020 season, Snider enrolled as a full-time mathematics student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and he bought a home. Quickly, he realized that juggling in-person classes and racing on the weekends was too much.

Snider took the break from racing as a chance to re-evaluate his priorities, and he decided to cut back on school because he has landed a full season’s worth of racing.

“I was insanely busy during that entire time,” he said. “Doing (everything) made it very difficult in the very beginning of the year, because I was getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. every day and not getting to sleep until about 11 p.m.

“So, I was pushing myself to the edge, and it was showing up in my racing. I was kind of suffering. The break and everything gave me time to get myself reacclimated and reprioritize what I needed to do.”

Now, with a fresh mind and fresh focus, Snider has his sights set on Indianapolis, which will mark a first in his career. As NBC picks up coverage of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series for the second half of the season, Snider will at some point be the subject of his father’s reporting.

Snider said his dad, NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider, is torn because of the challenges of remaining objective while reporting on his son but still wanting him to be successful.

“It’s a day that he’s been low-key dreading for the last however many years,” Snider said. “I’ve always thought that it would make for a great broadcast, especially if there was something emotional. It will definitely make for some interesting coverage. I don’t have any doubt that he’ll be able to do it. He’s always been a great broadcaster.”

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