Zack Miracle has quickly turned into one of Florence Motor Speedway’s brightest stars.
At 15 years old, Zack held his own with track veterans like Matt Cox, Ryan Glenski and others to bring home six victories and a second-place finish in Florence’s Late Model Stock point standings.
The amount of success Zack has experienced in 2021 came as a major surprise for him but he will now look to carry that efficiency into his CARS Tour debut at Florence on Saturday evening.
“We came into this season not expecting a whole lot since this was my rookie year in Late Model Stocks,” Zack said. “Just the idea of even running a CARS Tour race is a little hard to comprehend if I’m being honest.”
When Zack made the full-time transition from Limiteds to Late Model Stocks, he anticipated a steep learning curve and wanted to log laps at Florence while leaning off his father Jerry Miracle for guidance.
With Jerry being a long-time regular at tracks like Florence and the now-defunct Concord Speedway and Myrtle Beach Speedway, Zack knew that he would be in a great position to contend for Top 5s starting with his first race of the year on Feb. 27.
Despite finishing 16th that day, it would not take long for Zack to find his comfort zone at Florence. He followed up that disappointing performance with two consecutive Top 5 finishes before visiting victory for the first time on Apr. 17 after holding off Cox and Glenski for the win.
Zack became a championship contender during the summer by tallying a win on five consecutive weekends. Despite this, a handful of poor showings, including two finishes out the Top 5 during the season-ending twin Late Model Stock features on Sept. 11, prevented Zack from chasing down Cox for the title.
Only 52 points separated Zack from becoming a champion as a rookie, which he considered to be a major overachievement for his Late Model Stock program knowing that Florence was going to test him physically and mentally as a driver.
Zack said that Florence’s layout alone is enough to intimidate any young driver but he is proud of the progress made during a short period of time and now feels more confident in his ability to battle tougher competition at the facility this weekend.
“I’ve learned a lot about [Florence],” Zack said. “It’s a very unique track and there really isn’t another place like it, especially since there are no walls in the turns on the backstretch. Hopefully the experience I’ve had this year will help me out in the CARS Tour race.”
Zack believes Saturday’s Aarons’ 125 will be one of the hardest races he has competed in during his young career.
Along with facing a familiar opponent in Glenski, Zack will also have to battle drivers like Bobby McCarty, Kaden Honeycutt, Justin Johnson and Jared Fryar, all of whom are in contention for the CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour championship.
Zack has leaned on Jerry heavily in the days leading up to the Aarons’ 125, who ran his only CARS Tour race to date back in 2016 at Concord. Jerry ended up finishing 20th in that event after suffering a mechanical failure on Lap 16.
Zack hopes to fare better than Jerry in his first CARS Tour start but he is also determined to showcase the speed that yielded him six victories at Florence this season.
Although he is approaching the Aaron’s 125 in a similar fashion to weekly races at Florence, Zack also intends to enjoy his opportunity to race with the CARS Tour and reflect on all of his team’s accomplishments over the past several months.
“When we started building the new car in January, I never thought we’d be talking about running a CARS Tour race in October,” Zack said. “If we could win this race on Saturday, it would be really special for me and our entire team. We want to win but these are the best cars in the country, so I would be happy with a Top 5 as well.”
Zack has not yet mapped out a full schedule on his 2022 plans but he does want to return to Florence with the goal of adding his name to the list of track champions.
A strong performance on Saturday would give Zack the momentum he needs to cement himself as that early title favorite.
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