With Racing in His Blood, Austin Green Continues Family Tradition Competing in the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series
The Green family is known for its deep roots in racing. All three brothers, Mark, David and Jeff, went from growing up in Owensboro, Ky., to racing in NASCAR. Now, multiple members of the family race in the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Everyone has come to expect great runs from the Greens, but no one expected such a dominating performance from David’s 11-year-old son, Austin, in the 2012 season.
Austin, of Concord, N.C., won eight of the first nine races in the Bandolero Bandits division, making him the winningest driver this year. Last summer, Austin never finished outside of the top four, but wins always alluded him.
“Last year, I was racing with Carson Ferguson and he took most of the wins. I figured that we’d get some wins without him this year, but I had no idea that we’d take this many,” Austin explained.
Austin’s father, David, is well aware of how it feels to be a series’ dominant driver, winning the 1994 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Austin is well on his way to following in his father’s footsteps as he is the Bandolero Bandits points leader, and with one race left in the season, has a championship of his own within his reach.
“If I just keep on going the way I am then I have a good shot at being the champion,” said Austin.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I’m very pleased with what’s happened and never expected it,” David said of his son’s performance. “He’s surprised me, in more than one race this year, that with a little bit of adversity that he can drive from the back. He’s definitely made me very proud.”
Austin had always been excited about the sport, but it’s been kicked into high gear since he began racing Bandoleros in the Summer Shootout Series when he was 8 years old.
“He was always enthusiastic about racing and anxious to do it, but now that it’s become a little more natural to him, he wouldn’t miss a race for anything. At the same time though, he gets just as excited about soccer practice or going to the beach. It’s a very good mix because I wouldn’t want him to be all about racing 24/7,” said David.
It’s no secret that racing is a cutthroat sport, with most drivers striving to make it to the top level of competition.
“I want racing to take me all the way to NASCAR,” Austin said without hesitation.
His love of racing also comes from his early memories of seeing his dad thrive in the NASCAR world.
“I would go to the race track with my dad and we’d walk around,” explained Austin.
“All the fans would ask him if they could have his autograph while I would just stand there and it was really cool.”
David, who still works in NASCAR every weekend as a spotter for drivers Bobby Labonte, Johanna Long and John Wes Townley and serves as Long's driver coach, knows that his son has big dreams, but he also understands that those dreams take a lot of work.
“He’s 11 years old. I can promise you that I hadn’t even run my first go-kart race at that age. Nowadays, if you aren’t doing what these kids are doing then you’re kind of behind. He’s far ahead of the schedule and I just hope he continues doing what his abilities allow him to do.”
David knows that race team owners look for drivers who not only drive to win but also exhibit good behavior, and he believes Austin does both.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of the way that he handles himself, and I was obviously hoping that the genes would work out where he would not only like racing but be good at it as well,” David added.
The 19th annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series concludes this Tuesday night, Aug. 21. Champions Night will feature a spectacular fireworks show and an exhibition race with Bowman Gray Stadium Stocks. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch will serve as Grand Marshal and B.R.A.K.E.S. founder Doug Herbert will serve as Honorary Starter. The two will participate in an autograph session at 6 p.m. for the first 150 kids. Kids who wish to get an autograph need to pick up a wristband from the ticket office starting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are $7 for adults and are available in advance at the speedway ticket office or at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Kids 13 and under get in free.
For tickets to the Summer Shootout Series, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
For live updates during the Summer Shootout Series, follow hashtag #SummerShootout on Twitter. To join in on the conversation simply include #SummerShootout in your tweet.