Since winning the inaugural Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout finale last January, Tyler Clem has climbed backed behind the wheel of his #14 Sprint Car about only a dozen times.
Two of those races were during Volusia Speedway Park’s Battle in Barberville 360 Sprint Car event in December. And they’re two races he hopes give him enough of an advantage over the full-time national competitors he’ll be up against during the second annual Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout, Jan. 25-27.
“It’s tough. I don’t race much with those guys either,” Clem said. “They race every weekend. I’m lucky to race once or twice a month in this thing. They’re the best in the world for a reason, obviously. They’ve won Outlaw races. They’ve won big races like that. Obviously, the confidence that we got from winning the race [last January] and having the speed that we do here, obviously, it helps us. I think we’ll be fine when that time comes and do what we do this year.”
While his overall track time in a Sprint Car might not match drivers like Austin McCarl, Justin Peck or Ryan Timms, Clem – a Florida native from St. Petersburg – considers Volusia a home track. He has five wins at the half-mile, three coming last year – his Southern Sprint Car Shootout win, a Top Gun Sprint Car Series win and a 604 Late Model victory.
Home-field advantage played a part in Clem’s Sprint Car Shootout win last year, but he acknowledged a bit of luck did too. After drawing the pole for the 30-lap race, he launched ahead of the field at the start and never looked back.
Because of that, he benefited from clean air all race, never having to struggled with the aerodynamics of having to pass another car. However, that experience came during December’s Battle in Barberville. Clem finished third the first night and then second the next, having to race his way from sixth both nights.
“You’re at a half-mile here, so it is very aero dependent,” he said. “Once you get racing with guys, you’re not in clean air and the car handles different.
“You’re going to get the best guys in the world coming for [the Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout], kind of like there was this year. Definitely getting laps [during the Battle in Barberville] can build your notebook for that weekend.”
To Clem, his Southern Sprint Car Shootout victory ranks atop all other accomplishments. “The biggest win of his career,” he called it in Victory Lane. And now, with nearly 50 cars set to tackle the 2024 edition of the event, which features three days of racing and the biggest purse in United Sprint Car Series history – boasting a $10,000-to-win finale – he’s eager to put his notebook to work for another big night.
“Everybody is excited for that race,” he said. “It’s probably the biggest 360 race you’ll have around this area. I feel like the quality of cars that come here for this race in January are better than [what’s at East Bay]. You have like Ryan Timms and [Ricky Stenhouse Jr.] and all these guys are going to show up for that race, guys that run 410s. The quality of the field is going to be really good and we’ll just try to do what we did [in 2023].”
For tickets to the second annual Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout, CLICK HERE.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision.