Admittedly, the first half of the 2021 season has not gone as well as Donald McIntosh and the Blount Motorsports team would have hoped. While there have been five podium finishes and a total of ten top-5 results, there has not been a single trip to victory lane by a team that had seven wins in 2019 and four more victories in 2020. But now, the No. 7m crew looks to turn things around and get back to their winning ways over the next two weeks as they take on the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals.
In a recent interview with InsideDirtRacing.com, the driver graded his season to date poorly.
“100%,” he replied when asked if the start of 2021 had been a struggle. “I would give ourselves a D-minus and the only reason I wouldn’t give us an F is because we’re still trying.”
The Dawsonville, Georgia native believes that multiple factors have played into his team’s difficulties this year.
“Honestly, I’ve been busy and I haven’t had a whole lot of time to go up and work on the car, to prepare,” McIntosh admitted. “And we haven’t tested any, which actually tonight(Thursday) we’re testing at Bulls Gap(Volunteer Speedway) and I’m really excited about that. I think testing will help a bunch. When you’re behind, the only way to get better is to start trying things to get better.”
The team led by crew chief David Bryant replaced the Rocket Chassis car that had brought them so much success with a new chassis from the Shinnston, West Virginia company but they just haven’t quite found the handle on the new machine yet.
“Another thing, we got a new Rocket and it just doesn’t respond to any adjustments and that’s the thing,” McIntosh explained. “It’s not that it doesn’t have speed, it’s just that you can change everything in the world and not seem to affect the car any. And that’s been really tough and we’ve fought that. Dave gets really excited to run this Southern Nationals and I enjoy running it too. It’s a grind but it’s fun so hopefully we can turn it around in these next two weeks.”
The Larry Garner-owned Blount Motorsports organization has a track record of success in the Schaeffer’s Oil family of racing series. McIntosh has won two Spring Nationals titles, two championships in the Fall Nationals(which will not be contested in 2021), and two titles in the now defunct Southern Nationals Bonus Series. BMS also won Southern Nationals championships with drivers Casey Roberts and Tommy Kerr.
McIntosh has has so far accumulated six championships across all of those different series, but never a Southern Nationals title. The 28-year-old racer has amassed 17 career Schaeffer’s Oil-sanctioned victories(across all series) and finished in the top-5 of the standings with the Southern Nationals in every year since 2014 and.
This is definitely a team and driver that knows what it takes to be successful in these Ray Cook-promoted events.
“The hardest thing about this tour is when you get behind on body work,” McIntosh declared. “I’ve been grooving tires to get ahead on that, so if we do have trouble at the track that’s one less thing you have to worry about when you get to the next track. I’d say that is for sure the hardest thing about the Southern Nationals is being prepared every night for the things you don’t expect.”
There’s no doubt that running twelve races over a span of only fifteen days will be physically exhausting. But McIntosh says the tightness of the schedule actually helps to avoid one type of exhaustion.
“Honestly, I don’t think you have time to worry about the mental part,” he pointed out. “You take each day for what they are and at the end of the night everybody knows that you’re best off to go ahead and service the car there that night because it’s cooler at night so you get everything done and you go out the next day just like it’s a new day. You rewind and no matter whether you’ve come off a win or a bad run, you just kind of have to rewind on that deal. If you get all caught up in a bad race, it’ll just snowball and continue to be a bunch of bad races. Mentally you just do what you’ve got to do to keep yourself at your best.”
McIntosh, along with Blount Motorsports crew members Bryant and Taylor Watson have a good plan in place to deal with many of the things that are bound to happen. They hope to keep little issues from turning into big problems.
“It’s a tough deal,” the driver stated. “You can think you’re having a really good run and then something can happen and it can snowball. You’ve just got to keep your head up and go each night to win it. It’s a team deal for sure, not just one person on any of these teams is going to win it. It’s got to be a team effort because it is a grind.”
McIntosh looks forward to the entire Southern Nationals schedule but some events certainly have his attention going into the two-week affair.
“I’m looking forward to the tracks we haven’t run like West Georgia and Beckley. I’m excited about those. I’ve been snookered at Wythe a couple of times when I feel like we were going to get a win but broke leading a couple of times. I’d love to have a good run there, for a big track that place races really well and it’s fun to race on.”
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2021 Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Schedule:
7-16-21- Beckley Motorsports Park- Mount Hope, WV- $10,053-to-win
7-17-21- Wythe Raceway- Rural Retreat, VA- $10,053-to-win
7-19-21- Volunteer Speedway- Bulls Gap, TN- $4,053-to-win
7-20-21- I-75 Raceway- Sweetwater, TN- $4,053-to-win
7-22-21- West Georgia Speedway- Whitesburg, GA- $4,053-to-win
7-23-21- Needmore Speedway- Norman Park, GA- $5,053-to-win
7-24-21- Screven Motor Speedway- Sylvania, GA- $10,053-to-win
7-25-21- Rome Speedway- Rome, GA- $4,053-to-win
7-27-21- Tri-County Race Track- Brasstown, NC- $4,053-to-win
7-29-21- Boyd’s Speedway- Ringgold, GA- $4,053-to-win
7-30-21- 411 Motor Speedway- Seymour, TN- $10,053-to-win
7-31-21- Tazewell Speedway- Tazewell, TN- $10,053-to-win