For The Tribune

BROWNSTOWN

With five years of experience behind the wheel of his family-owned dirt crate late model, Skyller Lewis is now finding himself in position to win races.

The 2015 Brownstown Central graduate credits two things to his recent success streak: Seat time and his family’s dedication to the sport.

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“My time behind the wheel has really been a key component to our positive results here lately,” Lewis said.

Following the Indiana Pro Late Model Series schedule in his first two years of competing, Lewis has gone up against arguably the strongest field of weekly racers in the Midwest.

The Indiana Pro Late Model Series travels to several tracks around the Midwest, exposing its drivers to a variety of surfaces.

“Competing against those guys on a weekly basis has really helped us as a team,” Lewis said.

As of late, the team has taken a different approach and does not follow a regular series schedule.

“We’ve traveled out of state a little bit and ran well, which really boosts our confidence level when we come race back home,” Lewis said.

Lewis frequented Daugherty Speedway in Boswell earlier this season as well as a few tracks in Illinois.

“With my college schedule, we’ve got to pick and choose what races we can hit,” said Lewis, who is a mechanical engineering student at IUPUI.

Lewis takes some of his college experience back to his shop with him to help get his car better.

“What I’ve learned in the classroom has helped me better understand the dynamics of these cars and how they transfer weight,” Lewis said.

His family’s dedication to the sport doesn’t go unnoticed, as Lewis strongly praises their commitment to the sport as a key factor to running well.

“There’s no way I could do this without the support of my family, both sets of grandparents and everyone else,” Lewis said. “My dad and I are really working well as a team now. We’ve developed a good notebook, and we’ve got this race car to suit my driving style very well.”

Lewis pilots a 2013 MasterSbilt Chassis, which is headquartered in Crothersville.

Brownstown Speedway is the home track for Lewis, and a recent streak of success has been refreshing.

Lewis defended the efforts of racing veteran Marty O’Neal last weekend at Brownstown and picked up his heat race win prior to feature action. A mildly disappointing feature performance followed the victory, but Lewis is not discouraged.

“Just being able to beat a guy like Marty was a huge accomplishment for me. He is the best in the business,” Lewis said. “We faded late in the feature, but we will get better. We are so close to getting wins.”

Lewis’ only win thus far in the division came last season at Twin Cities Raceway Park in North Vernon.

With the Jackson County Fair rapidly approaching, the stakes are high for Lewis and his team as they look for their first win at Brownstown.

Rallying in last year’s fair race main event, Lewis finished 11th after starting 19th.

“Winning any race at Brownstown would mean the world to me, but the fair race is by far on the top of my list to win,” Lewis said. “My grandpa is on the fair board, and it would be really special to pull off a win in front of our home crowd.”

Lewis credits his hometown’s support playing a huge role in his racing program.

The next race on schedule for the team is this weekend at Brownstown, as they prepare for their Thursday night race at the Jackson County Fair.