By Cara Cooper
Published: 8 Dec, 2022
4 Minute Read
Austin Paul came into the 2022 race season with one goal in mind – get as many wins as possible.
Paul finished with eight of them, and 15 top fives in 16 races.
What he didn’t realize is those wins were adding up to points in a national title race he didn’t even know he was in the running for until about a month remained in the season. By the time the end of the year rolled around, Paul had 456 national points, enough to capture the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division III national championship.
Paul, who raced this season at Corning, Iowa’s Adams County Speedway, won the national title by 18 points ahead of Irwindale Speedway’s Bobby Ozman.
“Honestly, I don’t think words can really explain how I or the team feels because, honestly, this wasn’t even something we were shooting for at the beginning of the year,” Paul said. “We only had really one goal in mind, and that was to get as many ‘Ws’ as we can. Because with ‘Ws’ other things follow, and that clearly proves that it was legit.”
Even after he was told he won the national championship, it took some time for Paul to believe it was true.
“In late September, I got a text message from the track director congratulating me,” he said. “I said, ‘I want to see proof of this first, one way or another.’ Not just get my hopes up and hear, ‘Oops, we made a mistake,’ or whatever. So I just sat on it for a few days just waiting for somebody to be like, ‘Yea, that was a mistake,’ but obviously it wasn’t.
“Pretty stoked about it. It made all of us happy. I knew I always wanted to have a national title, I just honestly thought, what are the chances of that? Of all the drivers and teams out there. You have some guys who have unlimited funding, but what we have for funding is pretty fortunate. I’ve got to thank my team for that, my partners, my parents, and all them for all the support that makes it possible.”
Paul has been racing 19 years, but this was the first year he raced at just one track, and his first year racing under the NASCAR banner. In years prior, he would either stick with one sanction or no sanction, or just travel around to different tracks every week.
Last year, there was a rain out at the track he and his team were traveling to, and they didn’t want to just turn around and go home, so they decided to travel to Corning and race that night at Adams County.
“We went to Adams County that night, won it, and actually enjoyed the track and facility and who all runs and operates it, so we actually started coming back after that, and we just decided to make this year Adams County’s,” Paul said. “We made them our home track this year, and it paid off.”
Paul won Adams County’s B Modified division title, which was a personal goal of his from the start. He also won the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division III Midwest region title.
Racing at Adams County is no easy feat for Paul and his team, who live more than two hours away. He and his wife, Kaylee, will typically travel about a half hour away to Paul’s parent’s house to work on the car throughout the week. The team – which includes Paul’s parents, Rick and Serena, and his brother, Chad – gets up bright and early on race days, and pick up crew members Dakota and Zach to ride to the track, where they meet their other crew members Rod, Ryan, and Dalton.
It’s a big, close-knit team that Paul said played a huge part in his success this season.
“There’s a few of us and we all know our jobs and positions, and we all get along and we have a fun time,” Paul said.
“Everybody plays a part in it. They’re awesome and I don’t think I’d want anybody else on my team, to be honest. It’s just, we all flow and we get along and we have a great time. And we know how to keep it fun, and that’s what’s important.”
The 2022 race season was a “long journey,” Paul said, in more ways than one. He called it a “roller coaster of emotions,” with struggles and successes.
At the end of the day, though, “Even though we struggled quite a bit this year with things, we all pulled together and worked hard, and it paid off,” he said.
“It was a long journey and I’m glad it paid off.”