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A Fargo, N.D., short track driver who enjoyed success at the dirt Sprint Car racing Mecca of Knoxville, Iowa, is now focused on success in Virginia NASCAR Late Model Stock Car competition – by way of Washington state.
That’s the racing road traveled by Natalie Sather, 25, in pursuit of a NASCAR career. This year, she’s competing full time in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. She’s teamed with Sellers Racing Inc., and brothers Peyton and H.C. Sellers of Danville, Va., the driver and crew chief, respectively, who won the 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
Sather is in 14th place in the division points standings at South Boston and hasn’t missed a race despite breaking a wrist in an accident earlier in the season.
Sather’s short track credentials run deep. Last year, as a member of the Drive for Diversity program, she competed in the Late Model division on the .375-mile and .625-mile paved ovals of Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. She placed fourth in Evergreen’s Late Model Division points standings in 2009, and won the NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award presented by Jostens for Washington state.
Prior to 2009, she spent five years competing primarily in ASCS dirt Sprint Cars and making some World of Outlaws starts. She qualified for a preliminary A-Main in a 410 Sprint Car during the 2007 Knoxville Nationals and won the ASCS Midwest points championship. In 2008, she placed in the top 10 in 360 Sprint Car points at Knoxville and was the division’s Rookie of the Year. Her Sprint Car racing hero is fellow Fargo native Donny Schatz, the four-time and defending World of Outlaws champion.
She’s studied to develop her talent at the Skip Barber Racing School, Finish Line Racing School, Lyn St. James Women in Racing Program, and the Jimmy Sills Racing School.
And then there’s teaming with the Sellers brothers at South Boston.
“They’ve been an extreme benefit to me,” Sather said. “I’m racing with some great drivers at South Boston, and the competition has been difficult. I’m just another driver to everyone, and I find that to be what I prefer.”
Successful drivers must be able to adapt quickly to different tracks and different track conditions, but moving back east brought another variable in the feature event distances.
Typical dirt Sprint Car feature races average in range from 25 to 40 laps. At Evergreen Speedway last year, regular Late Model features were 40 to 50 laps. At South Boston and many other southeastern tracks, weekly feature event distances can be a major league 150 laps or more.
“That’s a lot of hard racing over a longer distance, but I adjusted quickly,” Sather said.
Her dirt racing experience has been a benefit to her at South Boston as well.
“I’ll agree that Sprint Car experience helps with pedal and brake control, and having a feel for the car,” she said.
Her father, Brad, a prominent Chevrolet dealer, and mother, Tessa, have been big boosters of their daughter’s racing career since she started racing go karts when she was nine.
Sponsors on her No. 94 Sellers Racing Inc. Chevrolet Impala include K&N Filters, Lady Eagle Safetywear/Design 500, Bell Helmets, Butler Built Seats and Gateway Chevrolet. The car is based on a Hedgecock chassis.