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Gary Wayne St. Amant (born October 19, 1962) is a former stock car racing driver from Columbus, Ohio. While he competed in several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, his career is most notable for his success in the American Speed Association, winning the National Tour in 1998 and 2000. When the ASA folded after the 2004 season, he found success in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, winning the Northern Division Championship in 2007.[1] With St. Amant having won the Snowball Derby and Winchester 400 twice, along with the All American 400 and Snowflake 100 once, he is the only driver in history besides Chase Elliott to have won all four short-track crown jewel events. He also showed his mentorship to a young Jimmie Johnson in his early ASA days, before his transition to NASCAR.[2] Johnson has since mentioned his appreciation for the coaching while making history himself in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Gary St. Amant
BornGary Wayne St. Amant
(1962-10-19) October 19, 1962 (age 57)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Achievements1998, 2000 American Speed Association Champion
2007 Hooters Pro Cup Series Northern Division Champion
1992, 2000 Snowball Derby Winner
1999 Snowflake 100 Winner
1990 All American 400 Winner
1999, 2002 Winchester 400 Winner
AwardsSeven-Time American Speed Association Outstanding Sportsmanship Recipient
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career
5 races run over 5 years
2008 position116th
Best finish64th
First race1995 Action Packed Racing Cards 150 (IRP)
Last race2008 Ohio 250 (Mansfield)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0

ASA careerEdit

St. Amant's career in the ASA National Tour began in April 1986 at Auburn, Michigan's Tri-City Motor Speedway with an 11th-place finish.[3] He scored his first ASA win at his home track, Columbus Motor Speedway, in the 1990 Buckeye 300, holding off Rich Bickle and Ted Musgrave. Later that fall, he won the prestigious All-American 400 at Nashville's Music City Motorplex. He managed another hometown win at Columbus in 1996, leading all 200 laps from the pole.[4]

In 1998, though he only managed two wins (Orange County Speedway and Berlin Raceway) to Scott Hansen's seven, St. Amant was more consistent, and leading nearly twice as many laps as any other driver helped him claim the 1998 title. His 2000 championship was won quite similarly; domination and consistent Top 5 finishes placed the Winchester 400 winner nearly 500 points ahead of second place Kevin Cywinski. After playing second fiddle to NASCAR-bound rookie Johnny Sauter in 2001, St. Amant and Joey Clanton waged war for the 2002 championship. Clanton won the first five races of the season (winning nine overall) and ultimately led over 35% of the laps, but had several poor finishes during the year. St. Amant won just four times (all but one of the final five races) but had only two non-Top 10 finishes. St. Amant won the season-ending Winchester 400, but Clanton recovered from a late-race crash to finish third, defeating St. Amant for the title by 1 point, the closest points margin in series history.

After the 2002 season, St. Amant and team owner Bud Gebben parted ways after claiming two championships. St. Amant would later join Frankie Grill's Grand American team, driving his historical #7 in Jani-King colors. After several mechanical failures, he would leave Grill's team early in the season and join Appalachian Motorsports.[5] Even while resurfacing with a new team, good luck continued to elude him.

While his 2003 season was already hitting rock bottom, St. Amant's season only got worse during the ninth round at Mansfield Motorsports Park. During the late stages of the race, he clipped the left rear of another car, losing control and spinning down the frontstretch. His racecar stopped with the driver's side facing oncoming traffic. His teammate, Stephen Leicht, swerved to avoid, but instead drilled into St. Amant's door. St. Amant suffered four broken bones in his lower back, bruised kidneys and bruises throughout his arms and shoulders, and was sidelined for the following race at Indianapolis Raceway Park.[6]

For the remainder of the 2003 and 2004 seasons, St. Amant did not win again in the ASA, with his best finish of fourth coming at Illiana Motor Speedway late in 2003. His last start came in September 2004: a 17th-place result at Minnesota's Elko Speedway.

Upon the demise of the series at season's end, he sat 8th on the all-time wins list with 21 triumphs. He also won pole position 26 times, led 7001 laps, and is the all-time money leader with over $2 million in career earnings.[7]

NASCAREdit

St. Amant competed quite sparingly in NASCAR-sanctioned events. In 1994 he won the Pro Gold 400 NASCAR All-Pro Series race at Myrtle Beach Speedway, joining several other Midwest short track stars moonlighting in the Southern-based series. In 1995 he debuted in the new NASCAR SuperTruck Series (now Camping World Truck Series), finishing 11th at Indianapolis Raceway Park. On the final lap, he was racing former ASA champion Johnny Benson for second place, but spun on the backstraight and hit a light pole (which went dark upon impact).[8] St. Amant restarted the truck and took the checkered flag to complete the 150th lap (in the Busch Series race the following night Chris Diamond would hit the same light pole). In four more Truck Series starts, he never finished better than 25th.[1]

Hooters Pro Cup SeriesEdit

After the ASA was discontinued, St. Amant joined the growing Hooters Pro Cup Series with Bullet Racing.[9] Though not a dominant driver, consistency through experience (44% of his starts resulted in a top 5 finish) placed him no worse than ninth in his five full seasons in the series. He won only twice, at Lake Erie Speedway in 2004 and Salem Speedway in 2007, but better consistency than the dominant Benny Gordon took him to the 2007 Hooters Pro Cup Series Northern Division championship.[1]

Post-racing careerEdit

Since leaving the now CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series after the 2008 season, St. Amant has worked out of his raceshop located outside of Columbus. He has aided former Hendrick Motorsports driver Landon Cassill in various short-track events, as well as being a crew chief and driver coach for Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Cody Coughlin.[10] Since 2014, he has helped 2-time CRA Super Series champion Travis Braden, including leading him to his second-consecutive championship in 2014.[11] St. Amant planned to continue to aid Braden in the premier CRA division as well as some ARCA Racing Series events throughout 2015.

Motorsports career resultsEdit

NASCAREdit

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Craftsman Truck SeriesEdit

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 NCTC Pts
1995 Doran Racing 77 Chevy PHO TUS SGS MMR POR EVG I70 LVL BRI MLW CNS HPT IRP
11
FLM RCH
31
MAR NWS SON MMR PHO 64th 200
1996 HOM PHO POR EVG TUS CNS
25
HPT BRI NZH MLW LVL I70 IRP FLM GLN NSV RCH NHA MAR NWS SON MMR PHO LVS 111th 88
1997 71 WDW TUS HOM PHO POR EVG I70 NHA TEX BRI NZH MLW LVL CNS HPT IRP
DNQ
FLM NSV GLN RCH MAR SON MMR CAL PHO LVS NA -
1998 77 WDW HOM PHO POR EVG I70 GLN TEX BRI MLW NZH CAL PPR IRP
25
NHA FLM NSV HPT LVL RCH MEM GTY MAR SON MMR PHO LVS 94th 88
2008 Tatman Racing 37 Chevy DAY CAL ATL MAR KAN CLT MFD
28
DOV TEX MCH MLW MEM KEN IRP NSH BRI GTW NHA LVS TAL MAR ATL TEX PHO HOM 116th 01

* Season still in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Racing-reference.info: Gary St. Amant
  2. ^ http://www.teamjegs.com/content/past-champ-st-amant-has-protege-cody-coughlin-ready-pro-debut
  3. ^ Gary St. Amant - 51's Third Turn
  4. ^ Ultimate Racing History: Gary St. Amant
  5. ^ http://www.motorsport.com/stockcar/news/garg-st-amant-changes-teams/
  6. ^ http://www.motorsport.com/stockcar/news/injury-sidelines-st-amant-for-indy-irp/
  7. ^ Robbins, Rex (2013). Let's Go Racing!. Anderson, Indiana: American Scene Press. pp. 343–346. ISBN 978-0-9719639-0-0.
  8. ^ 1995 Action Packed Racing Cards 150:Part 6 of 6
  9. ^ http://www.speed51archives.com/stamant_procup.html
  10. ^ http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2010/08/04/490686.html
  11. ^ http://www.statler.wvu.edu/news/news-details.php?item=2012