One hundred and five days. Fifteen slow moving weeks. That‘s longer than the NASCAR offseason, yet when Myatt Snider straps into the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend at Portland International Raceway, that‘s the amount of time that has passed since his last race in the Xfinity Series season opener.
After finishing 18th in the championship standings last season for Jordan Anderson Racing, the sponsorship landscape changed for Snider heading into the 2023 season. The company increased to two-full time teams, bringing in Jeb Burton and Parker Retzlaff.
On the outside looking in was Snider, though he wanted what was best for Anderson. It was a tough decision to tell the team owner to begin looking elsewhere for other drivers with more funding.
“We both wanted to continue our relationship and wanted to make it work, but unfortunately it wasn‘t going to work out that way, at least without having to cut corners and not do it right,” Snider told Jayski.com last week. “I wanted to make sure Jordan was in the best position to succeed and obviously it‘s working for him this year because he‘s got his first win.”
Over the offseason, Snider did approach one of his sponsors, Tree Top, to see what races they would be interested in. Located in the Yakima Valley in Washington, they wanted as many west coast races as possible, as their first race last season was ironically at Portland.
More good news for Snider was that Joe Gibbs Racing had races available in its all-star No. 19 Toyota, which has already gone to Victory Lane this season with Ryan Truex at Dover. It was important for Snider to showcase his talent in select races for an established organization.
“Whenever we bring up the topic of running races with JGR, our partners get really excited because they know we‘re going to be competing for a win and up front,” Snider said. “At a place like JGR, finishing sixth is an average day, which is pretty amazing to say because competing at the Xfinity Series level is hard.
“I think it excites a lot of our partners that we‘re going to be competing for wins and they know they are going to get TV time.”
JGR was also happy to get a driver the caliber of Snider into its all-star car.
“We‘re looking forward to [having] Myatt on our No. 19 team for six races,” Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of NXS and development for JGR, said in a preseason release. “Building out the driver lineup for this car is an opportunity for JGR to help drivers continue to develop in their racing career and we‘re looking forward to seeing how Myatt continues to grow.”
In Snider‘s first outing in the No. 19 car at Daytona, he avoided chaos and finished the race in fifth. Next up is Portland, where he finished runner-up to AJ Allmendinger in the rain last year, highlighted by a stage win and pacing the field for 19 laps.
It‘s safe to say Snider has been counting down the days to Portland
“I can‘t even explain to you how much I‘m looking forward to it,” he said. “It‘s difficult to go three months without being in any sort of capacity, racing in the Xfinity Series. I‘m at the point of my career where I‘ve learned a lot of lessons and I‘ve got a good perspective on how to approach this race and get the most out of it. I still feel good that I can hop in the car, get going and have speed right off the bat and make the most out of it.”
Snider wouldn‘t mind if it rained this weekend at Portland. Ever since competing in one of his first legend‘s car races in the snow, he‘s felt comfortable on a wet racing surface. In a monsoon at the Charlotte Roval in 2020, he raced up to third in a RSS Racing entry before spinning out. Last year at Portland was his best showing of the 2022 season.
Competing full time in the NASCAR Euro Series in 2019 helped Snider‘s road course prowess. He believes it elevated him from “a good road course racer to a great road course racer.”
Now competing for JGR on a road course, Snider believes he can win Portland.
“I want to finish that one spot better than I did last year,” Snider stated. “I feel confident that we can get it done, especially if it rains. Ty [Gibbs] was lights out in the first stage in the rain last year. I feel like we‘ve made a lot of good gains on the simulator before we go there. I want to win the race. That would be the perfect way for my second start with JGR go.”
Should Snider win one of his next five starts with JGR this season (Portland, Charlotte Roval, Las Vegas, Martinsville and Phoenix), it would be special for multiple reasons. After graduating high school, Snider spent four years working at the team‘s Huntersville, N.C. headquarters in multiple departments on the Cup Series side. Seeing all the intricacies that go into building a racecar gave the then-teenager a whole new perspective.
But a win would also mean that his first triumph at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2021 wasn‘t a fluke.
“It‘s kind of cliché, but there‘s a saying that I can‘t remember where I heard it, but it says it‘s not a mistake if it happens twice,” Snider noted. “For me, having that second career win would be big for me personally because I‘ve proven that I can do it on an intermediate and then I would have proven that I can do it on a road course.
“I know that I can do it on a road course, but everybody looks in that win column and that‘s the metric in NASCAR racing. Winning for a team that I worked for before would be pretty darn cool. It would do a lot for me.”
Following Portland, Snider will have another 18 weeks off before returning to the No. 19 ride at the Charlotte Roval. To pass time, he‘s going to continue to chase sponsors and workout a handful of times per week.