TAMPA, Fla. – Carlie Yent is set to make her return to Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series action on Saturday night at Showtime Speedway in Pinellas Park, Fla.
Yent will be driving for famed car owner Mac Steele.
The 22-year-old driver made her last SSSS start on April 28, 2018. She then prepared to try to qualify for the Little 500 a month later.
The trip ended in disappointment as the young driver crashed twice during the week and failed to qualify for the race. She decided to concentrate on school and hasn’t raced since.
“Mac (Steele) had contacted me earlier this year while I was still in school and he asked if I wanted a ride for the weekend,” explained Yent. “Unfortunately, with school and stuff I was a little too busy that weekend. He ended up reaching out to me again yesterday (Monday) actually. I was definitely interested.
“It has been two years. I just graduated from the University of Florida and I have time in my schedule now,” she added. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get back into a car.”
Prior to Yent’s temporary departure from the series, she was beginning to show promise as a driver. She scored her career-best finish when she recorded a third-place finish at Citrus County Speedway on Sept. 16, 2017.
“The car that we crashed at Anderson, I had just started to get comfortable in,” Yent noted. “Everything had just started to come together.”
Her time away from the track allowed her to focus on school and other personal goals.
“Back in January I decided to go a different career path. I graduated this past weekend from the University of Florida with a Marketing Degree. But I’ve always had a love for aviation. I got my pilots license. My Dad is a commercial pilot. Its something we had joked around with. But I got serious and got it,” she said. “In the next year I’d like to start getting more certificates and interviewing for the Air Force for an undergraduate pilot training position. That’s my career right now.
“I’m excited to drive for Mac. He’s always been great to me and my father. When we started racing in 2014, he started building our engines. It’s honor to drive for him,” Yent continued. “He’s had some great drivers drive for him. (For him) to even consider me is an honor. This worked out great that I got an opportunity to jump in Mac’s car this weekend. We get along great so it should be a great weekend.”
In life, timing is sometimes everything, and Yent felt that was the case with this deal.
“I started to miss racing more and more. This is a perfect opportunity to get back into a car and start thinking about getting back into it,” she explained. “I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for it. It would be fun to jump back in a car every now and then and race with the Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series.”
Due to the length of time away, Yent is uncertain what to expect, but insists she’s excited and feeling no stress on her shoulders.
“There is no pressure this weekend. But it has been two years since I’ve been in a car. I’m just gonna ride around and see what I can do,” she noted. “Realistically I would just love to finish on the lead lap. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I know everyone has gotten faster. I’m just gonna go out and have fun.”