In the Driver's Seat

dwilliams-ina Daniel Williams is used to winning, so he has no experience at being in a position where just qualifying for a race is considered a success. On the other hand, trying to jump from dirt track Ford Focus Midgets to the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by LoanMart is similar to going from high school to the pros in a stick and ball sport.

"It does get frustrating, it really does," the 19-year-old Glendale, California, resident said. "We're fast one minute and slow the next. We don't know what we're doing, but we're trying to make it into the show.

"We're struggling. The whole family is involved and we're all learning together. We jump all around and find whatever help we can get."

We is Williams, his father Rick and crew chief J.D. Laird, and there's no question that they need help in learning the how and whys of pavement racing in one of the most competitive touring series in the nation.

Dean Kuhn has given them some assistance in setting up the chassis of their Lefthander Chevrolet and helped them get together with engine builder Bob Panella, and that seems only right since Kuhn is one of the reasons Williams decided to join the series.

"I'm the first racer in our family," Williams said. "I started back when I was about 6 or 7 years old in go-karts. When I was about 8 years old I went up to Quarter Midgets and did that for 5 or 6 years. I was real successful in Quarter Midgets. I moved all the way up through the series and had 8 championships, 21 track records and almost 175 wins. About 2010 we jumped to the Ford Focus Midgets, running the USAC tour. I did two years of that and here we are with the Modifieds.

"I grew up watching Roger Carufel and Dean Kuhn at Irwindale (California), watching them race in the Grand American Modified series. That's actually how I got the number 25 (actually 25d), through Roger. I just grew up watching them and decided I wanted to do it and here we are."

Williams ran four races in 2012 and five last season, with a best finish of ninth at Irwindale. In the two events this year, at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and Tucson, Arizona, he's been unable to transfer from the B main to the main event.

"It's all seat time and we don't quite have it, but we're definitely getting better," said Williams, who is working toward a structural engineering certificate in welding and wants to join a NASCAR team.

He said "it's hard trying to figure it all out, but it's a lot of fun" despite the frustration and he wants to be at all 10 races this season. But he still has the financial limitations that have kept him from running a full season.

"It's just us, me and my dad and my friends," said Wlliams, whose black car is devoid of sponsorship. "It's tough, working five days a week to pay for this. "We're trying."

DANIEL WILLIAMS AT A GLANCE

Age: 19 (11 September 1994)

Lives in: Glendale, California

Marital status: Single

Occupation: Student

Car number: 25D

Type of chassis: Lefthander

Engine: Panella Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Rick Williams, J.D. Laird

Years in racing: 11

Divisions raced: 125cc Karts, Quarter Midgets, Ford Focus Midgets, Lucas Oil Modifieds

Titles and awards: 175 wins, 21 track records, 8 championships in Quarter Midgets

Series point standings: 27 (2012); 28 (2013)