By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Stacy Kolar/Southern Sass
WACO, Texas — He's won races in just about everything he's ever driven, and now, he's inching closer to a win in the ultra-competitive Factory Stock division at Heart O' Texas Speedway.
For 34-year-old Michael Guenat, that drive to win has never been stronger. In 14 starts this season, he's earned a pair of top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He has the consistency, he's gaining speed, and the next step of pulling that No. 25 machine into Victory Lane is right around the corner. Guenat is holding down fourth in the current points tally.
“I just try to be smooth, be as patient as possible and avoid the wrecks,” he said. “I can get up on the wheel when I have to, but I am cautious to a point so I can preserve my car. I never look right in front of me; I'm always looking way down the track. I want to be up front, but I won't take any foolish risks.
“As for getting into Victory Lane, there are a couple of things I think can get me there soon. I have a new car just about finished, and hopefully it's a lot lighter. This car I have now is roughly eight years old; my brother-in-law raced it in the Cruiser class. I started driving it when the Bomber class started.”
Some of his friends have questioned him on debuting the new car, when he has the old one dialed in.
“I just think this old car is too heavy to be competitive against all of those new, lighter chassis out there,” Guenat said. “I'm about 300 pounds heavier than those guys, which robs a ton of power. So I'm excited to get this new car going, even though we'll have a learning curve before we get it hooked up.”
Guenat has been at this game for 16 years, and has earned his fair share of trophies in various classes.
“I've driven in a number of classes over the years, from Hobby Stock, to Cruisers and Sport Mods, as well,” he explained. “I got second in points in the Cruiser division at Bell Mead Speedway, so that was pretty neat. I think a lot of us have some great memories from that track.
“My biggest success came in the Hobby Stock division at Texas Thunder Speedway in Killeen, where I won the points championship in 2011. The class was new, and I had a great battle right down to wire with Andy Roller. We were back and forth for weeks, and I clinched the title in the season finale.”
Guenat is another Factory Stock regular who is floored at the car count and competition this year.
“It's always been pretty competitive at Heart O' Texas Speedway, but this year is the toughest I've ever seen to compete for a top-five or a win,” he said with enthusiasm. “There are a lot of good cars driven by talented drivers out there now. I think we're doing well considering the outdated car we're using.”
Guenat is one of the fortunate ones; in the respect of having been around historic HOT for so long.
“I was basically raised at that track,” he said with pride in his voice. “My stepfather was the Technical Inspector there when they had the Winged Modifieds. I was really young, and we would also travel to places like CowTown Speedway and to Shreveport, Louisiana. I've been around HOT all of my life.”
About the only thing keeping this talented and highly respected racer out of Victory Lane in 2021 is a slightly outdated car. There is a brand new one in the works, yet it's not quite ready to hit the oval.
“We took delivery of a new car from Damon Hammond at Wild Child Race Cars,” Guenat explained. “We got it last September, then put a new body on it plus a few things just to suit our own needs. My stepfather is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to fit-and-finish; so it's taking some extra time.
“He would much rather take the time to do something the right way as opposed to cutting corners to save a little time. A lot of guys could have has this car ready to race a month after they got it, but we wanted to put our own touches on it. I have a car to drive, but this one's coming along very nicely.”
Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel, Guenat also has several key people working hard behind the scenes to keep his racing program on-track.
“First and foremost, I need to thank The Lord for everything he’s done and provided for me,” Guenat said. “I also want to thank my wife, who loves and supports me, and has sacrificed a lot to let me do what I love to do. My children really inspire me to do good each day, and love to watch Dad race.
“I’d also like to thank my mom and stepdad, without whom none of this would be possible, along with a thanks to the rest of my family and friends for their continued love and support through the years.”
Guenat is also blessed with some fine sponsors on board his machine that make him more competitive.
“I want to thank Southwest Maintenaince; Green’s Automatic Transmission; Renschler’s Automotive; Simcik Motorsports;Terry’s Body Shop and Wild Child Chassis. I couldn't do this without them all.”
With the points-racing season (and summer itself, sadly) rapidly flying by, Guenat has a clear goal he wants to achieve before Selby Holder and staff close the gates up in Elm Mott.
“Obviously, the big goal right now is to get this car finished and over to the track,” he concluded. “I need to do some Hot Laps, get some seat time in it and put it through its paces. Once we can get it to where I'm comfortable in it, I'll get on the gas and try to get us that victory. I'm very excited about it.”