Dakota Hurley going after trophies, fun in 2022

By Phil Whipple,
RaceON.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Rachel Plant

SANDIA, Texas — When you speak with various racers around the state of Texas, you’ll find a mix of those who prefer chasing points at their favorite track, and drivers who travel regularly hoping to bag a few big-money wins and collect some nice hardware. It just depends on what they enjoy doing most.

For 23-year-old Dakota Hurley, the 2022 season will be a little less stressful than last year. In 2021, Hurley won one feature, earned eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes en route to earning the Factory Stock points title at I-37 Speedway in Pleasanton. This year, he’s chasing wins and trophies instead.

“Running for points last year was pretty stressful at times,” Hurley said. “It forces you to accept what the car will give you on any given night; to always look at the big picture. Steady, consistent finishes are what wins titles, and we did that last year. This year, I’m just out to have fun and win some races.

“I have to be honest here; at the beginning of last year, we were pretty much junk. We had rebuilt the car completely just to go after a points title. In the first five or six outings, it was good, it just wasn’t quite good enough. So we bought all new shocks and springs for it, and it really got us turned around.”

When Johnny Torres and his staff open the gates at I-37 this Saturday for the famed Frostbuster, Hurley won’t be in his driver’s suit. Instead, he’s giving someone else a chance to race his No. 40 machine.

“We are building a new car for my brother, but it isn’t ready yet,” Hurley explained. “He’s really not my biological brother, like Dustin, who also races, but we call Paul Reyes my brother. He’ll be driving my car for the first two or three races this year. Once his car is ready, I’ll get back in mine and go racing.”

Hurley is another second generation driver with racing in his blood, having grown up around the sport.

“I’ve been around racing my entire life,” he explained. “My Dad raced for years; he won multiple point championships on the asphalt in his day. I actually started racing myself when I was 16 at Central Texas Speedway (CTS) in Kyle. So, like my Dad, I got my start on the pavement.

“I competed in the Grand Stock division, while my Dad ran in Super Stocks. The first time I sat in my first car, I drove from 20th to first and won the feature. When CTS closed down, my car was close enough to a Pure Stock car on dirt that we could convert it over. We actually won a lot of races in it. At first, dirt was not our thing. It took us a few years to get this dirt deal figured out.”

At I-37, the Factory Stock division is loaded with talent. It’s no cakewalk to land on the podium there.

“The pits are full of good teams with strong cars and skilled drivers,” Hurley said. “They don’t give up any positions on the track easily. They’re all serious racers, so we have to get after it hard. I’ll tell you, it gives my Dad and I a great deal of pride to run so well against well-financed teams with our own car.”

As for that number 40 machine he wheels on the weekends, it’s a cool piece he and Dad built at home.

“This a home-built race car with substantially less money in it than most of our rivals have in their cars,” Hurley explained. “I got the chassis from Lawrence Mikulencak, the legend of South Texas racing. My father is an excellent welder and fabricator, and we built this thing from the ground up.

“This thing has been pretty solid for us. In this division, we’re competing against big-dollar equipment with an old horse, but still having a blast. Sometimes you can make up for having older equipment with a good setup and skills.”

Along with his raw natural talent behind the wheel, Hurley also has a few key people who support his efforts on the ovals.

“I would like to thank my parents, my fiance and my brother for everything they do to help,” Hurley said with sincerity. “I couldn’t do this without them. I also need to thank my valued sponsors, including 1st Call Plumbing, Schneider Solar Screens, Ace Transmission, All In Designs, and Paul Reyes and family. I appreciate the support they all provide so very much.”

As the 2022 season gets rolling in earnest next month, Hurley will split his time behind the wheel with Reyes. He’ll also be gunning for wins and good times when he does race, the main goal for 2022.

“I’m just looking forward to the no pressure part of it; the chance to race without worrying about how the points scenario is looking. Don’t get me wrong, the goal here is to try and win multiple features in a season. But we also plan to have lots of fun, to enjoy this great sport with family and friends.”