Sunday afternoon at the Thanksgiving Classic could mark the beginning of a Ferrari Late Model Stock regional tour for Doug Barnes Jr.
Keen observers of the short track scene noticed the Prancing Horse on the nose of the Barnes Paving No. 88 at the South Carolina 400 at Florence over the weekend and it could make it to next season if Barnes continues to run up front the way he did on Saturday.
Barnes led the most laps in the unorthodox tire saving contest and might have had a puncher’s chance at outdueling Ty Majeski and Carson Kvapil if not for a restart getting called back after legitimately taking the lead.
It’s not something he has lost sleep over since finishing fifth.
"You like to think in your mind that you could have fended them off," Barnes said. "But realistically, I know they did a better job of saving tires than I did and that it was probably the right result.
"But if that restart would have stood and you give me a couple of car lengths while they burn up their tires racing for second, maybe that gives us a shot. I'm just more disappointed that it was probably the difference between second and fifth for us."
5 laps to $10K @FlorenceMSpdwy— Bruce Nuttleman (@BruceNuttleman) November 23, 2021
Ride with @TyMajeski, @Carson_Kvapil & @DougBarnesJr88 as they battle for the South Carolina 400 win. LMSC racin' at Florence is a bit different than other places. Ty picked up his 2nd cons. 400 in his @ChadBryantRace / Triple R Racing hot rod. pic.twitter.com/owfHGSCC7j
That is the sort of bright side perspective that has defined Barnes in recent years. The 2017 and 2019 Dominion Raceway champion makes no secret that his ability to race comes at the privilege of his family construction business.
A challenging business year in 2018 put his racing ambitions on hold, and Barnes doesn’t take for granted that his career could end at any moment. His team comes to race every weekend with the intent of winning but it’s a fun first mentality.
That’s why the Prancing Horse is on the car, by the way.
His current whip is the old No. 01 most recently driven by Phillip Morris and that car has a ruby red body instead of their usual black base shells. It’s reminiscent of Ferrari’s Rosso Corsa so Barnes and team went with it because it’s on brand for the vibes they take with them across the mid-Atlantic on free weekends.
"We try not to take ourselves too seriously," Barnes said. "We care about winning and we show up to compete, but at the same time, I don't live and die with every result now.
"When I was younger, I treated every race like it was make or break and it would be the reason I did or didn't get a phone call from Coach Gibbs. I didn't understand the business of racing like I do now.
"I would just encourage any younger racer to remember how much fun this is supposed to be. We're driving race cars. Don't take it for granted."
Barnes launched a YouTube channel this year after garnering publicity for running across the wall of Dominion to lay a drop kick on Tyler Hughes’ car last summer. They called him Air Doug after the incident and that’s the name of the channel.
It’s the embodiment of his approach to short track racing.
"I just thought it would be fun to take people behind the scenes of what it's like to be a Late Model racer," Barnes said. "The highs and lows, drama and excitement. I’ve always taken a camera to the races just because I kind of wanted to chronicle everything we do just so I don’t forget someday, but then I thought, why not share it?"
He hopes to chronicle a win on Sunday at Southern National, a track he has previous experience at.
"I'm really looking forward to racing Josh (Berry) because he took one from us on a late restart at at Dominion last year," Barnes said. "I've always enjoyed racing against him and to have a chance to compete with him before he goes NASCAR racing is a big deal.
"We're running top-five everywhere we go right now. We had a chance to win (the Fall Brawl) at Hickory and to win at Florence. That's all you can ask for."