There are no more competitive athletes than race drivers, and losing gnaws at them.
But Mt. Juliet's Joseph Meyer says it's important to keep things in perspective.
That's why the 28-year-old racer was "tickled" with an 18th-place finish in last weekend's All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway.
"I was racing against some of the country's best short-track drivers," Meyer said. "My team had some problems during practice and qualifying, so to go out and finish 18th, on the lead lap, was pretty satisfying."
The race was won by Chase Elliott, son of retired NASCAR superstar Bill Elliott. Chase is considered an extremely talented young driver, but he also benefits from having a famous dad with deep pockets to help finance his race team.
"When you see a driver show with a $700,000 or $800,000 hauler, it gives you some idea of what you're up against," Meyer said, adding with a laugh: "My budget's not quite in that range."
Meyer, who began racing Mini-Cups at age 14, found himself up against some equally heavy hitters this season in the Fairground's Late Model Division. One of his competitors was two-time Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin.
"I hate to lose," said Meyer, who posted a couple of top-five finishes but had no wins in the local series, "but racing against strong competition is how you get better. If I'm going to advance in the sport, that's what I've got to do. Hopefully in a couple of years I'll be able to go out and beat drivers like Chase and Sterling."
Meyer has one race remaining this year, and it's a big one. He will travel to Pensacola, Fla., early next month to run either the premier Snowball Derby or the secondary Late Model 100-lapper.
"I want to run the Snowball if I can come up with some sponsorships," he said. "If not, then I'll run the Late Model race. It's not the Snowball, but it's still a big event and attracts a lot of attention."
Meyer qualified for last year's Snowball Late Model preliminary, 23rd-fastest among 51 entries from across the country, and was running strong when he got caught up in another driver's crash.
"It was a disappointing way to end the season," he said, "but I tried to take some positives away from it. I had a fast, competitive car until I got wiped out, and I felt like I could run with those guys."
Meyer, who is employed by Asurion of Mt. Juliet, is single -- which he said is an advantage for an aspiring young racer.
"I can spend as much time as necessary working on my race car and traveling to tracks," he said. "I'm dedicated to building a career in the sport."
Highland Rim running: While Fairgrounds Speedway concluded its season last weekend, Highland Rim Speedway has a full schedule on tap Sunday. For tickets, times and other information, consult the track's website.