Jordan Anderson credits time and perseverance for Bolen Motorsports’s gains – but his own heart and soul is just as important.
The No. 66 team brought home a 14th-place finish at Pocono Raceway, his second top 15 of 2016. He was running eighth before contact with another competitor sent him spinning. The comeback is impressive, yet the driver is enthusiastic about running in the top 10. Anderson was surrounded by series front runners John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, and Ben Kennedy, outrunning the latter before the incident. Grounded by that fact, he knows it makes a huge statement.
“I know how small a team we are, and it’s definitely a humbling experience when you can run against guys that big, with that big of a budget and hundreds of employees when you got three guys back at the shop,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “It’s a really neat feeling to be able to pull that off, and hopefully, there are many runs like that as the season goes on.”
Anderson’s first full-time Camping World Truck Series season is full of similar runs; he also finished 11th at Gateway Motorsports Park and had a top 10 run going at Kansas Speedway before an accident relegated him to 29th. The results don’t communicate the transformation of this small organization, which came together at the beginning of January and missed two races at the start of 2016. They are making strides, and the driver believes time played a huge factor in creating team cohesion.
He said, “No matter what it is, it takes a few months to find that rhythm and groove and what works. I think that’s exactly what it was for us; it took us some time to settle in and find what would make us go fast and what would click. I think we found it and definitely hit on a couple of things.”
The organization is the quintessential little engine that could, running against top contenders when every piece falls into place. This team has strength – a strength that goes beyond fast trucks and notable finishes.
The Bolen Motorsports shop opens at 7:30 every morning. Crew chief Paul Clapprood, the truck chief, and a tire specialist work on their machines. While Clapprood and company work on the No. 66, Anderson is glued to his computer, trying to sell the truck – and himself – to businesses. With his business management degree – with a concentration in motorsports marketing – from Belmont Abbey College, the driver spends hours making sponsorship packages and sending them to potential investors, hoping to catch someone’s eye. He is always emailing and calling companies while he designs his hero cards. When he isn’t behind a steering wheel, he is camped out in an office chair. At the moment, he is a public relations rep, marketing coordinator, and brand manager rolled into one.
Some people give blood, sweat, and tears. Although it seems impossible, Anderson gives even more. His team offers even more. Depending on what needs to be done, a workday can last until 7:00 at night. Or midnight. Or 2:00 a.m. Long nights are a small price to pay to chase your dream – even if obstacles stand in your way.
“Racing is unlike any other sport out there,” he said, adding, “You can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows within a one to two-day span. This is such a crazy sport that, if you’re not really grounded in who you are as a person, it can really shake you up. I’ve been really fortunate to experience a lot of the highs and a lot of the lows in this sport.”
He remained optimistic through the ups and downs. To him, it is all part of the journey. Anderson compares this season to climbing Mount Everest, and there is a reason why mountains are meant to be climbed; the view at the top is more breathtaking when you have to endure struggles to see it.
He said, “That climber doesn’t experience the same joy if he doesn’t go through the journey of climbing that mountain, whereas if he walked out his front door and was already at the mountain top. That journey from the bottom to the top is sometimes about the process. That’s kind of been the story of my life, to go through those struggles and persevere long enough to see the success and the things that come as a result, the fruit of the hard work.”
Bristol Motor Speedway is next on the schedule, a place where hard work tends to end up as crumpled sheet metal. Small teams like Bolen Motorsports circle the date on their calendars and prepare for the worse. Ironically, it is also the sight of opportunity for drivers who can avoid the carnage. For Anderson, the battle lies in walking the thin line between going all out and protecting one of the few trucks he has left.
“At a place like Bristol, if you can find that balance, sometimes a lot of other guys will be overaggressive and get themselves in trouble and damage their cars,” he said. “It might give us the opportunity to get one of those top 15 finishes. You never really know at a place like that, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The first part of 2016 had its obstacles, but time allowed the No. 66 crew to find their rhythm and led to more solid performances. Everyone in the organization kept pushing, and Anderson is their biggest advocate for perseverance. Despite his doubts early on, the driver is more confident than ever before that this team is capable of greater things – and that his dream is within reach. That is why he works so hard to build up the credibility they deserve.
“The story my team followed at the beginning of this year was just never giving up, no matter how crazy things seem or what kind of storm is around us,” he said. “It’s about never giving up and just staying after it.”
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