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OBSERVATIONS: Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Although the racing was a little more spread out than you’d expect for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, the same result was seen when the checkered flag was flown in the Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Everybody knows the joy that Kyle Busch gets from winning, and the disappointment he feels with defeat – just look at the frustration in several interviews over the years. So it’s no surprise to see him with a big smile in his face as he celebrated with his own team.

While it’s fun to pad his record book with a career 53rd career victory, there’s actually a method to the madness.

Rudy Fugle told Fox Sports 1 that putting Busch behind the wheel of his own trucks is all about improving them to the program stronger so their young drivers can contend for victories and the championship, making reference to Christian Eckes jumping behind the wheel later this year. While many believe they are where they should be, Fugle reference more work needing to be done to get there. The victory was nice, but Busch fought a tight truck through the night and the team was unable to win the title last year with Noah Gragson.

It goes back to last week, and the expectations that Busch has for the program. When he places a driver in the truck, he expects them to perform. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you may be replaced by the next person in line for the job. Just look at what he said in reference to Todd Gilliland last week.

“Todd (Gilliland) we certainly have to work with him and continue to bring him up and get him filled in on what it takes to be fast at these places,” Busch said. “We’ll hopefully be able to get him places because you know his career is on the line. You don’t get very many chances at this and I’m sure that we’ll hopefully be able to get him going better. He should have run two races last year, no question about it, but obviously it just didn’t happen. He’s got to show up this year and make it happen.

“There were times last year where Todd wrecked every week and we were like dude you got to just slow down, you’ve got to figure out how to finish. To finish first, first you must finish, right?”

Some people may say it is cruel and certainly Busch was criticized for his comments, but it is the nature of business. Sponsors are only going to pay for those who succeed and money is necessary to pay the bills and perform. 

Thus far, both Harrison Burton and Gilliland have scored top-10’s in the last two races, with Burton running as high as second in the late stages last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Though when the action picks back up for the series at Martinsville Speedway, those aren’t the results that KBM is looking for, but rather checkered flags.

Late race heartbreak could be used to describe the nights for small fries Ross Chastain and Jordan Anderson. Both of them were set for respectable finishes given the equipment they were running until running into mechanical issues late. As a result, Chastain failed to finish in the top-10 for the first time this year, while Anderson placed 21st.

Anderson spoke highly of his program entering the year, banking on experience and the alliance with GMS Racing to bring him further up the grid to a solid top-20, possible top-10 performer. He was able to finish 19th at Atlanta last weekend after getting crashed out at Daytona. 

If you’re looking for an underdog to follow this year, the No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado is exactly that as Anderson is impressing as he enters his second season of doing things on his own, and slowly building his team. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

New Season, New Expectations for Jordan Anderson Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway already taking place, most drivers fly in and out of town. Alternatively,  Jordan Anderson drove down to Daytona Beach. The South Carolina native is no stranger to driving his race trucks to tracks but his race team is in a better scenario this season than they were last year.

This time a year ago, Anderson only had two race trucks and were hauling their trucks from a pick-up truck pulling a small trailer, focused on finishing races and taking care of their budget. That has not changed much, but Anderson is excited about his team’s new alliance with GMS Racing.

“We have definitely stepped up.” Anderson told POPULAR SPEED. “We bought two older trucks from GMS to try and help our program step up so we’re now up to seven trucks. This time last year we only had two trucks, a superspeedway and intermediate truck. We are slowly but surely building the program up. We also have a new hauler, and everyone is working super hard to get everything built up.”

Anderson’s race team is looking to build off the new alliance. The partnership has helped scientifically, and one example is that this season Anderson is running strictly the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.

Last season, the team ran a mixture of both Silverado’s and Toyota Tundra’s but during the winter, GMS helped them convert their Daytona truck from a Tundra to Silverado.

“They are helping us out with our pull down.” Anderson said. “They have been helping us out with our set up builds so I think in the long run it is going to be a big asset for us. All our trucks are still really different than what their trucks are, so we are trying to streamline that process, change our lowers and move to what kind of spindles they have, and it just takes time and money to get it all switched over.”

As bigger teams worry about stage points throughout the race, Anderson is solely focused on finishing strong. For a small team like his, strong results bring in more purse money and that is how they will be able to fully transition with the GMS alliance.

“I’m excited about our chances this year to step our program up in the field.” Anderson said. “We were always a 20-25 place truck last year now were going to hopefully bump it up to a 10-15 place truck. It’s a process, to really go up against the top guys our budget is not anywhere near those guys, but we are trying to step it up.”

Last season, he scored two top-10 finishes and they were both on superspeedway tracks.

“We were the only truck here to finish in the top-10 in both superspeedway races so if we can keep that stat going and go for a third one here I’ll be super happy.” Anderson said. “A lot of guys out there are racing for stage points but for us small teams stage points don’t pay purse money. We have to really be there at the end to get that purse money so that is big for our team to survive and keep growing.”

Anderson aims to grab more top-10 to top-15 finishes in other sized tracks other than superspeedways. A strong finish in an intermediate or short track will add more confidence to building his team.

“You don’t want to set such high expectations that you put yourself in a bad spot but were at the point now that yes, we have eight trucks, but we have four trucks that are complete and the other four are just the chassis and the body.” Anderson said. “The goal for us the first five to six races is to finish every race and try to compete against those guys but not put ourselves in a spot where we tear trucks up. I think if we look at our goals from last season we can say that we just want to improve on that.”

Anderson sets his eyes on improvements this season. He is stoked about the 2019 season and is looking to learn and build off it. His never give up attitude has led his team to growth and become more prosperous in the future.

EMAIL BRANDON AT: brandon.rivero@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MrBrandonRivero

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Jordan Anderson

Jordan Anderson has always preached persistence and determination from the day he entered the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and his hard work is paying off. Currently in the midst of his best season on the tour, he enters the break sitting 16th in the points standings.

POPULAR SPEED recently caught up with the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado to get his thoughts. 

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts looking back on Canadian Tire Motorsports Park?

JORDAN ANDERSON: Good weekend for us. We had some things that happened early on in the weekend that were a little challenging for us. We unloaded off the truck with two trucks; we had a partnership with JJL Motorsports to field the No. 97 truck, and then we had the (No.) 3 truck that I normally race. Everybody did a great job at our end helping to prepare both of those trucks, and we drove up there. It was a long trip up there, but it was a safe one.

We unloaded off and fought some suspension issues really all day in practice as we’d go out and come back in and couldn’t put our finger on it. We really only got two laps of practice with my truck before race day. Qualifying rained out – I say rained out, but we didn’t buy rain tires; we elected to watch and that’s what relegated us to start where we did.

For us to overcome all of the obstacles and fight through the race and put ourselves in the position that we did, it really speaks volumes about the guys that I’ve got behind me and their encouragement to keep pushing hard on the track and never giving up. We kept working and made several adjustments – I think we probably went down on the trackbar 10 rounds and took lots of rounds of wedge out of the truck.

A big weekend for us, and that’s hopefully what we’ll keep doing being a small team and making the most of what we got. If we can have quiet, low-key days and bring home top 20 finishes with the truck in one piece, it’s a great day. A lot of trucks were torn up there, but we have a truck that we can massage on and make better for the next one.

I think it really puts us in a good spot to move forward to Vegas and keep our momentum going because the truck that we finished 13th at Michigan, we’re going to prepare to take out to Vegas. So a lot of good things for us.

Canadian Tire Motorsports Park has always been good for me. I’ve had a 16th, another 16th back in 2015, finished 13th there in 2016. So I love the road courses. It’s always a fun element. The fans are amazing up there in Ontario all the way around the race track. It was really cool to see how many people came up and spoke to me, and came by to say hi that had our t-shirts and autograph cards. It’s cool to see people that are following the truck series north of the border.

PS: How would you rate your season to date?

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

JORDAN: An amazing year. If you would’ve asked me how would I predict our season to go back in January when we announced this team, everything we’ve been able to accomplish is beyond expectations. From the ninth-place at Daytona earlier this year, to the 13th-place finish at Michigan, to logging 10 top-20 finishes, which is the most that I’ve been able to log in one season. That’s just amazing to see that for us being a first-year team and the obstacles that we’ve had to overcome.

To be able to log those finishes is what allows you to build a team. I’ve got some great guys in the shop that have been with us. We’ve had some guys that started the year with us that had to take a different route and get out of racing. Some new guys have come into help us, and my crew chief Kevin has been a huge help for us. I’ve got three other guys that have been helping us in the shop to keep us going. I’ve had other people come in after their nine-to-five to help this team; they’ve all been a huge help to putting us in the position we are in now.

I think the biggest thing to summarize our year is to never give up. I’ve always kind of told people the story of embracing the journey, and that’s what this year has been about. We started the year with a lot of unknowns, not sure what to expect, what was going to happen; it was new for a lot of us and my partners that made the jump with us to start this new team. They didn’t know how things were going to go, and I’ve been unbelievably blessed in the people that have stepped up.

We did the Fueled by Fans at Michigan and Bristol, and so many people that have been with me from day one are still with us and still supporting us. It’s pretty humbling to see the outpouring of support, and people that generally are happy to see us do well. It definitely makes the long days worth it when you can see people that are behind you, supporting you, and cheering us on.

PS: That said, where do you feel you and your team can be stronger?

 JORDAN: I think the biggest thing for us and our goal at the start of the year – I kind of shared this when we did our unveiling at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, but I had three goals – to run every race, to log a top-10 finish, and get ourselves a top-20 points finish. We knocked that top-10 out of the way, and we’ve been able to get at every race this year; we even had that opportunity with Ryan Newman at Eldora to come drive for us. I think I’m 16th in driver points.

I think the biggest thing for us is to keep doing what we’re doing, and take advantage of the off-season coming up because when we hit the ground running at Daytona, we only had the superspeedway truck and had to thrash to get our other truck together. We’ve been able to acquire some more parts and pieces throughout the year, and meet some people who have offered help to allow us to build more trucks to get further ahead on the schedule.

I think the biggest thing coming up is the off-season. When we get back from Homestead-Miami, everybody that is working with me now – our plan is to work all winter to strip our trucks apart, build them better, and put new parts in them to step our performance up so that when we do hit Daytona next year, and we go to Atlanta, Vegas, we want to put our best foot forward.

If we can do what we did this year as a new team, if we can reproduce our performance and keep everybody together, it’s encouraging to think what we may be able to accomplish.

PS: Of the tracks left on the truck series schedule, what race are you looking forward to the most?

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

JORDAN: That’s a good question because it’s really cool how our season finishes up.

I’ve been looking forward to Talladega ever since Daytona. For us as a small team, it’s really an equalizer. We’ve got a really good truck that can go there and compete. Our plan for Talladega is much like Daytona; we just have to run our race and keep the nose clean and stay out of trouble and finish.

I think one of the other ones I’m looking forward to is Las Vegas. We got our best qualifying effort there earlier this year – 16th – and we’re taking our BKR (Brad Keselowski Racing) truck there. So Vegas in two weeks I think is one that we’re really looking forward to, and I think that’s one of those tracks that will treat us well for another top-15 finish.

PS: You mentioned the fun you had at CTMP. Would you like to see more road courses on the schedule?

 JORDAN: It’s kind of hard for us to build a road course specific truck with only one track on the schedule that is a road course. NASCAR has been open to ears in asking us about the schedule, and making things better for us on the team’s end, so I’m always thankful for that open ear that NASCAR gives us.

I ran a year of road course racing back in 2014, and always loved the close competition that road courses give. With Road Atlanta being right down the road here in North Carolina and Virginia International Raceway not far from us as well, I think it’d be cool to see that.

You also have the short track discussion, too, and places like Nashville. I think it was Matt Weaver that wrote a article about the potential of bringing Nashville back on the schedule for the truck series.

I think the more that we can keep the fans involved in the truck series and allowing it to keep its identity, it’s going to provide health to the sport. I think you look at places like Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, the short tracks – the fans like the truck series because of the grassroots level to it. You have guys like myself, and other drivers that were running the truck series and that’s our home for now.

I definitely would like to see a couple more road courses on the schedule down the road.

PS: Given your journey, what is your advice to up and coming racers? 

JORDAN: Man, it’s kind of funny because I know in life there’s often times, whether racing, life in general, relationships, or work, you often go through things and say, ‘If I only knew what I knew now five or 10 years ago’. I think the biggest thing for me is to never give up. Don’t let the obstacle of funding, sponsorship, or what other drivers are spending get in the way of what you’re doing.

MATTHEW THACKER | NKP

For years when I was racing Legends Cars or Late Models, it always seemed like it was the common denominator of not having the right motor, older car, or not having enough help. There was always these things that were in front of us and it never seemed it’d be possible to get to the NASCAR ranks. But then I had an opportunity here, and an opportunity there, and it’s just amazing how things turned out. You had just had to keep showing up every week.

That’s why it was amazing earlier this year that we were able to put Brian in one of our trucks at Gateway Motorsports Park and give him an opportunity to make his first start when we partnered up with Premium. I think it was cool seeing a lot of myself in Brian in that he’s been on the same journey of trying to make things happen.

I look back on my career, and I think so much of it is keeping your faith, and knowing that God has a plan for us, whether the plan you want or he wants. I always share this with my guys but whatever is going to happen, is going to happen whether you want it to or not. All you can do is keep showing up every day and doing the best job that you can, and I think that’s the biggest thing.

That’s how we run this race team – we do the best that we can with what we have, and we enjoy the ups and downs. It’s kind of like that t-shirt saying that we had with the saying ‘never give up’ and the picture of the mountain top. If you start at the top and stay there, you don’t appreciate the journey as much as when you start at the bottom and have to start and claw from the bottom.

Every day, you have to keep yourself in check. I used to keep journals back when I was racing Late Models and I look back at the goals and things I wanted to accomplish and to see where we are now, it’s definitely been a blessing.

The biggest thing I would say to drivers is don’t let anybody discourage you from your dreams, what makes you stay up at night, and the things you want to accomplish because with a little bit of time, a lot of faith, persistence, and keep showing up striving after the goal, it’s amazing what you can accomplish.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trucks

Jordan Anderson Taking Own Approach to Full Truck Campaign

With a new number on the door panels of his Toyota Tundra, a new partnership, and marketing in hand, the pieces have come together for Jordan Anderson for 2018.

The 26-year-old took to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday, announcing he will run the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule under Jordan Anderson Racing.

“The opportunity to do what we’re doing this year is only through the selfless efforts of so many amazing people behind the scenes and a culmination of hard work, sacrifice, and answered prayers over the years,” said team principal and driver Jordan Anderson. “To take the next step in my racing career this way is very humbling, and extremely meaningful. Our entire team is made up of guys that love racing, and we’re all eager to see what adventures the years ahead hold for us.”

The announcement allowed him to reveal the brand new blue and white No. 3 Bommarito Automotive/Lucas Oil Products Toyota that he will drive in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway. Anderson will also receive marketing support from LTi Printing, Jacob Companies, and Knight Fire. 

“Seeing Jordan grow from when we first partnered up in 2016 at the Gateway Motorsports Park, to where he is now as we toured his shop yesterday and talked with the crew – it’s been a fantastic journey,” John Bommarito said. “It’s an honor to have him as part of the Bommarito family. He’s a driver that represents our brand with integrity, and we appreciate that”

The new season will see a return of Anderson’s Fueled By Fan’s SponsorJordan.com website, as fans continue to help towards his goals.

“The support we’ve received from the fans of our sport the past 2 years has been very special” said Anderson. “Our entire season last year was a success because of the fans and the relationships made. The reason why all this is happening for 2018 is the same reason. There’s nothing more moving than having the people that make our sport what it is, support you in your journey.”

Anderson will also receive support from Niece Motorsports, and has acquired four trucks to kick off 2018 with. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

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Anderson: Atlanta Crash Could be “Blessing in Disguise”

At Atlanta Motor Speedway when Jordan Anderson crashed, it was believed his season could be over. It was the only truck his team had.

However, a fan fundraising campaign is set to have Anderson back on track in May at Kansas Speedway. He and his team are currently spending time in the shop, putting the truck they ran last year at Kansas back together to race. Through their campaign, he says they’ve raised a little over a third of what’s needed to go racing.

After Anderson had told MRN Radio his season could be over, fans began to reach out through social media.

“It’s really been humbling to see that outreach of support, and it’s really got me motivated to keep digging,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “We just started this team back up two weeks before Daytona and started really from scratch. I’m excited about the rest of the season and what to come at Kansas, Dover, Charlotte, and the races following. Really looking to build this team up, get going and get into the top-20 in points come November in Miami.”

Copyright: Barry Cantrell | NKP
Copyright: Barry Cantrell | NKP

The fan-funded campaign is nothing new for Anderson, as it was done last year in September. Anderson blew the team’s only motor at Chicagoland Speedway, leaving them sitting on the sidelines for New Hampshire and the rest of 2016.

“I tweeted out to a bunch of fans if anybody knows anybody in the New Hampshire area or have any advice to get to the track or any company that could help us pull this deal off,” Anderson said. “Several fans said, ‘Hey, is there a way we could support you to where we keep you on the race track? What do we have to do.’ A few fans said, ‘If you get a website going where we can sponsor you, help you get to the track or buy you some fuel, help put money towards a new motor, we’re all in.'”

Having a business management degree – with a concentration in motorsports marketing – from Belmont Abbey College, Anderson stayed up late that night putting together a website – Fueled by Fans at sponsorjordan.com. Within 36 hours, he raised enough money to buy a motor and race that weekend.

“As a driver, it’s probably the most meaningful thing to see is fans tweeting their support, or commenting on Facebook – whether it’s encouragement, a prayer, just saying that they support you,” he said. “I’m kind of the average every joe racer. I come from a middle-class family in South Carolina and in a sport driven so much by corporate sponsorships and funding where money buys speed, just being able to have an opportunity to be in the sport is a huge blessing. Just to have a chance to be here, and to have the support of the fans to pull that off is what makes it so special.”

Anderson feels everybody can relate to him as he’s “the people’s driver,” going through the same highs and lows everyone has in life. Noting nobody’s life is perfect, he says his dream to race in NASCAR is relate-able to someone trying to get through college or buy their first house.

“We’re all trying to accomplish things that sometimes seem that the odds are against us,” he added. “To be able to overcome those odds and make those dreams & goals happen is cool to do that on a scale and sport like NASCAR. To be the David vs. Goliath in the sport – where we can be on the track and compete against these big teams. So I think that’s why it’s been so cool to see the fans become a part of our program.”

It can be easy to get down while facing adversity, but Anderson says he’s able to stay upbeat due to all this support from fans and family as “when you have people in your life that are constantly motivating you, encouraging you, it makes a huge difference.” He adds his faith has also been critical, too.

“I think at the core of everything, and what makes Jordan tick is my faith,” he said. “That’s at the foremost of my racing and my life in general. That’s what keeps me motivated, keeps me focused, keeps me able to stay positive through all this stuff knowing that God has gotten me here for a reason. He’s allowing things to happen for a reason as everything happens for a reason.”

Perhaps the ability to withstand everything comes from having faced adversity through life.

Copyright: Barry Cantrell | NKP
Copyright: Barry Cantrell | NKP

His family wasn’t involved in racing, noting his father is involved in property management while his mother is a hairdresser. However, from the age of six, he wanted to be a racecar driver, so his parents got him a go-kart to drive around town. A chance meeting at seven-years-old changed things, as he met up with another racing family who offered him the opportunity to test at a track.

The test went well, and he began competing, working his way up to Legends Cars and winning the 2005 Legend Car Nationals. He then spent two years in dirt late models, along with running some super late model, K&N Pro Series, and Pro Cup Series. It all came together for Anderson to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Phoenix Raceway in 2014.

“As they say, the rest is history from there,” he said. “It’s been an amazing journey to run the truck and XFINITY races because, for years, it kind of goes back to being the people’s driver. For years ever since I can remember in my teenage years racing Legend cars, everybody kept saying unless you got the huge corporate funding behind you and you can write a big check, you’ll never be able to make or open doors in NASCAR.

“Just through hard work, and aligning myself with good sponsors – I have been very blessed through the years with great sponsors that have supported me. Lucas Oil came onboard this year. Knight Fire Protection, LPI Printing – grassroots, everyday people sponsors that are just like me who can relate to my story. So where I’m at in my racing career – it’s not just one thing Jordan Anderson has done. It’s been all of the people that have supported me over the years and sponsored me and sacrificed their time and believed in me over the years. Those are the people that are why I am at where I am today.”

While noting this isn’t the ideal situation, Anderson says the crash has worked out as a blessing in disguise.

“It’s allowed me to connect with my fans and my supporters on a completely new level, and allow them to be apart of this program,” he said. “We’re going to look back on this three, four, five months from now when we’re competing on the race track and say the fans are what made Jordan Anderson’s season. The fans are why Jordan Anderson is on the race track.

“If that’s not motivation, then I don’t know what is. That’s just got me so amped up and so fueled up to keep doing my best and keep digging every week. When I wake up in the morning and go to the race shop, that’s what I’m thinking. ‘What can I do today to make the most happen and be a good representative for my fans and get back to the track to keep evolving this whole deal?'”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Bowman, Others Pay Price of Current Youth Movement

The sport’s current youth movement is history unfolding before our eyes – but not without repercussions for others.

Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez are the most notable names in this group; both are in contention for the 2016 XFINITY Series championship as Jones prepares to move into the Sprint Cup Series next season. These Joe Gibbs Racing drivers exemplify what every young gun wants to become – competitive and desired.

Other drivers are hot commodities as well; William Byron, Cole Custer, and Daniel Hemric will leave the Camping World Truck Series for XFINITY rides in 2017. On the Sprint Cup side, Chase Elliott is competing for a championship in his first season with Hendrick Motorsports. His first victory is most likely right around the corner as well, signifying the younger crowd is thriving in these sought-after seats.

The tide has certainly changed over the past five years, with fresh perspective now trumping accrued experience. This monumental shift is having ripple effects within organizations in all three series.

But what happens if you missed the boat?

Since the summer race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Alex Bowman has dazzled as a fill-in for a sidelined Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He wheeled the No. 88 to a seventh-place finish – his career best – while battling the stomach flu. Just a few years ago, Bowman moved up to Sprint Cup too fast and struggled with an underfunded team. He had no ride for 2016 until Earnhardt offered him a part-time gig in the No. 88 JR Motorsports machine. Despite his impressive runs, he currently has nowhere to go in 2017 – even though, at 25-years-old, his future seems pretty bright regarding ability. Youth became a bigger focus right after Bowman broke into the sport, putting him at a disadvantage. His age is also a bit high when compared to the Custers and Byrons in the sport.

You could say the same for two other talented drivers – Jordan Anderson and Ryan Truex.

Anderson began racing at a young age but took a different route into NASCAR; he went to college and earned a degree in Motorsports Marketing, gathering knowledge that would help him attract sponsors and move up in the sport. Unfortunately, this makes him older than the target age. At 25, he is struggling to run a complete schedule despite accumulating four top 15s and a solid fan base. His future rests on dollar signs, which is an uneasy place to be in this sport.

Truex has solid stats in CWTS while racing a partial schedule for Hattori Racing Enterprises; his 11 starts brought a top five and a top 10. He hasn’t found a stable place to call home since his back-to-back K&N Pro Series East championships in 2009 and 2010. He has been on a grind to compete full-time, fueled by his older brother’s success and tenacity. Martin Truex, Jr. just hit his high point, meaning the younger Truex has lots of motivation and hope.

Optimism can only get you so far. That’s when the money comes in.

Not being part of the youth movement puts Bowman, Anderson, and Truex at a huge disadvantage in regards to sponsorship; with Kyle Busch as their guide, Jones, Suarez, and Byron have had more exposure to companies and already have relationships with corporations. That makes the pool of potential investors quite small. Also, teams weren’t observing young talent when Bowman and Co. rose through the ranks. In Jones’s case, his affiliation with JGR made it a lot easier to move up to his 2017 Cup Series ride.

The youth movement does a lot of good things that should not be ignored. However, there are repercussions for drivers who barely missed the cut-off age. That – along with financial struggles – makes it difficult for Bowman, Anderson, and Truex to compete full-time. Although driving the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports is a sweet gig and provides a lot of exposure, Bowman still has that uncertainty hanging over his head. At the same time, Anderson and Truex worry about making the events. And there are dozens of talented drivers having the same dilemma at the grassroots level. As organizations strive to lower their lineup’s average age, a domino effect is taking place. When one young gun signs a developmental deal, that’s the seat a more seasoned driver envisioned in their dreams.

The young talent deserves to be noticed – but it has caused issues for those who were simply born earlier.

EMAIL KRISTEN AT kristen.schneider@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KristenS_Writes

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Anderson Thankful For Social Media Support; Will Run Fan-Fueled Truck Again at Texas

Fan support has meant a great deal in Jordan Anderson’s young NASCAR career.

The 25-year-old wheelman drives the No. 66 Chevrolet for Bolen Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series. However, lack of funding has impeded Anderson from competing in all the series’ events, so he turned to social media for support.

“I had some fans tweeting to me after I said I was looking for a sponsor for New Hampshire because we blew a motor at Chicago the week before,” Anderson told POPULAR SPEED. “We’re a small team, and we only had one motor. We did not have the funding to get one for New Hampshire.

“So, I reached out to social media to try to find a sponsor. Then, a couple of fans said, ‘Hey, if you create a Go Fund Me account or something like that, we’ll help out however we could.’”

Anderson created a website called www.SponsorJordan.com, which offers fans the opportunity to sponsor his race team’s truck. Through the site, people can contribute to the No. 66 team’s budget by donating any amount ranging from $20 to $5,000.

Last month at the mile-long track, the website’s goal came to fruition when Anderson’s truck donned a “Fueled By Fans” logo across the bed and on the side panels.

Anderson also hand wrote the 120 names of each person who contributed to Bolen Motorsports’ funding as a token of appreciation.

“I wanted to think of how I could give back to those that helped our program a little bit,” Anderson said. “I thought it would be cool to do something different because I’ve seen names printed on a decal. That just didn’t feel authentic to me, and I wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ So I felt like personally handwriting every person’s name, which I thought was special for me to do it like that.”

Anderson finished 22nd at New Hampshire with the fan-sponsored truck. He plans to run the “Fueled By Fans” machine again next month at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Some people reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, I didn’t even know about this program — I want to help you out again,’” Anderson said. “So we’re going to do another ‘Fueled By Fans’ truck at Texas in a couple of weeks.”

The 2016 season marks the second year for the South Carolina native in the Truck Series. He’s also made four starts in the XFINITY Series this season with Obaika Racing.

His best finish in NASCAR’s second-tier series came at Chicagoland Speedway, where he finished 29th, despite a transmission failure.

But Anderson said his ascendance in the sport is a result of visiting all of NASCAR’s biggest tracks a second time as well as keeping his fans involved with his team.

“I’ve been really fortunate with the fan following. I think the goal of to keep staying in the sport and finding more opportunities to move up has been accomplished this year,” Anderson said. “From the standpoint of a driver, you never stop growing. I‘ve worked really hard this year to grow a better understanding of the sport. It’s so hard to get into the NASCAR garage area as a driver, and it’s a real honor to be there every week.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Anderson Gives Business Expertise, Dedication to Bolen Motorsports

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.”

EMAIL KRISTEN AT kristen.schneider@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Rhodes Salvages 11th at Pocono After Wreck

LONG POND, Pa. — The No. 41 Toyota of Ben Rhodes looked like the fastest ThorSport Racing truck at the start of Saturday’s Pocono Mountains 150 but had to settle for an 11th-place finish after an on-track incident with Jordan Anderson.

Anderson, in the No. 66 Chevrolet and Rhodes got tangled up on Lap 39 in the middle of Turn 1. Rhodes had the bottom line, and Anderson was trying to close the gap on him. The two spun, bringing out the seventh caution of the race. Both drivers were flirting with the top 10 before the wreck, with Rhodes running as high as second on the day.

“We had really good speed in the truck, and I think we had something to contend for the win today,” Rhodes told POPULAR SPEED. “We ran second behind William [Byron] in the beginning for a good part of the race, and we were gapping the guys behind us.”

During the fourth caution, Rhodes was penalized on pit road for too many men over the wall. He restarted from the tail of the field and wasn’t able to climb into the top five after. While racing mid-pack, he and Anderson got too close, and neither could save their trucks from getting sideways.

“We came down pit road and had a penalty,” Rhodes said. “Then when we got back out, we got collected with the 66 — he pinched us down too much, and he took the air away. We still salvaged the day with an 11th-place finish, but we’re not points racing — we’re trying to get wins.”

While Rhodes wasn’t happy with the outcome of the race, he knew the skirmish with Anderson wasn’t intentional. But he made a point of what knowledge a driver can learn from running around fellow competitors throughout the season

“I know it was a racing deal, and he didn’t mean to do it, but I’m still really disappointed with the situation,” Rhodes said. “We had a second-place truck, and he knew we had a really good truck, and he chopped us down to the bottom. We definitely had the spot, and he just held me too close to my right side. You don’t have to touch people at such fast tracks to wreck him, just get near him.

“You have to know who you can race around in this series. People have opinions of me, and I have opinions of other people. You just collect facts and take notes and learn who you can race around and what their driving styles are.”

Rhodes sits 12 in the standings, 18 points behind the eighth-place Chase cutoff — currently tied between Cameron Hayley and Ben Kennedy. Anderson, who ran as high as eighth at the Tricky Triangle, finished 14th and is 22nd in points.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Persistence, Perseverance Lead Jordan Anderson to Next Step

There was one brief moment that Jordan Anderson considered leaving NASCAR to pursue other interests.

The idea ran counter-intuitive to every decision he had made up until that point, but following a stretch of bad luck in 2013 and 2014, he felt it needed to be explored. Anderson first told his parents that he wanted to be a NASCAR driver when he was six-years-old and every subsequent decision reflected that.

Born the son of a property manager and hairdresser, Anderson always had limited resources growing up, but chased his dreams with diligence and unyielding dedication. His father was supportive but told him he would have to work to secure his own fundung and that shaped much of his adult life.

He earned a business and marketing degree from Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina and served as driver, mechanic and public relations concurrently for his much of his professional career in Legends and Late Models.

Like many of his peers, Anderson ended up on the wrong side of several key business decisions and connected with people that didn’t ultimately benefit his career. He was forced to sell his Late Model and it could have pushed him away from the sport he’s sacrificed so much to be a part of.

But he persevered.

“I feel like perseverance is the one word that most describes my entire life,” Anderson said. “Looking back on it, I use to wonder why things would come easier for some other drivers, but it taught me to just put blinders on. It taught me to just focus and do what I needed to accomplish.”

And that’s exactly what Anderson did, eventually making his Truck Series debut in 2014. He was full-time last season, and now Anderson hopes he’s taken another step forward, joining upstart Bolen Racing with long-time friend and fellow South Carolinian Jeff Bolen.

They are joined by the Columbia, South Carolina Tourism Board — meaning all three primary figures of the team are Columbia-bred, an important aspect of their marketing and hospitality strategy.

“It’s definitely an unorthodox sponsor, which I think reflects my career pretty well,” Anderson said. “It works because we’re all from Columbia and we know how to promote our city. It’s a multi-faceted program and we’re going to be able to do a lot of hospitality too.”

On the competition side, Anderson believes he can compete for the occasional top-10 and run around the top-15 on a weekly basis. He also believes that he could shine in restrictor plate and road course events, important as a result of the new eight-team Chase for the Championship.

While he doesn’t expect to compete for a playoff spot in this first season, Anderson doesn’t want to set the ceiling too low either.
“You never really know until you get on the track,” Anderson added. “The caution clock could help us a little bit too. It’s going to change the pit strategy and it could provide elements that play out in our favor.

“For sure, our goal is to make the races. We don’t have a provisional. From there, we’d like to run 10th, and we expect to run around the top-15. We finished 13th last year at Michigan with a short track truck, so anything is possible. I just want to be consistent as a driver, which was something I didn’t fully grasp when I was running short tracks.

“Learning to be more conservative last year really made a difference. If we can just finish the races, a lot of other things will take care of themselves.”

So while Anderson doesn’t expect to immediately compete for wins, simply remaining in the Truck Series and rising up the grid feels like a moral victory for the 24-year-old.

“Even when things were tough, it always came back to being a NASCAR driver. I missed things in school and I sacrificed so much to get here. This makes it all worth it and I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.