WINAMAC, Ind. — Story by Associate Editor Kyle Magda for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Audio by Kyle Magda, Jacob Seelman and Tom Baker — JJ Haley photo — For 15-year-old J.J. Haley, the 2014 season has been one of learning, both a lot of different cars and a lot about his driving style along the way.
Haley has run a part-time schedule for Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in 2014, and in addition to ARCA, the Indiana driver has made starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, raced a Legends car at the Summer Shootout at Charlotte and a non-winged dirt mini-sprint over the course of his year.
Haley says his season was solid, but he would have liked to have made a few more things happen along the way.
“It could have been a little better and had a few more wins, but that’s what everyone says,” Haley said. “It’s a learning process for everybody and my crew, through all the teams and myself, especially.”
Haley made his ARCA debut at Toledo Speedway in May with an 18th place effort. Since then, he has one top-five and four top-10s in his six starts this season. He also became the youngest pole-sitter in ARCA history at the Elko Speedway in Minnesota in June. Along with the ARCA effort, Haley also ran in two K&N East races at Columbus in July and Iowa in August and noticed a difference between the two cars.
“The K&N car doesn’t really have much motor, not even the comparable amount of motor,” he said of the difference. “It was a little easier to shift on the restart because there’s a bigger bias tire on the K&N car, so it was a little smoother running with everything.
He also talked about how deep the competition is in the K&N series.
“I thought the K&N Series was a little easier, car-wise, but there’s a lot of tough competition,” Haley said. “I give props to all them guys that go out there, week-to-week, and try their hardest. It is a very tough series.”
For Haley, he still has K&N races at Dover (East) and Phoenix (West) on his 2014 plate, along with a few late model races as well. From the high banks of Winchester Speedway to the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, Haley is expanding his learning curve.
“I’m blessed to have all the people I have around me,” he said. “It makes it that more easier to get into a car every week. The biggest obstacle is getting fit into every car because of how short I am and not able to be reaching the pedals or switches.”
Southern Super Series late model driver Daniel Hemric is one of those people who has helped out Haley this season. Hemric has in talks with the 15-year-old driver about getting back into a Legends car in the near future.
“We’ve working a deal right now with Daniel Hemric and all of them to try to do the Winter Heat down in Charlotte,” Haley said. “Hopefully, that goes through and I’d get some road course experience in the Legends car, and maybe help me a little bit for the road course races in the bigger series next year.”
Both drivers were teammates at Ladyga Motorsports during the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout.
Haley is unsure about his 2015 plans, but would like to run a similar schedule to 2014, and possibly run some of the bigger late model races, such as the Snowball Derby and the Winchester 400.
Listen in to J.J’s interview from this past Thursday’s episode of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show below: