NEWTON, Iowa — NASCAR Next alumni Jesse Little is looking to make the most of his limited opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Rette-Jones Racing this season.
One of those chances will come in the Casey’s General Store 150 on Friday night at Iowa Speedway, a combination event between the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West divisions.
For Little, a 19-year-old, Sherrills Ford, N.C. native, his expectations are high returning to the Newton, Iowa track, especially given the fact he has had both a few months preparation for the event and has previous tenure at the .875-mile circuit.
“Our expectations are set high for this race,” Little said. “This is one I have had circled on the calendar all season long. It is a race that I have always look forward to and it is a track that really fits my driving style. I feel like, over the last four or five seasons, I have really honed in on how I like the car to feel at Iowa.”
“So, our expectations are high. I think we have a good shot at going there and running in the top five. Like others, probably, our real goal is go there and come home with the trophy.”
Through seven appearances in the combination race, Little has recorded three top five finishes, including a divisional win (second overall) for the K&N East last season while driving for Hattori Racing.
This go-around holds more prestige, however, as Little looks to capitalize on just his third start this season during a part-time campaign in the K&N Series with Rette-Jones. He knows a good finish, or a potential win, could change the course of his career.
“This race is important to me for many reasons,” Little expressed. “With it being on a higher stage, it is important to go out there and show our potential. But, for me, it’s even more important because I do not have the benefit of competing in the full season.”
“So, this is one of the few races that I get to run this season — and competing on a big stage, I need to go out and make a splash, because I will not have many more opportunities.”
Although it has been disappointing competing in a limited schedule, having few opportunities behind the wheel has allowed Little the chance to explore new avenues and endeavors in the sport, including learning the marketing and business side of the racing industry.
He has also grown a lot in his knowledge of the race cars from spending ample hours in the shop; something he lacked in before this season.
“It has been unfortunate because I have not been able to run as many races as I would have liked to,” Little explained. “But, at the same time, it has forced me to become a better overall racer. I have been in the shop, helping set up the cars and build them — so I know a lot more about the cars and mechanical side then I had before.”
“I have also learned more about the business side — chasing sponsors, marketing and talking to potential investors. So, it has forced me to take a step back, but I certainly would love to be more in the seat them I am now, that is for sure.”
Despite enjoying his time in the shop, Little’s heart remains on the racetrack and in the driver’s seat, where he hopes to be more often than not as the summer months roll on.
For now, following this weekend’s event at Iowa, the team and Little have announced plans to compete in the K&N Pro Series finale at Dover International Speedway in September, along with select Camping World Truck Series events which will be announced at a later date.
“This season, we plan to run Dover after Iowa this weekend on the K&N East side,” Little said. “Dover will be our single race after this weekend. On the Camping World Truck Series side, we are shooting to run Bristol in August. Then, with some sponsors, we will look at some more Truck Series race in late October and November.”
Friday’s Casey’s General Store 150 presented by Vatterott College will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern, with live updates via NASCAR Home Tracks.
Listen to Race Chaser Online’s interview with Jesse Little by clicking on the player below:
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and was also formerly the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, completing his sophomore year. He is just 15 years old.
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