DELMAR, Del. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell — Steve Sabo photo —
For Bob Hilbert Sportswear Short Track Super Series driver Jordan Watson, this weekend’s Diamond State 50 at Charles Cathell’s Delaware International Speedway will be a homecoming of sorts.
Watson, who currently is sixth in the Velocita South Region points standings for the Short Track Super Series, crafted his career — and subsequently made a name from himself and his organization — at the half-mile dirt track in Delmar, Delaware.
In fact, over the course of five seasons, Watson has competed at the facility in both the Crate 602 Sportsman division (know at the track as the PSC AC Delco Modifieds) and the NAPA Big Block Modifieds, cutting his teeth and learning race craft.
After his tenure at the track, Watson finished with multiple wins in both the Crate 602 Sportsman class and the Big Block Modifieds. He also scored championships in both divisions, leaving the Delaware region as a serious competitor across the northeast.
Last season, Watson earned the highlight win of his career-to-date, winning the second annual Blast at the Beach — a Short Track Super Series event held at Georgetown Speedway in September — and pocketed more than $5,000 in the triumph.
The victory was made even sweeter because it came in Georgetown, Delaware, where his fans and friends were able to celebrate along with him. Georgetown is located about 30 minutes from Delaware International Speedway.
Now, almost eight months removed from that career-changing win, the 27-year-old hotshoe is hoping to repeat that level of performance — and win the Diamond State 50.
“We definitely have some confidence going into Delaware,” Watson expressed to Race Chaser Online this week. “Last season, we won the dirt track championship there and in 2014 we won the track championship. As a team, are expectations are high because of how many laps we have turned there.”
“We have won races in a Big Block Modified and a Crate Modified there. After all, it is the place that I started racing. I look forward to going back there. Thursday night is a huge deal for me. I have a lot of family and friends that will be in attendance.”
Along with Delaware being where Watson cut his teeth and built his name, he will also be surrounded by family, friends and supporters that he has not seen in awhile — making the homecoming even more exciting for him.
“We are not a local race team in Delaware anymore,” Watson explained. “I don’t get to see the fans as much, and family doesn’t come out as much. I am going to see a lot of people, including sponsors, that I don’t get to see that often come out and support me. Hopefully, we can put a good show on for them.”
However, with the home crowd advantage also comes some amount of pressure. And while While does feel the the anticipation rising, he’s hoping more than anything to simply represent Delaware’s fan base and track well with a successful showing.
“I would like to say that we are going into this race with no pressure, but that would be a lie,” Watson said. “Like I told my team, we are just a local team from Delaware, and we are just going to go into there and race. The outcome is going to be what it is going to be. I would love to be competing for a win though.”
This will not be Watson’s first rodeo in the Short Track Super Series at Delaware, either.
Last season, he appeared in his fourth start of his rookie campaign in the series at Cathell’s track. However, he completed a mere 19 laps before retiring, relegating him to a 25th place finish.
“Last season we went to Delaware and we struggled in the series,” Watson added. “We went to the first few races in the Short Track Super Series and did not even make the field. This season, we have went to a few racetracks for the second time and have improved.”
“I almost feel like we put too much pressure on ourselves going into Delaware last season. We tried to force things. It was just a bad night altogether.”
Looking past the Diamond State 50 at Delaware this Thursday, the Milford, Delaware native is planning to finish the remainder of the Short Track Super Series season — competing for his first championship in Brett Deyo’s series.
“Going forward, we are just looking to run as best we can,” Watson explained. “We are trying to remain in the hunt. There is a lot of good cars in the series, but there is also a lot of luck that plays into it. You are going to have to have a little bit of luck to win the championship.”
Three races into the season, Watson has recorded two top five finishes — coming at Georgetown and Big Diamond Speedway — and finds himself sixth in the points standings.
“I feel like everytime we go to the race track and compete against these guys, we are getting better,” he added. “But, as a team and as a driver, that is what we are working on — improving.”
Along with chasing a championship in the Short Track Super Series this season, Watson has also been competing in Bridgeport Speedway’s Spirit Dodge Big Block Modifieds. He finished second to his uncle and veteran Big Block Modified driver Jamie Mills in their season-opening race last month.
“Bridgeport is one of the hardest tracks to run at weekly, based on the surface,” Watson concluded. “I feel like if you can go there, and run top five, then you are really building yourself up to go to other race tracks. We are just trying to better ourselves by running there.”
For now though, there is one thing at the forefront of Watson’s mind — his homecoming at Delaware International Speedway — and as he walks with a little swagger in his step, the local hero is hoping for a triumph.
Gates open for Thursday’s Diamond State 50 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, with racing scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start time.
Listen in to an extended cut of Race Chaser Online’s conversation with Jordan Watson:
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.
Email Marshall at: [email protected]
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