February 8, 2014 – Audio and story by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – Photos courtesy Justin Boston – BALTIMORE, MD – For a rookie campaign in the ARCA Racing Series, 24-year-old Justin Boston’s first season was certainly a stout one.
In fact, Boston had a season the likes of which many stock car veterans would long to have. The Maryland native collected eight top fives, 16 top tens and two Menards Pole Awards over the course of the 21-race season to easily become the SCOTT Rookie of the Year in 2013, finishing third in the final points standings behind Frank Kimmel and Mason Mingus.
But for all the accolades Boston did acquire in 2013, he didn’t clear his entire wish list.
“We had a really good season for our rookie year, really my first full year in stock cars,” Boston explained as part of a recent Race Chaser Online interview. “But, I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. We never got to victory lane, even tough we had the speed and we were so close near the end of the season.”
“It just seemed like we were missing a little bit or never quite had the luck fall our way,” Boston added.
Boston, a relatively unknown northern racing prospect, quickly gained national attention after he signed with premier driver development team Venturini Motorsports prior to the 2012 season. At Venturini, the young talent garned the spotlight with his vibrant personality and raw talent behind the wheel.
Unlike most race car drivers, Boston cut his teeth competing in motocross during the late 90’s. A natural thrill-seeker, those watching Justin knew racing was in his blood. And Boston has used his love for adrenaline and unmatched dedication to focus on marching his way up the racing ladder, just as another motocross/off-road racer once did – Jimmie Johnson.
“I had a little bit of an unorthodox path to get to stock cars,” Boston admits, “but a lot of people forget that Jimmie Johnson raced off-road and motocross before he got into NASCAR. The way I look at it is, it doesn’t matter how you get somewhere as long as you can prove you belong.”
The hobby began with a gift for Boston’s fifth birthday: a dirt bike, the first of several he would receive in his career.
After that, success came quickly for the young gun. Boston competed in several national championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee, including a 22nd-place finish in 1998 as well as a state championship triumph at Mechanicsville, Maryland’s Budds Creek. By the time he was 13, Boston had collected more than 300 wins around the country, and was in position to challenge for the top spot in the nation.
However, a motocross accident where a tire pin caught Boston’s lip and his bike nearly destroyed his helmet led his family to take a look at the situation and pull Justin out of racing temporarily.
Boston, undeterred, transitioned into the stock car world shortly after he turned 16 following a weekend visit with family to nearby Dover International Speedway. While visiting a friend of his father’s who was working on a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team, Boston had an epiphany.
“There’s no reason why I can’t do this,” he told his father.
Boston first enrolled in the Buck Baker Driving School at Charlotte Motor Speedway and blew his peers away, having such quick success and blazing through the program that the instructors would tell him to get out of the car because there was simply nothing left for him to tackle.
That rapid learning curve led Boston to Legend Cars, where his quick studying didn’t pay off like he had hoped.
“Our Legends stint was not fun,” Boston laughs. “I tore up a lot of stuff; I wrecked a lot, and kind of got frustrated with the Legend Cars. We started looking for something else to race, and that’s when we got into the big cars.”
Boston moved into the X-1R Pro Cup Series and UARA-STARS Late Model Series in 2009, but struggled to balance his school life and racing career while trekking from Maryland to Charlotte every weekend. He and his family agreed shortly after Boston started college that something needed to change, and Boston relocated to Charlotte for 2010.
That move however, was unproductive at first, as Boston spent 2010 and 2011 watching from the sidelines after being dropped by Turner Motorsports.
“It was the whole reason I moved there, and I couldn’t even do it,” Boston said.
“There were definitely moments when I thought I would never get back in a race car. And I never thought I would get that kind of an opportunity again.”
But yet, the opportunity and more arose when Boston signed ZLOOP Computer and Electronic Recycling Centers as a new sponsor mid-way through 2012 and soon after earned his place on the Venturini Motorsports squad for 2013. And after seeing what Boston was able to do last year, Billy Venturini has even higher hopes for his driver in 2014.
“I think the expectations for him next year are to win the championship, plain and simple,” Venturini said recently to Boston’s home news outlet, the Baltimore Sun, of his outlook on Boston’s 2014 season. “We will win races with him. I can’t even say we hope to because we will win races with him, no doubt in my mind.”
Boston says his ultimate aspiration is to move up the ranks, but he doesn’t want to make the jump too soon.
“I don’t feel like I’m ready to move up until I prove myself in the ARCA car. I need to be up at the front of every race and challenging if I want to be in a position to advance into the NASCAR series and my focus is to do that,” Boston said.
“I want to be the guy everyone’s chasing in ARCA next year; be the person to beat every week and until I’m that guy, I don’t feel I’m ready for that next step. There’s two things left on the ARCA to-do list that I need to accomplish. Win races, and win the championship. And that, I am ready to go do.”
Boston’s 2014 ARCA journey will officially begin with the 51st Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real next Saturday, February the 15th.
Listen in to hear our exclusive interview with 2013 ARCA Rookie of the Year Justin Boston as he talks about his background, 2013 season, and outlook on the upcoming season: