BRISTOL, Tenn. – Even though it’s been nearly a month since Jake Griffin wheeled a brilliant performance at Eldora Speedway driving for Red Horse Racing, the 17-year-old is still reaping the benefits of his first career top-five finish.
“Eldora was huge for me and everyone who believes in my ability,” said Griffin who finished fourth in last month’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby. “I can’t thank Red Horse Racing enough for giving me the opportunity and letting me drive an incredibly fast truck.
“I think a couple more laps and we would have had a better finish. I still feel like I’m on cloud nine and hopefully that will help at Bristol this week.”
Setting back into a little bit of reality, Griffin returns to MB Motorsports where he’ll pilot the No. 63 Advance Training / Backlot Auctions Chevrolet Silverado for long-time owner Mike Mittler.
Despite making four of his five truck series starts with MB Motorsports and all on short tracks, Griffin has never tackled the breathtaking 0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway. The track glistened with the nickname “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” certainly brings a sense of excitement for the Quincy, Illinois native, but equally expectations he is hoping to fulfill in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200.
“I’ve never been to Bristol, but I can’t wait to get there and experience it for myself,” Griffin added. “It’s a place where a short track racer dreams of competing at. I know I have a lot to learn about it, but I’m hoping that doing my homework and watching some of the races in the past will help my learning curve.
“Mike (Mittler, crew chief and truck owner) feels comfortable with the truck he’s bringing, so we’re all hoping for a solid finish at the end of the night.”
Knowing that Bristol or sometimes known as “Thunder Valley” has the ability to be unpredictable, the teenager says he can’t focus on the unknown, but rather the things he and his team can keep in their control.
“We want to have a good outing for Advance Training, Backlot Auctions and all of our supporters on Wednesday night,” Griffin added. “You can be having a good night and before you know it, you can easily find yourself in someone else’s mess. It’s just the rough part of short track racing, but we head to Bristol with the mentality that if you think positive, good things will happen.”
When it comes to good things and considering the competitiveness of the field, Griffin is keeping his expectations realistic – at least in his track debut.
“We’d be happy with a top-20 finish this week,” he said. “It’s Bristol and it’s going to be a competitive race where things happen in a hurry. This isn’t Eldora. I’m just appreciative to be back in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and aboard this No. 63 Advance Training / Backlot Auctions Chevrolet Silverado.
In addition to running Wednesday’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Griffin will make his ARCA Racing Series debut at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Aug. 21 driving for the potent Venturini Motorsports team on dirt.
“After running on pavement on Wednesday night, I’m stoked to get back on some dirt again,” Griffin said with a smile. “I spent some time with Venturini Motorsports this week and they are just as pumped as I am. I honestly feel like we can go there and win!”
Follow Jake Griffin on Twitter @JakeGriffin08 or visit jakegriffin.net and like him on Facebook.com.
Credit: Chris Knight