ROSSBURG, Ohio – 17-year-old Jake Griffin hopes to make the most of his one-race deal with Red Horse Racing in Wednesday night’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby.
Griffin, the Quincy, Illinois native phone rang late last week informing the teenager that his dream of getting a second chance to compete at Eldora Speedway was coming true.
The avid and successful dirt racer from the Midwest is teaming with one of the most respected organizations in the garage and Griffin is hopeful that with his and his team’s combined experience they can contend in the 11th race of the season.
“This is really a dream come true,” said Griffin. “I’ve been very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but it’s not every day that you get the call to come drive for Red Horse. They are just a strong and respected organization in the garage. It’s a huge blessing to me to get the opportunity to race for them.”
Knowing the likelihood of Eldora being a one-race deal with the Tom DeLoach-owned team, Griffin wants to showcase his talent not only with his experience on the track, but with his communication and feedback with crew chief Scott Zipadelli.
“We’re really glad to have Jake on board,” said Red Horse Racing team owner Tom DeLoach. “He’s definitely got some experience on dirt, so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do at Eldora (Speedway).”
“It’s not going to be easy to just come to Eldora, get out on the track and go fast,” added Griffin. “Although, that’s exactly what we want to do. I was able to spend some time in the shop last week in Mooresville. I was able to spend some time with them and I got really comfortable right away. That’s important to me. They made me feel very welcomed and that gives me motivation to go out there and do my job for practice and the race Wednesday.”
Unlike last year where Griffin quickly earned attention by putting an underfunded truck in the top-10 during practice at Eldora, vastly changing track conditions proved to work against Griffin and despite a gallant effort, he didn’t make the main feature.
Fast forward 12 months later, Griffin doesn’t have to worry about making the main feature, he’s locked in.
Now, Griffin can just focus on the race.
“There’s going to be a lot of key players for this race,” added Griffin. “Not only are Christopher Bell and Bobby Pierce back, but Kyle Larson and Ken Schrader will be in the race too. I’m hoping we can put our No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra in the thick of the battle with those guys. I know we can do it, we just need to be patient and keep the fenders on the truck and let everything fall into place.”
Supporting Griffin in Wednesday night’s mid-week race is Backlot Auctions. The company has been a long-time supporter of Griffin and he’s hoping that he can pay them back with a gratifying finish.
“There’s a lot of people who made this possible and I won’t forget it,” added Griffin. “I really appreciate Backlot Auctions stepping up to the plate and helping make this opportunity possible. I don’t want to let them or Red Horse down. I just need to stay focused and let the race track come to us.”
In addition to running Wednesday’s Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora Speedway, Griffin will make his ARCA Racing Series debut at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Aug. 21 driving for the potent Venturini Motorsports team. He’ll also compete in the Sept. 4 General Tire Grabber 100 at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. Both 1.0-mile tracks are dirt.
Griffin participated in both practice sessions at Eldora Speedway Tuesday night and was eighth and 11th quickest overall.
Follow Jake Griffin on Twitter @JakeGriffin08 or visit jakegriffin.net and like him on Facebook.com.
The Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby (150 laps / 75 miles) is the 10th of 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on the 2016 schedule. Qualifying is set for race day, Wed., July 20 beginning at 5:15 p.m. with heat races to follow. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 9:00 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All time Eastern.
Credit: Chris Knight