MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – – Two days of inclement weather at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway couldn’t stop Jesse Little from an impressive debut in the No. 29 NASCAR Technical Institute / UTI Toyota Camry in this past Sunday’s Mobile 150.
With two days of consistent rain, NASCAR and track officials were forced to adjust the schedule for Sunday, which included a minimal practice session, qualifying and then the race a short time later.
Despite the chaotic schedule, Little was confident in his car’s capabilities even with a 150-lap race on deck.
From the moment the green flag dropped, Little was on the move, despite an early race caution, but as the laps ticked away towards the Lap 75 halfway break, so did Little’s progress on track.
Little’s progressive march forward netted him eight position by Lap 43 when he moved into sixth. In conservative mode, Little’s progress would be stalled as considerable tire wear worked against the NASCAR Next driver – dropping to him outside the top-10, before marching back to 11th when the caution flag waved for the halfway break.
Under the mandatory yellow, Little received four tires, fuel and a minor chassis adjustment to combat the handling in his No. 29 NASCAR Technical Institute /UTI Toyota Camry.
Restarting the same place he entered pit road, Little made sure he didn’t make the same mistake again, saving his tires for when it counted most.
Methodically during the second half of the race, Little patiently began grabbing one position at a time. Through a series of cautions would try to derail the driver’s gains, by Lap 135, Little had hustled to eighth
A late race caution would bunch up the field up the field for a green-white-checkered finish and allow the opportunity for the No. 29NASCAR Technical Institute / UTI Toyota Camry to make its biggest progression yet by bolting to third on the green-white-checkered restart, carrying the Rette Jones Racing team to their highest finish of 2016.
“We had a really good car,” said Little. “I can’t thank the team for their hard work this weekend. The weather was definitely challenging, but we made it through it. Matt (Noyce, crew chief) did a good job adjusting the car from the halfway break and we were able to hustle when we needed too most.”
For part-owner and crew chief Mark Rette, he was impressed with Little’s debut.
“Jesse did a phenomenal job start to finish,” offered Rette. “He learned a lot about the car during the first run and when the second half of the race came he knew exactly what to do. We needed a couple more laps and who knows what could have happened. Overall, it was a successful weekend for our team and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Catch a tape delayed version of the Mobile 150 presented by the Mobile Sports Authority TONIGHT (March 17) live on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
While the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns on Saturday, Mar. 26 at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway, Little returns for his second race of the season from Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Apr. 16 for the PittLite 125.
Driver: Jesse Little on Twitter @JesseLittle97
Team: Rette Jones Racing on Twitter @RetteJones30.
PHOTO CAPTION: Jesse Little, driver of the No. 29 NASCAR Technical Institute / UTI Toyota Camry for Rette Jones Racing (RJR) in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE).
Credit: Chris Knight