Monday, November 12, 2018

INTERVIEW: Fan favorite Jordan Anderson reflects on his first year as owner and driver

Anderson's team loads up at ISM
PHOTO: Brock Beard
After last Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at the ISM Raceway, I caught up with a number of drivers for the smaller teams in the Camping World Truck Series. In these closing days of the season, a number of them were working on taking the next step in their careers.

Jesse Iwuji, swapped into Mike Mittler’s #63 Chevrolet at the last minute, completed his second series start and his first on an oval. To prepare, the military veteran and K&N Pro Series West competitor made use of his simulator between one and two hours a day. Iwuji ran 27th, just two spots shy of his series debut at Mosport.

Stefan Parsons, whose #15 was prepared by Mike Harmon, Beaver Motorsports, and Premium Motorsports, earned his approval to run mile-and-a-half tracks. Parsons’ father, racer-turned-broadcaster Phil Parsons, was there to congratulate his son on a good 20th-place run despite running an underpowered Chevy SB2 engine, 30-lap scuffed tires, and fighting a tight condition.

Canadian driver Jason White, who piloted the Reaume Brothers’ #33, ran the ISM event with the goal of obtaining approval to run Daytona next year, whether in ARCA or the Truck Series. His venture south of the border was helped by Rob Zimmer of the Zimmer Group, who has backed his effort for more than a decade, and DJK Racing, his team in the Pinty’s Series., Powder Ventures Excavating, and Gnarly Jerky also had logos on his red truck, which ran 26th.

“The competition is so strong,” said White when asked about the recent influx of Canadian drivers into NASCAR’s top three series, “I would say two-thirds to three-quarters of the drivers in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series can come down and race in these series as well.”

Not far from White’s stall was the hauler belonging to owner-driver Jordan Anderson. Just last year, Anderson was "start-and-parking" RSS Racing's #93 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series, nearly claiming the LASTCAR title for the division. He's now just days away from completing his first full season as both owner and driver in the Truck Series. I caught up with Anderson as he attempted to fix the sliding door on the back of his trailer.

“We had a long night,” said Anderson of his 23rd-place finish. “This is that point of the season where us as a small team, we run things maybe a little longer than we should, we try and mileage it out. Unfortunately, at Texas last week, a part broke, it bit us and we blew our motor. Tonight, we had the track bar mount kept coming loose on us. The serrated edges are worn out and it kept falling down. We’d start out pretty good and the left side would fall all the way down and tighten the heck out of us. It was one of those nights, we soldiered through. Everybody dug in and made the best of the night. The truck’s in one piece – we’re gonna take that truck and motor to Miami next week.”

Anderson also reflected on the progress his team has made in its first year.

“So, it’s been a heated battle between us, the 45 (Niece Motorsports) and the 49 (Premium Motorsports) for the Top 20 in Owner’s Points, and I think we finished 20th, 21st, and 22nd tonight, so we’re all right there. But I’ve gotta keep things in perspective because our goals this year are a couple of them: to run every race, to finish Top 20 in driver points, and to get one Top 10. And we got two Top 10s this season, we’re 15th in driver points, and we’re one race away from running our first full season as a team. The driver in me wants more and wants to do better, but to keep things in perspective, it’s been an amazing year for us. The thing is next week will be our first year as a team in the books and it’s a pretty humbling and exciting feeling for us.”

“I’m a racer, don’t come from a family that’s in racing. My first year as an owner, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes to learn from, and hopefully we can keep everything together. Cool thing with our team – everybody’s gonna work through the winter. You know, most small teams everybody gets laid off in the winter, but not us, everybody’s gonna keep working over the winter. Hopefully we’ll use the next two, three months to get better and improve our trucks. We got a good group of guys and we win together and we lose together. So we’re gonna make the most of it and hopefully next year will be better.

Already loaded on the upper deck of his hauler was the black “No. 007” chassis that Anderson debuted last week in Texas.

“It’s up there. It’s retired for the year. We ran it at Texas, a new truck for us, a new scheme, I love the truck. We fought some gremlins at Texas with it and with us being on the road, we’re not able to set it up right, not being able to get back to the shop. We kind of, being equal, me and Eagle, my crew chief, kind of made an executive decision to not racer her anymore this year and we’ll get her tuned up and brought back at Atlanta for the second race of the season, and hopefully fire off strong.”

Anderson also discussed the addition of Commercial Property Services as a sponsor for his #3 Chevrolet.

“Yeah, their first race with us. Ken’s our ally, Ken Brogan, is actually from Washington state, and the Knight Fire (Protection) below, they’re from Washington state, so they’re on our truck. It’s a really cool connection. Ken actually came to Daytona with us earlier this year when we got that first Top 10 and he hung out with us, and I think I got the racing bug hooked, and he’s like ‘Hey man, I want to help you into growing your team, how can I help?’ And I said, ‘Well, we’ve got Bristol and we’ve got Martinsville and we’ve got Vegas and Phoenix are a couple races we don’t have partnerships for. We’re always trying to take on sponsorship to grow this team.’ So he’s like ‘All right, cool, well count me in – I want to join you guys and help you grow this team.’”

“He’s a racer himself and then his son used to race back in the day and it’s cool to have him and Randy Knight and Knight Fire and John Bommarito and these guys. I’ve got John’s son Blake and all his college squad here hanging with us tonight. So, it’s so many people involved in this team existing and growing. And we’ll take nights like this and learn from them and we’ll just keep building for the future. So, you know me, man, I’m a racer. Nights like this I always want more – it cuts a little deep when I think we could’ve finished a little better, but the team owner side is like ‘hey, we’ve got the truck in one piece, no damage, this is really a win for us tonight as a small team here.’ We’ll take it and build on it.”

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