Without hesitation, one of the popular storylines of the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season has been the success of JJL Motorsports and driver Jesse Little.
In two races – at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway respectively, Little has put his No. 97 JJL Motorsports Ford in contention for victory.
While situations prevented the multiple NASCAR K&N Pro Series winner from accomplishing his greatest motorsports accomplishment yet, he’ll have another opportunity in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
“We are so blessed to have been able to have some stellar performances this season,” said Little.
“There’s plenty left to be accomplished though. I’m excited to head to Charlotte this week and have an opportunity to race in my own backyard.”
Even though Little has yet to compete in a Truck Series race at the historic 1.5-mile speedway, he does have plenty of laps stemming from a 2016 effort. While turning competitive laps, the team was snakebitten after inclement weather forced the cancelation of qualifying, leaving them on the sidelines.
While the circumstances were unfortunate, Little believes his on-track experience will help tremendously ahead of his third planned start of 2018.
“We had a really good truck in 2016, but you can’t control weather,” recalled Little. “That’s just the nature of the beast. Charlotte is not your traditional mile-and-a-half track, so any track time is valuable towards the impact of the race.
“Matt (Noyce) and our JJL Motorsports team has worked hard to turn this truck around from Dover to get it ready for Charlotte this week. I feel pretty confident that we can go to the track this week and continue to showcase our speed and ability.
“The recent support from the family of Ford Performance has the opportunity to open some huge doors for us and hopefully could be that final piece that maybe takes us to Victory Lane on Friday night.”
While JJL Motorsports is still actively searching for sponsorship for its truck program, partnerships have materialized for two upcoming races at Iowa Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park – adding two additional races to the team’s schedule lineup.
“Even though we don’t have any sponsorship help for this weekend at Charlotte, we’ve been able to secure some funding for Iowa and Gateway and that’s huge for our little team,” the Sherrills Ford, N.C.-native said.
“We’ll host longtime friends and sponsors Jim Davis and Steve Biddle at Charlotte this week. They’ve been instrumental in my success and to have them alongside for our go-around at Charlotte means a lot. Our Gateway sponsor has given us a lot of cool items to give away to the race fans and we’re excited about that. We plan to announce everything next week.”
Recently completing classes at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Little will spend time this summer working at the JJL shop – while also promoting the team’s driver development program and continue their partnership pursuit.
“We’ll have a break from Charlotte to Iowa and that will be great – but we have some open inventory that we’d really like to sell that will allow us to race more in 2018,” he added.
Hopefully, if we keep running like we’ve been running, the phone will ring a little more.
“Our No. 97 seat isn’t cemented for just me. I’ve had a lot of help to get where I’m at – and we’re trying to give back to those who want a future in NASCAR. Hopefully, we’ll get latched on to a driver or two which I hope will have the ability to make our team stronger.”
Looking ahead, JJL Motorsports plans to compete in the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on June 16, while also having open inventory for funded drivers aboard their Ford F-150s during the summer and fall stretch.
In 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Little has earned three top-10 finishes at Iowa Speedway (2017), Atlanta Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway (2018) respectively.
The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (200 laps | 200 miles) is the sixth of 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races on the 2018 schedule. Practice begins on Fri., May 18 from 9:05 a.m. – 9:55 a.m. A final practice session is set for 10:35 a.m. – 11:25 a.m. Qualifying is set for later in the day beginning at 4:40 p.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 8:30 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Eastern).
JJL Motorsports PR/Photo Matt Sullivan/Getty Images