LINCOLN, Ala. – A 20th place result for Jake Drew doesn’t quite match the performance of the rookie in his first career start at a superspeedway.
After making it to the second round of qualifying and matching his career best start of 10th, Drew marched up as high as third in Saturday’s Love’s RV Stop 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. The 2022 ARCA Menards Series West Champion acted like anything but a rookie as he methodically drove his way to the front multiple times.
“I don’t think (the racing is the same on television),” he laughed. “I mean, other than the wrecks at the end, but, you know, HRE brought me an incredibly strong truck. We were watching footage from recent years, and I was worried about how much the trucks moved around in the draft and in the wake. I noticed very early on that we had a very secure truck that was underneath me. It wasn’t moving around much.
“I just had to learn my timing of drafting and start to feel comfortable, calm and ride out the day, just waiting to see what was going to happen at the end.”
During a restart with less than 20 laps to go, Chase Purdy had an electrical problem that shut his truck off. That backed up the inside line, where Drew sat third. It unfortunately pushed him outside the top 15. After another caution and restart with under five laps remaining, he only saw smoke as he was stuck in the eye of the storm of Talladega Superspeedway’s iconic “Big One” when 11 trucks were caught up on the front stretch, including a five-minute red flag for NASCAR officials to clean up the track.
“I didn’t see much,” Drew reflected. “I saw, I think, (Matt Crafton) start going down low, and then by that, whoever was up ahead, was already turned sideways and just got stacked up from there. I was pretty happy to be in the middle and kind of pinballing and not getting turned around. I think I had two guys on my door, so I wasn’t getting turned towards the fence or nothing. I enjoyed that I was able to keep rolling straight.
“It’s unfortunate we got damage, and it hurt our day, but you know, happy to make it through and be here talking to you.”
The experience was invaluable for the California native as he continues to lock his seat with Hattori Racing Enterprises. While he has not yet signed with anyone yet for the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, he continues to turn eyes and ears with his performance and his demeanor.
“I think it means a lot to me,” said Drew of his team’s confidence in his driving. “I’m hoping that I’m going to come back next year and at least fight for the playoffs or maybe fight for a championship. I’m still learning a lot each race, but I owe a lot of it to this team. Appreciate all (the team’s) hard work and appreciate that they gave me the opportunity to show what I can do and prove to these guys that I can.”
Drew did confirm that he will drive the No. 61 Toyota Tundra at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Phoenix Raceway to close out the year. It will be his first time returning to the Arizona desert since his ARCA championship last year.