By Phil Whipple
RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo by: Manvel Motorsports
CARROLLTON, Texas — While the worldwide virus pandemic may have delayed the start of racing by a few months, several asphalt oval drivers were able to stay focused during that down time. Most spent lots of time in the shop, making sure they were ready when the green flag did eventually wave.
For 24-year-old Jake Wright, a delayed start to the 2020 season only meant he had longer to wait before pulling into Victory Lane. Wright kicked things off in style with a Pro Truck feature win last Saturday at Houston Motorsports Park as the Texas Short Track Racing Series (TSTRS) finally got a green light.
“I think my early success this year all goes back to Central Texas Speedway right before it shut down,” Wright said as he reflected on his racing roots. “We were always good friends with Jake Kruger of Kruger Motorsports fame. He does all of our chassis setups and has been helping us since Day 1.
“He was with us when I got my very first win at CTS and has been with us ever since. It's been a huge team effort this year, with Jake, my Dad and everybody pitching in to do their part. It's a combination of good people, hard work and team chemistry that has put us in this position, and it's a great feeling.”
Wright has a solid background in asphalt racing, with experience at several tracks in his resume. Last Saturday's win was the fourth feature victory of his career, with two last year at HMP and one at CTS before it closed down for good. The young driver has paid his dues since he started racing in 2001.
“My Dad got his start in Quarter Midgets, and when he got out, my brother started racing,” Wright explained. “As I was growing up, I was always watching my brother in Quarter Midgets. I got my start in those cars when I was five years old. I moved on to the Bandolero cars and did pretty well there.
“In 2008, I moved up into the Legacy cars. We didn't have a whole lot of success there, but it was still a good stepping stone. When we had our fill with small cars, we moved up into the Pro Truck class. I know we're racing at a different level now, and I appreciate the opportunity more than I can express.”
As for his home track of Houston Motorsports Park, Wright says he and all those who race there are blessed to have it run by someone with such a deep passion for racing.
“I can't thank Gina and the entire Knowles family enough for what they've been doing for Houston Motorsports Park,” Wright said with sincerity in his voice. “She brought in Advance Auto Parts, the whole deal is over the top. It looks like a completely different track, I'm just honored to be a part of it.”
When Wright and his rivals take the green in Pro Truck, HMP fans pay attention. The class is very racy.
“It's not going to be easy to stay on top in this division this year,” Wright explained. “All I can do is run as hard as I can every weekend, stay focused on our own truck and make sure everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing. If we do, there should be no problems. Consistency to me is everything.”
Having good equipment underneath them is key for any driver as he or she rolls out onto the speedway. Wright has a good piece to pilot in Pro Truck, one class where a good ride is critical if you like to win.
“My engine builder is Robbie White, and he is fantastic,” Wright said. “He does a lot of work for east coast racers and has a great reputation. We have a BMF chassis that was built by John Heil, who does excellent work on every detail. It's a great engine and chassis combination that keeps us competitive.”
No individual racer can be successful without some level of support behind the scenes. For Wright, there are a few key talented and devoted people working hard to keep his program moving forward.
“I really need to thank Travis Adams, Joey Cherry, Miss Ellie, the entire Knowles family and Advance Auto Parts,” Wright said. “They all do so much for my racing program and I sure do appreciate that.”
Along with those dedicated folks working in the shop and at the speedway on race day, Wright is also blessed with a nice group of marketing partners who make his program more competitive on race day.
“I am fortunate to have the support of the Siddons-Martin Emergency Group, the Mohr Law Firm and Low Voltage Solutions,” Wright added. “We couldn't do this without them, and I'm honored to carry their logos on our truck this year. I'll work hard to represent them in a professional manner all year.”
With the heat of summer now upon us and lots of intense racing ahead, Wright has a clear goal in mind.
“I really want to earn the points championship this year at HMP,” he said. “It will take a big effort, but if we can pull that off, I'd like to go down to Pensacola and compete in the Truck portion of the famed Snowball Derby. We've got a ton of work to do and races to complete first, so that's my focus for now.”