Race Highlights - 2013
Southern National Motorsports Park, Kenly, NC
March 9, 2013
Garrett opens up his 2013 season with the UARA-Stars as a competitor and contender for rookie-of-the-year. "I'm excited about 2013 and the opportunities the UARA-Stars offers. I'm going to be racing against some of the best drivers in the country. I want to be competitive, learn all I can, gain the respect of the other drivers, and most of all, go door-to-door with them and have a shot to win! I knew the bar had been raised as soon as we pulled into the Southern National track. On my left was the 2012 UARA Champion and on my right was the Turner Scott Motorsports entry. Our team is ready to race," commented Garrett.
After qualifiying, Garrett was set to roll off 9th. "Before the race, me and Greg (Marlowe) talked about the race pace for a 150 lapper, and what I should do. Our plan was to find us a spot, log some laps and keep the leader in sight so we could be around at the end. It was important that I made all the laps." Garrett did just that. With a clean start, Garrett had worked his way up to 7th place by the first caution around lap 104, about a half lap back from the leader. However, on the restart, the driver in front of Garrett missed a gear. Garrett was quick to recognize the misstep and was able to prevent a pile-up in the middle of the pack. After losing momentum on the inside lane, Garrett fell back to 11th and was able to work his way back to a 10th place finish, battling a fellow rookie the last two laps of the race side-by-side. Garrett's next race is in Opp, Alabama at South Alabama Speedway in a Pro Late Model on March 16th. His next UARA race is March 23rd at the famed Hickory Motorspeedway.
South Alabama Speedway, Opp, AL
March 16, 2013
After a long night of tech and a dispute in scoring, the Garrett Motorsports Pro Late Model #88 officially finished 9th due to the #43 failing tech. However, the GMS driver will be paid for 7th place as the #99 did not adhere to an on track penalty for jumping the start in the closing laps of the race. "To salvage a top 10 after being taken out is something, I guess. After falling back, we were up to 7th running with the leaders. Now that was fun! Being able to pass Augie Grill under green, side-by-side, was really fun! He's won some of the biggest events in late models and is still winning. I'm sure I will remind him of my pass next time I see him!" commented Garrett. Garrett's next race is next Saturday, March 23, at Hickory Motor Speedway with the UARA-Stars.
Gresham Motorsports Park, Jefferson, GA
March 30, 2013
At Gresham, Garrett's pro late model #88 had ups and downs during practice. After a long day of adjustments, the team made final changes but there was no time to test it out since practice was over. Garrett went out for qualifying laps and ran faster than he had all day! He earned the 3rd spot in qualifying out of 18 cars! Garrett was racing against some of the best. Once the race was underway Garrett was running up front. With a constant watch on the coming rain, there was the threat of the race being called early. The decision was made to go ahead and take a full set of tires at the halfway/scheduled pit stop. The leader, as well as a few others, waited to take new tires. After the break, Garrett drove up front and even got his nose under the leader, Chase Elliott. It was looking pretty promising... until the tires started to fade. Garrett worked hard to keep his car in the front of the pack. Garrett's #88 finished 6th.
His next race is at the famed Rockingham Speedway on April 13th in Rockingham, NC.
Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory, NC
March 30, 2013
Wow! What a night of racing!! Garrett's late model stock #88 qualified 5th out of 26 cars! He finished 6th. With 150 laps to go, Garrett rode with the pack just trying to make some laps and save tires. His car was fast! The outside line ended up being super fast and got a run. Being on the inside, he was now back in 10th or 11th. He started coming to the front picking them off one-by-one. After passing several on the outside, he made it up to 2nd when the car tightened up. A few got by him as he figured out how to handle the car. After all that, a 6th place finish was great but the crew and Garrett wanted more! "This is the most fun I've ever had in a race car," exclaimed Garrett under a caution.
Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham, NC
April 13, 2013
Garrett makes his debut at his first track greater in length than 1/2 mile at the famed Rockingham Speedway, which is a 1 mile oval. With speeds averaging over 140 MPH and corner entry speeds significantly higher, 13 year-old Garrett Jones found himself in a situation with no tolerance for error and minimal opportunity to hone his driving skills on the oval known as The Rock. "You know most tracks I am racing at this year with the UARA-Stars are new to me. So, each time I roll in to a track there is always a level of nervousness - not of wrecking or the speeds, but really the idea of not performing good. Each place is different. I want to win! I want the guys I race against to have the confidence to race me hard and know I can handle it. Most of all I want to be competitive every race and make all the laps. But I can't lie! Friday morning when we arrived at The Rock, there was some intimidation. This place was huge! When I was little and racing quarter midgets you watch the races on TV and dream about making laps at a place like this. I still watch the races and hope I get a shot to race on tracks like this! Yeah, I was nervous about running good and proving to myself I could do it. But mainly I wanted to get in my car and get on the track. I have a good friend who has raced The Rock a bunch that gave me a few pointers. Just how rough is the asphalt going into turn 1? Can I slide below it or above it? What will the car do if I have to run through it? What will the swells in 3 and 4 do to my car? This is what I was thinking," commented Garrett. Garrett continually improved from being about 2 seconds off the pace in rookie practice to being 21st out of 24 in the first general practice to 12th in the final practice about 1/2 second behind veteran Clay Rogers. Garrett fought a tight condition all day Friday, especially in turns 1 & 2, running right through that rough pavement! Garrett struggled to provide the level of feedback his crew chief Roger Johnson was accustomed to receiving from his rookie driver. While final practice had been completed, the work did not stop. Roger and Garrett kept going over what was needed to improve. There was discussion of whether to leave the car as-is and be satisfied with a middle-of-the-pack performance or to "swing for the fences" as Roger put it. The stakes were high for the rookie driver. Leaving the car as-is would be the safe bet. Making significant changes could be disastrous. If Garrett wrecked in qualifying it would ruin his hopes of competing in Saturday's race. After a night with little sleep, Roger began going over his ideas with Garrett at 5:45 AM! According to both Garrett and Roger, not making changes to the car was never a serious consideration. "I felt like I had to ask given the tremendous difference in this track and what Garrett had raced on before, " stated Roger. "Of course Garrett's answer was to change the car. This is one reason I like working with him. It's like a clean slate. No bad habits and no fear. A great combination for a chassis builder, crew chief and driver coach. Of course we never push Garrett past the limits which we believe he is capable-we stretch them for sure, but not to the point to get him in trouble. I didn't start working with him yesterday! Training a young driver is a process and you move at a pace that is tailored to each driver. Garrett listens and is quick to adapt to new situations. So the decision to make significant adjustments was fairly easy." Garrett added, "I know if I can give Roger the right information, he will make the car better. I just believe that." Without fully knowing what to expect, Garrett left pit road on his qualifying run all-in as if he had done this a thousand times. With complete confidence he drove his car below the rough patches of asphalt in turn one, hugging the yellow line on the apron, barely lifting for only a split second, then down the back stretch known as Thunder Alley and similarly through turns three and four across the start finish line with a lap of 25.381, over 7/10ths of second faster than his best lap in practice. "I drove the line me and Roger talked about over and over. I had no doubts that car would do it," stated Garrett. Their efforts provided a solid 8th place starting spot at The Rock right behind and beside NASCAR Camping World Truck regulars, Ty Dillon and Darrell Wallace, Jr. However, communication problems plagued the young driver from the command to start engines through the end of the race. Garrett commented, "I could not hear my spotter consistently. I kept thinking about the advice Dale Jr. always gives me - make all the laps. I drove conservatively and gave too much room to my competitors at points in the race. I am disappointed in my 15th place finish. I had a better car than that. But, I made all the laps and proved to myself I can definitely do this!" Garrett and Garrett Motorsports would like to thank its sponsors for this race: Burroughs Companies, Southern States Utility, and Nelson Specialties. They would also like to thank Roger, Kim, Greg, Aaron and all the guys at Performancenter Racing Warehouse in Statesville, NC for preparing the #88 Chevy.
5Flags Speedway, Pensacola, FL
April 26, 2013
After being fastest in both practices at 5Flags on Friday, Garrett's #88 team was ready to go! Garrett qualified 3rd for the first feature race. He went on to finish 5th in that race. But with another race coming up, Garrett was really wanting a better finish! He started in 7th position for his 2nd pro late model race of the night. Garrett was able to make it up through the pack and he had his sights on the leader. Garrett was coming around for the lead with the white flag waving! It was a crazy close finish. Garrett got 2nd place by a fraction of a second! What a race. Garrett and his #88 GMS team are ready for the next race at 5Flags on May 10!
5Flags Speedway, Pensacola, FL
May 10, 2013
After making his fastest lap ever at 5 Flags Speedway, Garrett grabs the pole with a lap of 16.72. Then, he watches closely as his competitors make their qualifying attempts. Garrett held the spot until Justin South, in the black #43, laid down a lap of 16.60 setting a new track record! "After practice I knew we had us a fast car. I'm getting more and more comfortable at the track and I thought I had a shot at the pole. I knew it would be tough because the track has picked up speed after it was ground during the off season. As it cooled off, it was the perfect opportunity for Justin to set a new mark." Garrett noted.
The Nelson Specialties #88 Pro Late Model started from second poistion on the outside on the front row. As the green dropped, Garrett found himself battling door-to-door with the 3rd place car while South put some distance on the field. "I knew I had to clear the 22 car in a hurry to have a shot for a win in this 20 lap dash. I raced hard for several laps side-by-side before I could get away from him. My spotter Elliott Davis reminded me to hit my marks and drive my race. As I closed in on the leader, I was running out of laps. I just couldn't get it done; I came up 2nd again!" said Garrett.
The new format at Pensacola inverts all cars on the lead lap after the first race. This calls Garrett to line up deep in the field for the last 30 lap feature of the night. From the start of the race, Garrett wasted no time in taking the red and white #88 to the front, passing cars on the inside or outside, wherever he caught them. Within the first 10 laps, Garrett found himself solidly in the top 5 with a car that seemed to have the speed and handling to take him to the point. Within a few laps, Garrett found himself, once again, in 2nd place! With 7 laps to go, starting from 2nd position, the race was restarted for the last time. Garrett found himself on the outside of the #22 again in this race, racing hard. Realizing the leader was getting away while he was hung on the outside, Garrett gave the spot away momentarily. Coming out of turn 4, Garrett took the spot back and completed the pass going down the back straight. With the fans on their feet cheering him on, Garrett chased the leader. When the checkers fell, Garrett was runner-up. With three 2nd place finishes in the first 4 races of the series, Garrett and his #88 Chevorolet SS became the point leader. Garrett stated, "To lead points at 5 Flags is an accomplishment. I am proud of that! I've got a great team and I feel like I'm learning a lot. I appreciate all of that, but I am ready to win! To be that close three times in a row is really tough... you want to close the deal, get the paycheck and your picture taken with the trophy. You never know when you might get that chance again."
Mobile International Speedway, Mobile, AL
May 11, 2013
Two races at the Mobile International Speedway!
Garrett started 5th and finished 5th in the first Pro Late Model race of the night.
"We've never been here before but it is already becoming one of my favorite tracks. I fought a tight racecar from the drop of the green flag. I just couldn't get the car to rotate from the center off. I knew once we got back to the pits we could dial it in for the second race." Garrett commented.
Garrett started 7th and finished 2nd in the second race of the night. Garrett and his #88 Pro Late Model have worked hard for a win. After a pile up during the first lap, Garrett managed to miss the wreck. Once the green flag waved again, Garrett started to work his way up. Garrett took over the lead position and lead many laps until a caution came out. After the caution, Garrett was back to 2nd position. Coming to the checkered flag, Garrett was on the inside of the leader and making fast progress! However, the checkered flag waved before he could take first. The GMS team walks away with a second place finish!
Lonesome Pine Raceway, Coeburn, VA
June 1, 2013
A UARA-Stars 150 lap race at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, VA. The #88 Chevy posted its first DNF of the season.
The night seemed to be on the right track after qualifying into the 5th place spot. Once the race started, Garrett had trouble keeping the #88 in the front of the pack. After battling a tight but drivable car, Garrett Jones found hiself hoping for a caution that never came, one lap down. Within a few more laps, the leaders had put the #88 another lap down. Knowing something was wrong but not knowing what, Garrett continued to make a few more laps before the right front let go, effectively ending the night for the Garrett Motorsports team. "I think I picked up something under the first caution. After settling into about 10th place on the initial start, I found my braking points and was headed forward. The car never wanted to turn after that, getting worse every lap. I'm real disappointed. My whole team is. That race is history. We will learn what we can and go race the next race. I know I can do this and I've got a great team. I've been racing a long time. This happens. I don't have to like it but that's the way racing is," commented Garrett.
5 Flags Speedway, Pensacola, FL
June 7, 2013
With one more double-header and a 100 lapper left on the schedule, Garrett extends his points lead, finishing 3rd and 4th in the double features last night in front of race fans that, according to the track's announcer, "are quickly helping 13 year-old Garrett Jones to become one of the most popular drivers to circle the famed oval" in Pensacola known as America's favorite home track. "I have raced for points most of my life and won championships. I know how to do that without a doubt. I'm telling you though I didn't points race last night! I drove as hard as I could for every lap. Didn't leave anything on the table. Nothing. At one point coming out of 4, i was sideways looking at pit road, but I held on to it. I came up short again last night. We will be back and try again. These fans are some of the greatest. It's a lot of fun to me to meet every one of them. Can't wait to get back here," comments Garrett.
Hickory Motorspeedway, Hickory, NC
June 22, 2013
"We had a great night here at Hickory. This is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. This place has a lot of history and it's just fun to run side-by-side here. I'm proud of the finish, it's the best one I've had in UARA. But, you can't keep from feeling like you have left one on the table! This is a competitive series and when you run as good as we did tonight, you think about what you could have done to close the deal. We needed a good finish and we got us one. I have a great team and have to thank everyone at Performancenter Racing Warehouse in Statesville, Nelson Specialties in Mooresville, and Southern States Unitility in Jackson, Mississippi. I couldn't do it without them. And, it was great to have Nelson Crozier of Nelson Specialties in the pits with us tonight!" commented Garrett.
Anderson Motorspeedway, Anderson, SC
June 14, 2013
After running 2nd or 3rd for 120 laps saving his equipment for the end of the race, Garrett finished one lap down. Garrett commented, "This is 2 races in a row that we have picked up something on the track. This week was worse because I was running about 3/4 throttle saving the tires. Racing is all about results and I haven't been delivering. My Dad has taught me since the first time I put on a helmet that we don't make excuses. We don't whine when things don't go our way. What we do is buckle down and work harder. That's what I'm gonna do. There's not much more I can say. I will be racing in Hickory next week."
Tri-County Motor Speedway, Hudson, NC
July 12, 2013
On Friday night Garrett Jones qualified his #88 Chevrolet SS on the outside pole for Friday night's UARA-Stars 150 at Tri-County Motor Speedway! After having several practice runs trying to figure out varying tires, the #88 bolted on its set of stickers that were to be used in qualifying and the race. "I knew when I drove it off into 1 on my first qualifying lap, that we were going to have a tough night. This set of tires did the same thing as the 2nd set we used in practice - completely changed the handling of the car. I was able to compensate for this for the 2 laps we made in qualifying. I knew that the tires wouldn't hold up to that in the race for very long though. I've got the best crew in the pits and I know we will figure out how to solve this problem. I've got to get better at driving the car when things don't go exactly like we planned. We came out of here with a 10th place finish, but I am really disappointed. We had a car in practice that would never give up... Really thought I had a shot at a win at Tri-County. We will work harder and be ready for Caraway." With a 10th place finish, Garrett moves up to 6th place in the UARA points.
Montgomery Motor Speedway, Montgomery, AL
July 13, 2013
After leaving Tri-County Motor Speedway around 11:00 PM Friday night, Garrett and his crew traveled to Montgomery, Alabama for a 100 lap Pro Late Model Race. "They tell me we rolled into Montgomery around 6:00 AM, but I honestly couldn't tell you, laughed Garrett! I was out like a light! My Dad and Aaron, who works on my Late Model Stock, and Jared Fryar, who used to work with us, loaded up in our hauler and headed south. We all had a great time. We met up with my Pro Late Crew, David Ray and Elliott Davis and started dialing in the car. Augie Grill had set up my car and I was having a really hard time getting the car to turn. Frankie Grill came over and we talk about how to get into the corner here. That made all the difference in the world. After practice we made a few more adjustments and the car was super fast. I qualified 5th and finished 2nd! Even out run Augie - I will have to remind him of that often 'cause he doesn't cut me any slack!! Montgomery is one of my favorite tracks now! To have the experience of Augie and Frankie Grill and a crew like David Ray and Elliott Davis really gives me a lot of confidence. To have the guys that help me on my other car come down and assist is really cool too. On the way home Sunday, everybody was tired, but we all agreed if there was another race within driving distance, we would have been there! We are all just racers!" Garrett Jones is headed to Caraway Speedway in NC this week to test for the next UARA race there on the 27th. From there he will leave for Georgia to practice and race at Gresham Motorsports Park for the Jegs Pro Late Model 100.
Gresham Motorsports Park, Montgomery, GA
July 20, 2013
After running 3rd behind Justin South and Hunter Robbins from the drop of the green, Garrett spins out on his own coming off of turn 4, making contact with the inside wall just before the start/finish line on lap 38, ending his night early. "I just lost it coming off 4. It got out from under me and I couldn't catch it. I felt like the low line I was running wasn't working and Justin and Hunter were getting away. I moved up the track to try to run Hunter's line and thought I started to hold my own. I got in turn 3 a little hot , and knew I was in trouble. Real disappointed. The guys worked real hard to even get me in the race. In practice we lost a rear and and my guys found the parts and fixed it in time to qualify. I gotta thank Hunter Robbins, RS Senter and Russell Fleeman for loaning us the parts to get us in the race. Thank you David Ray, Elliott Davis, Aaron Volf, Augie Grill, Meredith and Sarah! I also want to thank Scott Gertsch, Paul Gertsch, and Zach Donatti for coming out the the track!" Garrett's next race is the UARA-Stars 150 at Caraway Speedway in NC next Saturday, July 27th.
Caraway Speedway, Asheboro, NC
July 27, 2013
Garrett finishes 10th at Caraway Speedway. "About all I can say is I hung on to finish 10th today. This track was tough for me. I know I had as good a car as most of the field because I could match the top speeds on some laps. I searched the whole day for the consistency I needed. I've got to thank my crew Greg Marlowe, Aaron Volf and Elliott Davis. Those guys worked really hard and I didn't deliver. Gonna keep digging," commented Garrett.
Nashville Fairgrounds, Nashville, TN
August 4, 2013
After qualifying 12th of 21 at his first appearance at the Nashville fairgrounds, Garrett struggled finding the line around the 5/8 mile track, eventually going a lap down on lap 51 in 7th position. On lap 53 the first caution fell. Since this track doesn't give the first car one lap down its lap back and lap cars restart behind the lead lap cars, Garrett found himself racing the other lap cars for 7th. Around lap 76, Garrett found his groove and began to match or exceed the leaders lap times. As the caution flew once again on lap 98, a green white checker was in order. While Garrett was still a lap down, he had to run hard to maintain 7th. When the pack entered turn one, the 6th place car who wasn't contending for 5th, decided to chop down on Garrett. But, Garrett held his line. The result was the 6th place car slamming the outside wall hard as Garrett continued, inheriting a 6th place finish.