Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#NASCAR Teleconference With NASCAR NEXT Drivers Erik Jones And Jesse Little

This last weekend NASCAR Next drivers Erik Jones and Jesse Little both scored wins in their respective series.

Eighteen-year-old Erik drives the No. 51 Toyota Care Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and seventeen-year-old Jesse drives the No. 97 NASCAR Technical Institute Chevrolet in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Erik is set to make his Nationwide Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Some Questions from the Teleconference

Question: Erik, I know that earlier in the season in the 51 truck you had had some issues. How big was it to run the way you did on Friday night, especially given the fact that you're making a Nationwide debut this weekend?

ERIK JONES: Well, it was great in a lot of ways. First of all, we did have some trouble at the beginning of the year, really none of our own doing, but I was happy that we could finally really put it all together here and pick up a win there at Iowa. That was a pretty cool deal and definitely gave me a lot of momentum going into next weekend and into the Nationwide race.

It was definitely a great win in a lot of ways for everybody over here at KBM and for myself just to get some momentum going. Hopefully we can carry it into this next weekend and keep going on the Nationwide side of things.

And also, is the plan still for you to run the Nationwide races at Bristol and Phoenix later this year?

ERIK JONES: Yep, that's the plan, just those three races we'll be doing. Phoenix will be double duty with the truck and the Nationwide car.

Question: Erik and Jesse, the usual suspects, those individuals that have influenced your racing career with Chad Little for Jesse and maybe Kyle and Joe Gibbs for Erik, but what other individuals have been a part of your development and influence to get you where you are today?

ERIK JONES: I would say for me, you know, obviously my mom and dad have been able to guide me the right direction in my racing career, and I'm a first-generation racer, I'm not from a racing family of any sort, so it's been really a deal of finding people in the racing industry to kind of influence me and show me which way to go. But definitely Kyle has been a big influence on me and pointing me in the right direction and helping me out. I think he's been the biggest person in my career, especially since I've been up at the late model level and above that has been able to really show me the right way to go and what is definitely his opinion on what he thinks I should do next.

JESSE LITTLE: Yeah, I'm in a different boat than Erik. I grew up in the racing world, and that's really all I know. I don't know really too many people outside of it. But other than, like you said, my dad and my mom, it's just people that have been close to my dad and have helped him through his career that he's stayed close with and now I'm beginning to build relationships with. That goes for my dad's old crew chief when he was in the Nationwide Series, Harold Holly, who is Joey's crew chief now, Joey Coulter in the Truck Series, to just everybody that helped him, like I said, in his career. Other than that, it's just really been my dad who really just helps me outside of the car and mainly inside.

Question: Jesse, as far as Virginia International Raceway for the K&N East, what are your thoughts going back to the road course?

JESSE LITTLE: I love it. I got to do both road courses last year in the K&N Series, and I enjoyed it a lot. It's a lot of fun. It's something different. It was my first time on a road course, and I had a blast. I'm looking forward to going back this year, and hopefully we can build a little bit on our finishing. I've got an idea of it now, so I think going in I'm a lot more confident in myself, and it should be a lot of fun.

Question: For both Erik and Jesse, there seems to be a lot of young guys moving up different ranks in NASCAR, and obviously there's a lot of talent out there, and maybe be some big changes the next couple years. What's the biggest challenge that you both think you feel that you've got as you try to take the steps up, and how do you learn from the veterans? Do you watch them on the track? Do you just take everything in stride? Do you listen, that kind of thing?

ERIK JONES: I would say my biggest challenge for a long time was my age. Honestly I was stuck being below 18 and I didn't have an opportunity to run a lot of racetracks that were on the schedule. But obviously that's now out of the way.

Now it's just a matter of getting my name out there, getting a sponsor. It's so hard when you're a young guy that's not well known to find somebody that wants to support you because at the same time there's a lot of sponsors don't want to go and help out a guy that's not well known in the racing world when you can go help out somebody that's known to everybody.

That's the toughest part for me, and on the side of learning from veterans, I would say that I just try to talk to them as much as I can and go and -- any chance I get to speak to one of them, I take it and just take it all in and watch what they're doing.

JESSE LITTLE: Yeah, I second Erik with that completely. I think the biggest thing at both of our ages is just showing owners and sponsors that you have the potential and that you have the potential to succeed, and you're going to be a good asset for them, and I think that's probably the hardest part, just because there's so many good young drivers that have talent and are marketable. I think it's trying to single yourself out and just make sure that you set yourself apart from them in as many good ways as possible.

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