Little's final start of 2014 set for Phoenix International Raceway
This week the 17-year old heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the running of the Casino Arizona 100 that will mark his final start of the 2014 campaign.
Little welcomes a new partner to Team Little Racing this week as the Shriner's organization will adorn his No. 97 Chevrolet to promote the upcoming Shriner's East-West Football game to be held at Tropicana Field in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.
"It's an honor to have the Shriner's onboard with us this week and our team is looking forward to sharing all of the wonderful things they do to help children," Little said. "We know that if a child is in need of services from the Shriner's they can go to one of their hospitals and receive help at no cost and that's an exciting message our race team wants to get out to NASCAR fans."
Bringing fans of college football and NASCAR together is exciting for the Shriner's organization heading into the Phoenix event.
"The top college senior football talent on display in the Shriner's East-West game with some of the best professional football coaches leading the teams. The game brings awareness for Shriner's Hospitals across the country and is a wonderful way to share the organization's message," said Fred Vander Ploeg, who was key to putting the package together with Team Little Racing and the Shriner's.
"There is a growing involvement between International Speedway Corporation's race tracks such as Phoenix and Daytona and the Shriner's organization. The great thing about Jesse's involvement is it will bring awareness to the Shriner's with a up and coming driver such as himself helping to promote the organization."
While the race will close out an impressive 2014 season, Little is aware that it is a team effort to reach that success, he explained.
"We have had great partners with us this year as the team earned the New Hampshire victory and our pole awards. Without the support of NASCAR Technical Institute, Lyric, Mac's Speed Shop restaurants and now the Shriner's our year would not be possible. Our goal is to go out to Phoenix and continue the strong run for one more race as we close out the season."
With a runner-up finish last season at Phoenix, Little expects to be in contention this week and bring awareness to the Shriner's organization and the East-West game.
"Phoenix was a great race for us last year and I believe it helped set this team on the path to the success we had in 2014. We've put a lot of work into our cars that head out to the one-mile tracks and with a win at New Hampshire in the summer it shows that (crew chief) Kris (Bowen) and the team have us going in the right direction."
Last season Little contended for a Phoenix victory behind the wheel of his Lyric Chevrolet, which was keen on handling through the tricky one-mile's corners. In 2013 the race was a sprint of 50 laps, this year the event has been moved to 100 circuits around the Arizona oval.
That does change some of Little's strategy this week, he noted.
"When we went out to Phoenix last year we got after it from the drop of the green flag and did everything we could to stay inside the top-5 running order. On Thursday we're going to have to be sure and have some patience and work our way towards the end of the race to put ourselves in contention to pick up another strong finish."
The ability to carry speed through the corner and enter the straightaways with momentum will be the focus of Thursday's practice sessions, Little added.
"Handling is big at Phoenix and we'll be sure to have adjustments in the car to get us through the day. With this being an impound race, once we're done with qualifying it will be important to have a car that we know will be dialed in for the 100-lap main event."
Qualifying and racing for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Casino Arizona 100 is set for Thursday afternoon with the green flag scheduled for 5:30 p.m. local time.
Voting is underway for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Most Popular Driver and Jesse is eligible for the award. Fans can log onto hometracks.nascar.com daily to register their vote for him as voting closes in just a few weeks.
Stay informed of all the latest news regarding NASCAR Next driver Jesse Little by logging onto www.jesselittle.com and at hometracks.nascar.com