My name is Jake Piel and I’m a Pro Late Model racer. People often ask me how I got into racing. I honestly can’t remember a time when racing was not a part of my life. From a kid following my father around the local race shop and tracks around the country, to now having the opportunity to drive for #TeamChampion, this is truly a dream come true.
Coming off the high of winning the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Rookie of the Year title for the state of Missouri, 2018 has been a season of ups and downs for our team. We consistently have one of the fastest cars at the track every week but can’t seem to have a night where everything goes well.
On July 7, we had the opportunity to take over #ChampionLive for the biggest race of our season – the “Salute to 75” – in honor of the late Larry Phillips. He’s the only person to ever win five NASCAR weekly racing series National Championships and is a legend in the short track racing world. It’s every driver’s dream to win the race that’s named after him.
Our night seemed to follow the same general pattern as our season. We were fast early in the night but broke a shock mount in final practice. Thanks to some quick work from the team and a fellow competitor who travels with a welder, we made it to the grid just in time for our heat race. Our luck started changing for the better as we won the heat race in convincing fashion.
The seventy-five-lap feature race had us starting fourth out of sixteen cars. The plan was to not push too hard and take it easy on the tires and brakes for half the race.
After the first ten laps, we settled in at about eighth place. While making a pass for third, the car inside of us moved up and hit our left front fender. This sent our car hard into the outside wall. The right-side wheels drove up the wall high enough that those in the stands said they could see the tires above the wall. The car then came crashing down onto the race track and slid sideways off the banking into the grass. Unfortunately, the damage was too severe for us to continue safely and our night was over.
Following the race, we stripped the front of the car off, repaired the damaged front clip, mounted new bodywork and finalized the setup this week.
Although luck hasn’t been on our side this season, we’re still incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to chase this racing dream. With the support of family, friends and great partners like Champion, we will continue to hunt for that elusive win in this 2018 season. It’s important to remember how much fun this sport truly is!
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2017 SEARCH FOR A CHAMPION GRAND PRIZE WINNERS
Champion would like to congratulate our 2017 Search for A Champion Grand Prize Winners: On the Track Grand Prize Winner Blake Brown and Off the Track Grand Prize Winner Derek Fetter.