By: Toby Christie, Editor – Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie
FORT WORTH, Texas — Fireworks filled the warm Texas night sky as Johnny Sauter crossed the finish line for his fifth-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway. While the mood was jubilant for Sauter and his championship-caliber GMS Racing team, there was a much more somber feeling in the Garage area behind a tiny – by comparison of the other team’s rigs — black 40-foot trailer.
There stood Jordan Anderson, a racer’s racer trying to forge his path to NASCAR Stardom the old-fashioned way, drenched in sweat and noticeably filled with disappointment. The 27-year old stood for several minutes surveying the severe damage to the right side of his No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado race truck, and he wondered alone what could have been.
Minutes earlier, Anderson was amid his best single-race performance of his NASCAR National Series career. The likeable driver from South Carolina started the race from the 17th position, but once the race began, he showed to have a truck that was possibly good enough for a top-10.
In the waning laps of the PPG 400, Anderson was in position to pounce. He restarted in 12th position with 12 laps to go and he had fresh set of sticker tires. Then Anderson’s dream night, went south in a hurry.
“Yeah, we had sticker tires on that last run, and we started rolling there on the outside. We hit a bump there and just kind of bottomed out and it got out from underneath me,” Anderson said after gathering his emotions. “I was off the throttle, off the throttle, off the throttle, but just couldn’t get it turned. Nothing but my fault trying to go for it.”
After taking fault for the crash that ended his night, Anderson thanked his incredible small staff of employees and mechanics who helped turn his team into a contender for a top-10 finish.
“Just extremely proud of everyone who’s helped make this team better. We ran lead lap all night, and we were in contention for a top-10 on our own there,” the young driver said.
Anderson’s truck would slow to a crawl, and he would bring out the caution with just seven laps remaining in the event.
For an underfunded team like Anderson’s the battle is a razor’s edge from week to week. You want to improve your speed, but with limited resources back in the shop, a crash could effectively end your season altogether, and upon climbing from the wreckage you could tell Anderson knew that this incident with a few laps to go would be leading to many more hours for himself and his small rag tag group of mechanics.
“I just hate it,” Anderson anguished. “This is a blow to our program. This is an expensive night unfortunately. I just hate that we were going for it and running so well. It speaks volume for how hard we worked to build this up. We have another truck we are working on back home. This one will go back and get some body work done on it. We will regroup and keep digging. We don’t ever give up, we’ll be alright.”
Anderson is humble, he’s articulate, but most of all he is inspiring. This is what has led this driver, who has gone from start and parking for anyone who would let him drive, to running his own race team into the top-10 to top-20 week in and week out, to having a loyal fanbase and a Twitter following of nearly 36,000.
Another thing that has helped Anderson build a fan base is the hard-working blue-collar nature of himself and his race team. Anderson isn’t just the driver and owner of the No. 3 team, but he also helps drive the truck and hauler to the track, and he helps his mechanics turn wrenches on the machine as the week unfolds.
Anderson was clear that the incident in Texas will not end his magical 2018 season.
“We will be at Iowa, Gateway and Chicago. We’re going to keep digging,” Anderson stated with confidence.
Photo by: Toby Christie / The Final Lap