Every NASCAR fan that follows the Camping World Truck Series knows that it’s a developmental series. It’s a place for young drivers to get their name out in the open and show people that they’re here to race and race well.
Sometimes though, things don’t work just as they would like.
Jake Crum, 21, has been attempting to make it in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with his self-owned team since 2011. Crum made his NASCAR debut in 2010 with the team Jason White drove for that year, owned by Steve Urvan. Ever since then, he’s been on his own and has managed fairly well, considering his limited funding.
It wasn’t until last season that Crum ran more than five races in NASCAR competition within the same season. Sure, he has some starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, but that doesn’t get the exposure which the Truck Series does.
Now, he may just be able to get the exposure he’s been looking for.
Crum will make his third start of the 2013 season on Wednesday evening at the Bristol Motor Speedway. However, things are different this time for the Statesville, NC native. He won’t be driving for his own team for the first time since 2010, and it’s the first time he hasn’t built the truck from the ground up since.
In collaboration with SS Green Light Racing, owned by Bobby Dotter, Crum will race all 200 laps at the toughest short track in NASCAR for the fourth time in his career. Crum will drive the No. 07 Toyota Tundra sponsored by Bandit Chippers, celebrating the company’s 30th anniversary.
To prepare for the event, Crum ran one of the team’s trucks at Michigan last weekend. Even though he qualified well, he didn’t have the opportunity to race as they decided to start and park.
“It gives me more seat time on tracks that I haven’t been to. I’m just doing it for Bobby to get on more tracks that I haven’t been able to get on and see if we can get more sponsorship,” Crum said on half of his efforts at Michigan.
So, what does he believe it’s going to take to be successful?
“Every other time I’ve been racing, I built the truck myself, but this time Bobby Dotter has the truck sitting there. It’s a Toyota and all they have to do to get it ready is put the motor in. I’ve been over there a couple of times just to get my seat fitted and help the guys out, but that’s about it.”
“Obviously, it’s all about the equipment you have, but you still have to go out there and get the job done. I think where ever we wind up, we wind up. Time will tell and we’ll see how well we run at Bristol.”
It’ll be the first time that Crum enters a truck that’s fully capable of running inside of the top-20. Though the team hasn’t been too successful since Chad McCumbee left several years ago, Crum feels that he’s going to be able to contend for a top-10 as long as everything goes as planned.
Crum was able to take a truck which he built by himself and a few other employees to a 13th-place finish last year at Kentucky, and ran well at Charlotte in May of 2012. This year, he had another good run at Charlotte, but destroyed his truck in a wreck with Ron Hornaday Jr. and hasn’t been able to fix it since, which has put his season on hold until now.
“We have two motors and the one truck that we did have is still sitting there from Charlotte,” Crum stated about what he has left since the accident. “Time will tell, I have to get the opportunity first. If the funding is there to run the whole season then I will. You have to run a whole season before you can run for the championship. I’ll give it my best shot and see where we fall.”
Overall, Crum is a great up-and-coming driver. In order for him to get a shot at running for a full season, he need roughly $1.5-$2 million in sponsorship dollars, and just can’t do that while competing with Parker Kligerman, who has the same sponsor.
Look for Crum to be back in the Truck Series more often with SS Green Light Racing in the future as long as he gets a little funding to go his way.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.