The last time Garrett Jones raced at Hickory Motor Speedway, he turned around and won the Lee Fields Memorial 150 at Mobile International Speedway.
Currently third in the Southern Super Series championship standings, Jones doesn’t see any correlation between the 0.363-mile bullring and the Alabama half-mile, but he’ll take all the good omens he can get in advance of Saturday night’s Fields Memorial.
The 17-year-old has enjoyed a good season, but not a particularly great one, and is looking forward to returning to the site of his first Super Late Model triumph.
Last year, he ran the PASS South race at Hickory and that precluded his victory in the Field. Again, there’s no similarities but it was a good sign. Jones ran the Throwback 276 at Hickory on August 5 and finished 12th.
Maybe he’ll go back to back in the Fields.
“To be honest, nothing is the same, Mobile is spread out with long corners and Hickory is tight,” Jones said. “But, we come here a lot. Our shop is 15 minutes down the road so this is where we test. This place is where we come to test stuff, different packages, shocks and springs. The track is pretty different but we come here when we need to learn how our car is changing.”
Saturday night will prove to be pivotal in the Southern Super Series championship battle.
Jones currently trails SSS points leader Stephen Nasse and Chandler Smith in the points chase. With 31 points between himself and Nasse, Jones knows that it is going to take strong and consistent finishes to put himself in contention for the championship.
Smith trails Nasse by eight points.
“It’s really cool, because the Southern Super Series has had really good competition this season,” Jones said. “I’m not sure where we’ve stacked up the last few races, but we’ve got to be better to beat Chander (Smith) and (Stephen) Nasse. We’re going to have to beat them head-to-head to be there on the last night.”
The final three races are the Fields on Saturday, the Watermelon Classic at Watermelon Capital Speedway on September 2 and the championship finale on September 23 at Five Flags Speedway.
To make up over 30 points, Jones knows he needs to be a tick better over the next month.
“Right now, I think we’ve got a really good car and we’re getting better,” Jones said. “We always race better than we qualify so we need to do a better job of that and get out front and stay there.
“We’re not as happy as we want to be because I haven’t won yet. That’s the biggest thing. We need more interviews and publicity. We need that to get some exposure and resources. It’s sort of unfortunate but we don’t have the funding to do an ARCA or K&N yet with our family. We need to find some sponsors to get some things going. I’m not as happy as I want to be yet, but hopefully tonight can be our first win of the season and get things going in the right direction.”
On the bright side, Jones’ success in the SSS this year will be enough to lock him into the Snowball Derby in December on points. Given some of his qualifying struggles this year, knowing he’s locked in is good from both a competition and marketing standpoint.
It’s easier to sell sponsorship when you’re already guaranteed a spot.
“The biggest thing is that we’re going to be locked into the Derby for sure,” Jones said. “We’re still working on qualifying and getting that locked down so to be already in the Derby for sure is really calming. That’s a big sigh of relief.”
The Lee Fields Memorial is Saturday night at Mobile International Speedway. There is a live PPV broadcast available and that can be purchased here.
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