Special from Racing America – It’s cool enough that Jackson Boone grew up just 30 minutes away from his local short track, and it’s a different level of cool when the track is historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. So, it’s even cooler that Boone has two chances to race at his historic home track against the toughest competition in the discipline on Saturday in the North South Super Late Model Challenge.
The 2019 track Pro Late Model champion will drive Jamie Yelton’s Fathead Racing No. 7 in both the Pro Late Model and Super Late Model races prior to the ARCA East Music City 200.
“It’s a huge deal,” Boone told Racing America on Thursday night. “A lot of drivers don’t have the privilege to unload 25 minutes from home and I get to do it here. I’ve been spending Saturday nights here since I was a kid. My dad’s dad took him here so I’m proud that I get to be a part of this track’s history in some way.”
Boone is still making the transition from Pro Late Model champion to Super Late Model contender. He says he has around a dozen Super Late Model races to his resume and is still trying to get the nuances of racing with a built motor.
They’ve added crew chief Troy Smith from Donnie Wilson Racing and that’s been a missing component from their initial efforts last year after Boone made the jump from Rackley WAR.
“I love working with Jamie,” Boone said. “I made the move from Willie (Allen)’s deal and then I was out of the car for a year due to sponsorship so last year was kind of a struggle.
“I think we were missing just one guy to come in and be the kind of manager that Troy has been, and the performance is there, even if the results haven’t shown it yet. We’re unloading in the right place now, which allows us to kind of fine tune in a way we couldn’t before.”
It certainly showed during the doubleheader at Pensacola last month with a fourth-place finish on Friday and a competitive car on Saturday was derailed by a stagger issue. The team tested at Nashville on Tuesday and the Super was fast off the truck and most of their efforts went towards the Pro.
“We’ve been trying to test the waters with the Chevy and Ford crate programs,” Boone said. “I think we found something on Tuesday and finally got it good. The Super was good right off the bat, which is different for us, and a really good sign.”
Another change from last season is the goals the Fathead Racing No. 7 team is setting. They used to set result-based goals and that hasn’t been the case this spring.
“We didn’t think we were setting the right goals and we just couldn’t land in a place that was consistently realistic and just wasn’t the right way to approach the season,” Boone said. “So, going into this year, we decided that our goal was to execute.
“If we all do our job, check things off the list, the results will eventually come, and I think that change of approach has been a good thing for us this year.”
Broadly, Boone wants to qualify in the fifth to seventh range and be able to settle there in the first half so they can manage tire wear and be near the top-five by the finish.
“It’s so hard to win,” Boone said. “You show up to Pensacola and you can make a case for 16 teams to hit the set-up and win the race. To race with this caliber of competition, if we can run in that fifth to seventh place range, that’s where you need to be to give yourself a shot in the final laps.
“I haven’t even run 15 Super Late Model races yet. I’m still learning, but I know we have the equipment to win and that’s a really exciting place to be in.”