Jake Garcia hopes to begin transitioning to a NASCAR career
It feels like Jake Garcia has been around forever, but the defending Southern Super Series champion is just 17 years old and only recently able to begin taking the next steps of his career.
The Monroe, Georgia native will be present with his Super Late Model team on Friday and Saturday at Five Flags Speedway but first will make his NASCAR Truck Series debut at Martinsville Speedway. He will drive a No. 35 Chevrolet Silverado RST out of the McAnally-Hilgemann Racing stable on Thursday.
Garcia has been a fixture in Late Models since 2018 since his pairing with veteran crew chief Ricky Turner. He has eight Pro Late Model victories during that tenure and previously won in NEMA Lights and the Allison Legacy Series as well. He made his ARCA West debut last year at Phoenix.
Now he has set his sights on the upper levels of NASCAR.
"Yeah, I'm really excited about it," Garcia told Racing America. "Definitely the next step in my racing career. Hopefully turn some heads and run pretty good. Maybe attract some attention and pick up some sponsors."
The biggest adjustment for Garcia, beyond the competition will be the increased aerodynamics of racing in a Truck.
"I've asked around about the aero, but everyone says it's one of the things you just have to feel and experience for yourself to get a true gauge on it," Garcia said. "First race is Martinsville, so aero won't matter too much there, but hopefully as we do more of it, I can master it pretty quick."
With that said, aero is definitely something Garcia will feel, even at Martinsville. The decreased power and big spoilers very much create a wake behind them.
It's something Garcia will have to get a feel for during practice and the race
Garcia has a very even-keeled personality. He never gets too high or too low. He is very goal focused. Even though the Truck Series is a big step, Garcia said he doesn't feel a lot of nerves. It's no different than the Snowball Derby or All-American 400 to him.
There is a job to be done.
"Well, you know, you can only do your best, so I don't see a need to feel pressure," Garcia said. "I know I'm going to do the best that I can. Maybe there might be some anxiety or excitement once I get there and feel the moment, but I typically don't feel a lot of pressure."
What about the expectations on Thursday under the lights?
"Well, I'd like to run good," Garcia said. "I have five races this year. I hope to have a couple of top-10s, but I know it's going to be tough. A top five would be amazing."
Could this be Garcia's last season as a full-time Super Late Model driver in exchange for a full slate of Truck Series appearances?
"I'm not sure," Garcia said. "It just depends on how good I do and our ability to attract some extra sponsors. I won't be old enough to run the full schedule, but it's definitely something we would like to do more of."
-Story reposted from RacingAmerica.com