It’s not that we all keep getting older and older, the drivers on the various NASCAR circuits are getting younger and younger. This is true this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as two young homegrown drivers from the state of Georgia are looking to make their marks- one in the competitive world of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and one just a rung below the Sprint Cup Series and racing in the Xfinity Series.
The two drivers, with a combined age of 40 are Austin Hill and Brandon Jones. Hill, 21 is from Winston, Ga., and is a hand-selected driver of the NASCAR Next, a program designed to support and promote the next big names of NASCAR. Hill is currently in his second year as a member of the prestigious program and racing for his family-owned team in the Camping World Truck Series. Jones, who just recently turned 19 got a taste of the Xfinity Series in 2015, but he’s now running full-time in 2016 and he’s setting his goals high.
Hill serves as driver and part-owner of his team, so he’s working non-stop, on and off the track.
“It has been very busy, yet exciting, trying to take on the two tasks—being the driver and essentially team owner,” Hill said.
This weekend will be Hill’s first time competing at AMS in the top three levels in NASCAR — a dream he’s had since childhood. He will be driving the No. 20 ARCO Design/Build Ford F-150, built right in his family’s race shop in Mooresville, NC.
For a young driver, Hill has even more responsibility as he and his wife have just welcomed a new baby daughter into the world.
“She’s three months old now and it’s been a lot of fun,” says Hill. With the help of my family and (my wife’s) family it’s gotten a lot smoother. Outside of the racing, I go home and hang out with those two as much as possible.”
Hill was and is a big Jeff Gordon fan and had the opportunity to meet the recently retired driver on a couple occasions. Could Hill be the next Gordon? Who knows, but Hill will be satisfied to know he’ll have a big rooting section at AMS this weekend.
“I want to put on a good show. It’ll be pretty awesome to see all of my family and friends there. Hopefully we have a good truck and I can perform to the best of my ability.”
Jones, is one of the talks of the Xfinity Series with a strong performance last week at Daytona. He finished seventh and is currently third in the point standings. He’s also leading the Rookie of the Year standings and was listed as one of NASCAR’s top-five young drivers to watch this season. He grew up racing locally, but is making his mark now with Richard Childress Racing.
He began his racing career in 2010 at the age of 13. The following year, he completed his first full season earning the Super Trucks points championships at Lanier Speedway as well as Gresham Motorsports Park, acquiring six pole awards, five wins, five second-place finishes and 16 top-five finishes in 17 starts.Hopefully his Daytona finish is a preview of things to come.
“I was just happy to get out of (Daytona) alive,” admitted Jones. A top-10 finish was a great thing.”
Jones feels he’s always learning something when he is at the track.
“This weekend at AMS, we’ll have some big name Cup drivers in the race. I might be able to pick up on some things they do and get better.”
Jones gained experience racing full-time in the K&N Pro Series East in 2014, scoring his first series victory at Iowa Speedway. The rookie driver finished fourth in the driver championship point standings on the strength of five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. In addition to competing in the K&N Pro Series East, Jones made three ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards starts in 2014, becoming the first driver in the 62-year history of the ARCA Racing Series to have back-to-back wins in his first ARCA Racing Series starts at Winchester Speedway and Lucas Oil Speedway. He narrowly missed a three-peat at Madison the following week. Rounding out the season, Jones made five Camping World Truck Series starts, posting a career-best finish of fourth at Dover International Speedway.
Jones loves hitting his favorite restaurants when back home and he’s hoping a side trip to Fogo de Chao will propel him to a great finish in Atlanta and by the end of the year, the Rookie of the Year Award.
“You may start with a 10th place finish and work your way to 5th,” added Jones. “The Rookie of the Year would be a great goal. Yea, that’s our number one goal and it would be a great accomplishment for our team.”
These two are two of the young stars of NASCAR, from the state of Georgia and great representatives and role models in motorsports. For more on these two racers, check out their respective websites at www.austinhillracing.com and www.brandonjonesracing.com. Get tickets for this weekend at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.