Race Weekend Central

Only Yesterday: Jordan Anderson Is Everything Fans Love in a Driver

Arguably the biggest story that emerged from the NASCAR weekend at Talladega Superspeedway was Jeb Burton’s upset win in the Xfinity Series.

It was Burton’s second career win in the Xfinity Series (and his first in two years), and it was the first win for Burton’s team Jordan Anderson Racing, which Burton had just joined at the beginning of the 2023 season.

Team owner Jordan Anderson has long been known and beloved by fans for his grassroots approach to racing, and his road to finally reaching victory lane has been rocky to say the least.

See also
Jordan Anderson Leaves Talladega, This Time By His Own Accord, a Winner

Anderson’s family didn’t have any kind of racing background. It was clear from the start that if Anderson wanted to go NASCAR racing someday, he’d have to make his own way.

He debuted in the Craftsman Truck Series (then sponsored by Camping World) in 2014, driving two races: one for the now-defunct MAKE Motorsports and one for Mike Harmon Racing (now known as CHK Racing).

He continued driving for Harmon in 2015, even making a few Xfinity Series starts. But he then joined Bolen Motorsports in 2016, driving the No. 66 truck and attempting all but three races. He failed to qualify for Atlanta Motor Speedway and the spring Martinsville Speedway race, but his efforts were enough to allow him to compete full-time in 2017, thanks to fans’ support.

In September of that year, a “Fueled by Fans” campaign allowed Anderson and Bolen to buy a new motor, as over 120 fans donated money to the cause. This was the first time fans helped Anderson on a national scale, and his support only grew from there.

2017 did not get off to a great start for Anderson, as he failed to qualify for the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. At Atlanta, he crashed out of the race in a wild ride after getting turned by Korbin Forrister in turn 4 and catching the infield grass, shearing the whole splitter off of the truck.

The truck was destroyed and left Anderson with no truck for the next race at Martinsville Speedway. He then set up a website, SponsorJordan.com, that allowed fans to donate to fund a truck. This website is still in existence and essentially serves as a gear shop for Jordan Anderson Racing memorabilia.

With the help of race fans, Anderson was able to return to the track in a partnership with JAR and TJL Motorsports, driving the No. 1 at Kansas Speedway and for the rest of the season (save for two races that TJL had already contracted drivers to race).

In 2018, Anderson had gained enough money to start his own outright race team, for which he ran the full season with (except for Eldora Speedway, where Ryan Newman stepped behind the wheel). He did the same thing in 2019, except Carson Hocevar drove at Eldora that year instead of Newman.

Then 2020 came around, and Anderson was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

After the season-opener race at Daytona became a race of attrition, Anderson found himself in second heading into turn 1 on the final lap. After following Grant Enfinger around through turn 4, Anderson swung high and made his move. Enfinger door-slammed Anderson several times heading toward the start/finish line, killing Anderson’s momentum enough for Enfinger to hang on for the win (although, another 100 feet and Codie Rohrbaugh would have slipped underneath both of them to steal a win)

For one second, it looked like Anderson’s hard work and struggles to make it to the series full time was about to pay off. Instead, it ended in heartbreak, with Anderson finishing a career-best second.

Anderson didn’t seem to mind, though.

In perhaps one of the most electrifying interviews in Truck Series history, and perhaps NASCAR history, Anderson was interviewed by FOX Sports immediately after the event and Anderson was overjoyed to be in the position he was in.

“Grant, what are you doing door-slamming me, man?” Anderson said. “I came here in 2015 and emptied my bank account to try to come down here and run.”

Anderson then thanked the fans who had supported him along the way.

“All you guys that follow me on Facebook and Twitter, all you guys in America, they keep me going. The journey isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.”

At the end of the interview, Anderson let out a joyous scream and yelled, “Daytona! We almost won!”

Never in my life have I seen someone so excited about being edged out for a win, but Anderson was able to do it his way. And if there was any doubt about how great of a guy Anderson was, that interview certainly helped turn several heads. Unfortunately, that was the only real highlight of Anderson’s season outside of a sixth-place finish at Talladega.

2021 started similarly, with Anderson finding himself in a situation similar to Rohrbaugh the year before. Running third off of turn 4, Anderson snuck around Cory Roper to finish second for the second year in a row after Roper lost all of his momentum leading off of turn 4 and lost to Ben Rhodes. Anderson nearly accomplished what Rohrbaugh failed to do — slip underneath the top two and steal the win. But again, Anderson was so close.

That season was also a big step for Anderson, as he announced plans to start an Xfinity program and run in that series full time. Unfortunately, the team failed to qualify for the season opener at Daytona after rain canceled qualifying. With COVID-19 rules in effect, the next race where qualifying took place was Circuit of the Americas, so Anderson technically did not qualify for the first nine events. He instead went back down to the Truck Series and ran a part-time schedule.

In 2022, Anderson began to scale back his driving duties, attempting only six races in the Truck Series, qualifying for five. His Xfinity program had itself a new driver: Myatt Snider, who came over from Richard Childress Racing. The partnership was average at best, with the team acquiring four top 10s. But at Portland International Raceway, the team found itself with a bad-fast car.

Snider won stage 2 of that race on pit strategy, got some lucky breaks and was able to find himself second in the late stages of the race. However, AJ Allmendinger had the race on lock at that point in the race, and Snider and co. had to settle for second. But the finish gave the team high hopes for the rest of the season.

However, the rest of the season didn’t pan out the way anyone wanted it to, as the second-place finish was the last time the team sniffed the top 10.

However, the team gained some notoriety at the fall Martinsville race, after contact between Snider and Austin Hill led to the latter confronting Snider on pit road after the race. After some words were exchanged, NBC cameras caught footage of Hill punching Snider in the face, leading crews to have to separate the two.

Snider was let go at season’s end, and 2023 marked another big stepping stone for Anderson: He was going to solely be a full-time owner in the Xfinity Series. No Truck starts have been planned, and Anderson himself has no plans to get back behind the wheel at the time of this writing. This was largely in part due to a life-threatening incident at Talladega in the Truck race last fall.

Anderson’s No. 3 truck caught fire in the middle of the race, and the flames came through to the cockpit. Anderson raced to get out and was crawling out of the truck before it even came to a stop, nearly being crushed between the truck and the inside wall. After jumping off the wall and onto the backstretch (where his truck came to rest), Anderson immediately collapsed and was airlifted to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed with second-degree burns all over his body.

With the focus on nursing his body back to full health, Anderson turned to ownership of not one, but two full-time Xfinity cars. Replacing Snider in the No. 31 was Parker Retzlaff, while Burton was announced for the team’s second car, the No. 27, the same number he ran at Our Motorsports the previous season.

Retzlaff gave the team its first top five of the season at the season opener in Daytona, but Burton had struggled to produce results heading into Talladega — his performance was not poor any means, but he just couldn’t quite crack the top 10. But his performance at Talladega was no fluke. Neither was Retzlaff’s, for that matter.

Both JAR cars qualified in the top 10 (Retzlaff fourth, Burton eighth). Retzlaff led two laps early but fell back, and despite being involved in the first big multi-car wreck of the day, rallied to finish seventh. Burton, on the other hand, led 17 laps and won stage 2 under caution. He then proceeded to hold off Sheldon Creed in overtime to give JAR its first win, and both cars were able to finish in the top 10 for the first time in the team’s history.

Anderson was just as elated as he was that February night in 2020 at Daytona. Unfortunately, Burton blew the transmission when he went to perform a burnout, which probably will set the team back a little bit more than they had hoped. However, nothing can take away the fact that Anderson is now a winning team owner.

Anderson has taken the long road to get to where he is — a very long road, for that matter. His road has had peaks and valleys, but his enthusiasm for racing and his grassroots approach to building his team is why he is beloved by fans. In turn, his fans’ never-wavering support for him is a very big reason why he keeps doing what he loves for a living.

And now, he’s got a winning race team.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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People like Anderson, are what made NASCAR what it has become.

That’s why I’m watching Sam Hunt’s teams so closely, he’s another one out of the same mold.

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