DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The wrecked carcass of the No. 27 Capitol City Towing Chevrolet sat dormant in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage at the conclusion of Friday (Aug. 25) night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Standing among it were the friends and family of the vehicle’s pilot, Jordan Anderson, who had made a mandatory trip to the speedway’s infield care center after crashing in a late-race incident.
But when the man of the hour returned, it wasn’t a scene of sorrow but one of joy.
Immediately upon his arrival, out came the phones to take pictures and the sharing of laughs. The team had something to celebrate, for it was its 200th start in its existence, and it ended with all three cars in the top 15.
It had been Anderson’s first start in any NASCAR competition since his terrifying and fiery crash in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway last October that resulted in Anderson being airlifted to nearby hospital.
While Daytona may not be the finish many would have hoped for, the JAR team owner was ecstatic.
“Honestly? It’s a huge night for our team,” Anderson told Frontstretch. “To come away with my first time back behind the wheel with a top 15. Jeb [Burton] was 12th. Parker [Retzlaff] was sixth. All three of our cars in the top 15 after literally having to come down pit road at the start of the race. … What a fun night.”
But the evening had started as anything but.
On Thursday afternoon, it was revealed that all three JAR cars had failed pre-race inspection and would have to do a drive-through penalty at the start of the 100-lap event. It was an infraction that would almost certainly cost them time and points, as Daytona is known for its reliance on the draft in large packs of cars.
But the team pushed on.
“Yesterday was just a bump in the road,” Anderson said of the penalties. “You can’t call us racers if we’re not pushing the limits.”
Despite its short distance, the race’s ending saw the JAR cars fighting for positions within the top 10.
At the point of the team’s spear was Retzlaff, the team’s young gun racer of the No. 31 entry who on the final restart found himself in fourth on nearly on track to perhaps earn his first career win.
While it didn’t end that way for the Wisconsinite had wanted, he picked up another top-10 result by finishing sixth – the sixth of his rookie season.
“I’m just happy we got a good finish,” Retzlaff told Frontstretch. “We can use this momentum going into the playoffs … I’m just trying so hard to compete with the big teams and all that for wins. I feel like this was our last good shot to win a race.
“I really wanted a top five tonight.”
For Burton, the story was a little more chaotic.
The Virginian is the usual racer of the No. 27. However, this weekend he had donned the livery and number of his Daytona 500-winning father Ward Burton in the No. 22.
With nine laps to go, Burton was one of the many casualties of the classic Daytona Big One.
Slightly damaged, Burton’s No. 22 didn’t have the speed it once did. He rallied to finish 12th.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Burton told Frontstretch. “Our car just wasn’t where it needed to be … It could’ve been a lot worse. It could’ve been a lot better.
“We’ll just keep the momentum rolling.”
Anderson was among those in the heart of the pack in the closing laps. However, he ended up among those in the final crash of the night. While he wasn’t among his two employees hovering in the top 10, he still managed to pick up a top 15 – his best career NASCAR finish since the Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway over a year ago.
“What a way to start my first time back,” Anderson continued. “Just a lot of crazy stuff tonight … To come back from what happened at Talladega and come here. To cross that part off and getting back in the car, it makes me want to come back and do more next season, hopefully.”
The results come only five years after a time when JAR was a one-truck team making its first start at the same racetrack in Daytona. That evening in February, JAR consisted of Anderson, his father and three friends.
The team finished ninth that evening, and in its 200 races since has gone on to earn a Xfinity win, seven top fives, 28 top 10s and enter three cars in one Xfinity race.
“It takes good people,” Anderson said in the garage among his three haulers and his grown JAR family. “I feel like we got a lot of good people around us. I’ve got a lot of really badass group of guys that want to build really fast race cars.
“It’s our team’s 200th start. To be able to be in the car and be a part of this is very special … I’m very blessed to do what I love to do.”
Here’s to 200 more.
About the author
Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loud column and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.
Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT
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