In the NFL Draft, there is always a player that surprises many by going off the board much earlier than previously projected. Jake Garcia was expected to be picked up in this year’s Speed51 Short Track Draft, but when fellow Georgia native and NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott called his name as the 10th overall pick, it shocked many in the short track racing world.
Garcia became the first driver to go from undrafted to a top ten pick since another Georgia racer, Casey Roderick, went number five overall in 2017 after missing the cut the year before.
“It’s pretty cool to be the 10th selection in the Short Track Draft and it’s cool to have Chase Elliott introduce me there. Last year I didn’t even get drafted so it’s cool to be in the top ten,” Garcia said on the Short Track Draft Selection Show. “It’s a pretty big jump, we’ve made lots of gains throughout this year and last year and we’re getting better. Maybe we can continue to climb and be even higher next year.”
Garcia has thrusted himself into the Short Track Racing spotlight in the past few months, which started with a win with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour at Fall Brawl at Lucas Oil Raceway. He won the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series championship at Five Flags Speedway, then turned around and scored a runner-up in the Snowball Derby at the end of the season.
He recently won the biggest race of his career at Montgomery Motor Speedway in the Alabama 200 in early March, on the same week he acquired his learner’s permit.
It was surely a case of “What have you done for me lately?” that helped propel the 15-year-old to the top ten in this year’s Short Track Draft.
“We’ve had a lot of great runs over the past few months. We won the Fall Brawl last fall and then we won the championship down there at Five Flags Speedway and second place in the Snowball Derby. We came to Montgomery this spring and won that too. It’s definitely been a good few months, hopefully we can continue with some of that momentum.”
Garcia will expand his Super Late Model schedule in 2020 once racing returns, while still competing in select Pro Late Model races. He will do so under the tutelage of former Snowball Derby champion Ricky Turner, who has helped fellow Georgia racers Chase Elliott and Chandler Smith achieve the number-one overall pick in years past and go on to success in higher levels of the sport.
He credited Turner with what he’s been able to accomplish at this point early in his career.
“Ricky’s just really good, he doesn’t have just one thing that makes everybody that runs with him good. He’s got a lot of things going for him, he can set up a race car really good and more importantly, he can teach me how to drive it. Ricky’s a good guy, it’s cool to have him in my corner and work with me.”
With more success down the road, Garcia could very well become a number one overall pick in future Short Track Drafts and follow a long line of drivers from the Peach State who have climbed the ladder.
Did you miss the 2020 Short Track Draft Selection Show? You can watch the full show, including Garcia’s post-selection interview, now on Speed51 by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twiter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo