In just its second season of operation, the ULTIMATE Northeast Super Late Model Series is quickly becoming a home for Dirt Late Model drivers that live and compete in the Mid-Atlantic states. One such driver is 2019 rookie contender Shaun Jones, who has competed mainly in Pro Late Models the past two years in the Mason Dixon Shootout Series, while also making scattered Super Late Model appearances across a number of series.
Entering the 2019 season, Jones is aiming to be a Super driver on a primary basis, particularly on the ULTIMATE Northeast circuit. With the season only in its early stages, he’s hoping to continue improving as the season progresses.
“Our season’s been picking up a little bit. We ran two of the ULMS races and one ULTIMATE race at Hagerstown, but we didn’t run good in the feature,” Jones told Speed51.com. “We ran that Maxon Dixon Series for two years in a row, and we ran very well. Rose and Jeff [Compton] are doing a good job of promoting the [ULTIMATE Northeast] series and getting it to take off.”
Even with just one points race checked off, the Pennsylvania driver knows that ULTIMATE Northeast is the ideal place to be for both he and his car owners.
“We like [ULTIMATE Northeast] because it’s only a 15-race deal,” Jones stated. “I’m very fortunate, I’ve got two car owners who work hard to put a good car underneath me. My guys are all older. My car owners are almost all in their 70s. We’re not exactly very young guys. When we race two nights a week, that gets hard on them.”
While Jones is a member of the driver youth movement, the majority of his team is the exact opposite. The combination of youth and veteran experience is one that he hopes will help him to gain knowledge and experience in a timely manner.
“My guys, that’s one good thing about everybody on my crew., everybody’s been around racing for 25 years plus,” he explained. “I’ve got one or two new guys, plus my son comes and helps at the track. I’ve got a good enough crew that I can make a couple of decisions and everything comes together.”
In the past, Jones has been very hands on with his racing career in the shop. But, this tended to sap away his concentration on driving. While he remains hands on, he now has the help and manpower to allow him the focus he needs to wheel his race cars come race day.
“I’ve usually got four or five guys every night in the shop. It makes it a lot easier for me,” Jones commented. “I used to build stock cars and stuff in our area. I got away from that and sold that stuff to focus on this team, I don’t have enough time to mess with that stuff. It was just getting to be too much.
“It’s going to be a learning curve for sure. Prior to this year, I’ve only run Supers about 12 times. But my car owner, Rich Whitfield, has put some good equipment under me.
The next bend in the learning curve is the upcoming stop at “America’s Baddest Bullring’” Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia. This a track that Jones has never seen before and he has not been afraid to ask for advice on how to tackle this tricky oval.
“I’ve never been there. I’m not sure what to expect,” he admitted. I’ve watched a lot of videos. I’m thinking it’s similar to Path Valley, and I like Path Valley and get around there pretty good. I know Freddy Carpenter and Tyler Carpenter pretty well. I’ve called them and asked for some suggestions. They’re great people.”
A solid run Saturday could give Jones the momentum to make an attack going into the rest of the 2019 ULTIMATE Northeast season, and possibly lead to other ventures elsewhere, including on the ULTIMATE Southeast circuit.
“We’re gonna race as much as I’m allowed to race. I’ll race a shopping cart if you let me,” Jones joked. “It don’t matter. As long as we have engines and cars, we’re going to run all the ULTIMATE Northeast races, for sure. We’re planning on going to Virginia Motor Speedway [for the USA 100]. I’m excited to get some of these new tracks I’ve never been to.”
The Dirt Late Model faithful can keep up with all the happenings at Tyler County Speedway through Speed51’s Race Day Now coverage on Saturday night. You can also catch race highlights and a recap on the Speed51 Network, “The Official Video Home of ULTIMATE and FASTRAK.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Patrick Miller Photography