Alabama’s Mobile International Speedway was the site of a true underdog story recently. Almost two weeks ago, a career Bombers driver went to victory lane. Ironically, he went to victory lane in a Pro Late Model; and he did it against some of the best Pro Late Model drivers in the country.
Jay Jay Day started off in “little four cylinder cars,” as he put it, in 2004. Eventually he moved up to Bombers at Mobile, and according to Day, he won 14 of 18 races in one season. Coincidently, Day was given some advice by a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver to move up a division; that advice is what paved the way for his big win.
“Rick Crawford saw me race the year that I won 14 of 18 races,” Day told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “He told me I should move up so he helped me move up into a truck. We raced it for the 2012 year and I won Rookie of the Year and then we won the 2013 Truck championship at Mobile and I finished second in the points at Pensacola. In 2014 I finished second in the points at Mobile.”
After taking much of the 2015 season off because of the birth of his second child, Day said he received a call at the start of 2016 from Preslar Brothers Motorsports. They asked Day if he’d be interested in driving their Pro Late Model this year, a car that Crawford once drove.
“Of course I took them up on their offer,” he said.
Testing is the name of the game in asphalt Late Model racing in 2016. The more you test, the more you win is how some teams feel. Day only got to test once before racing.
“Thursday before the race was the first time I ever drove it (The race was on Friday),” he said. “(Race day) was the first time I ran it around other cars.”
The schedule on this night called for two 50-lap Pro Late Model features. Just as Day, a Theodore, Alabama native, was getting ready to make his Pro Late Model debut, a problem arose and he missed the race. Day said he believed the ignition coil burned out, but he said the team changed everything possible to maybe run the second feature.
“We changed the whole ignition box, the distributor and changed the batteries,” he said. “We didn’t know what the problem was or if we’d be done in time. We barely made it for the second race. I rolled out at the last second.”
The 26-year-old Day started the second feature 15th out of 15 cars; by lap 15 he was taking the lead. He led the rest of the way and took the win in his first ever Late Model start.
“It was the biggest moment of my racing career by far,” said Day. “It was the last race of the night so they opened the gates and let all the fans come down so they all came and surrounded the car. We took hundreds of pictures. It was awesome. It was definitely the best moment of my racing career for sure.”
After the race, Day said in victory lane, “This is for all the Bomber drivers, if you work hard, as long as you believe, it’s possible.”
Day said that he and his dad used to dream about racing Late Models some day, and even though he now has and is now a winner in a Late Model, he said he’ll still always be a Bomber driver.
“That’s all I ever was was, a Bomber driver. If it wasn’t for Rick Crawford making me, forcing me to move up… I wasn’t happy about moving up. I didn’t think I’d be able to go afford to run anything other than the beginner divisions. With the Preslar Brothers calling us and then us winning it’s just crazy.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com