By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Entering the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway, Jesse Little and his JJL Motorsports team were coming off his career best finish of 14th at Dover International Speedway. Competing part-time in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, this marked Little’s second start of the 2017 Truck Series season.
It was clear that Little’s No. 97 Triad CNC Toyota Tundra had speed after unloading off the transporter as he was third fastest in the first practice. In the second practice, Little slipped back to 10th on the speed charts. In qualifying, he was fast enough to earn the ninth starting spot.
Stage 1 of the M&M’s 200 flashed by as it went caution free. Little hovered towards the back of the Top 10, ending the stage in 11th.
Stage 2 seemed like it would be a replay of Stage 1 until Mike Senica, who was making his debut, spun with 11 laps left in the stage. All but race leader Christopher Bell and Grant Enfinger elected to pit under the caution.
Little restarted on the inside line, which turned out to be beneficial. Enfinger struggled to get moving and was forced up to the outside line. As Enfinger held up the outside line, the inside, including Little, surged forward.
Before Little could get too far, the caution waved for a three-truck incident on the backstretch. The clean-up brought Stage 2 to an end under caution. Little ended up finishing the stage in eighth, earning him three Championship Points.
When the race restarted after a lengthy red flag, there were just 14 trucks on the lead lap, including Little.
As the final stage ticked away, some of Little’s competitors encountered trouble of their own. Ryan Truex suffered an engine failure, Cody Coughlin pitted, and with six laps to go, Matt Crafton was spun into the outside wall by his teammate, Enfinger. This dropped the number of trucks on the lead lap, and in striking distance of victory lane, to just 11.
In the chaotic jockeying of position on the restart, Little dropped outside of the Top 10, to 11th.
As the field took the checkered flag, Harrison Burton got loose under Justin Haley. The two made contact, sending Burton’s No. 51 Morton Buildings Toyota Tundra hard into the outside wall, and Haley’s No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado spinning. Little leap-frogged both to take the checkered flag in ninth.
This is Little’s first career Top 10 finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 11 starts, and his career-best finish to date.
Little Tweeted his thanks to his JJL Motorsports crew,
— Jesse Little (@jesselittle97) June 24, 2017
Now Little and JJL Motorsports will look to the future as they look to add to their 2017 schedule.