DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Jordan Anderson gambled big for the opportunity to open the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season strong, investing in a new superspeedway truck for Friday night’s tilt at Daytona International Speedway. It’s nothing new for the scrappy South Carolinian who has driven his own hauler to races, maxed his bank accounts to compete and has cultivated support from sponsors and fans drawn to his winsome personality.
Anderson not only survived but flourished, just missing his first win by a matter of inches but salvaging a career-best second place in a fender-scraping clash with race winner Grant Enfinger. Not surprisingly, the jovial 28-year-old with the underdog ethos was beaming after the NextEra Energy 250, but with a twinge of bittersweet feeling after having a brush with Victory Lane slip away.
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“I’m excited. I’m excited, man,” Anderson said on pit road post-race. “I think I’m going to be disappointed when I’m laying in my bed at 2 a.m. tonight, watching the replay on Twitter and I’ll be like, Oh, it was so close! But I can’t be too disappointed. It’s Daytona and second place. Every kid dreams of coming here and competing at this level. The Truck Series has kind of been home for me the last couple of years and to get this finish is a huge blessing.”
Anderson threaded through a race of carnage, lining up for an overtime finish in sixth place with Enfinger out front. He was still fifth by the time the front-runners flashed under the white flag, then advanced to second when Ross Chastain bobbled after contact in Turn 1.
Anderson kept Enfinger in sight until he veered to the outside exiting Turn 4. As he raced alongside, Enfinger blocked his progress with a door-to-door slam to edge him out at the line. “I was able to chase him up, slow him down just enough and then get off of him after I had stalled his momentum,” Enfinger said. “I don’t know if I could do it again if we tried.”
For Anderson to come up just .010 seconds short, it was the next step in a life’s journey that’s he’s savored through the highs and lows.
“It means a lot, I’ll say that,” Anderson said. “This finish tonight hopefully is for every underdog in America, every kid that stays up late and works on his dirt Late Model or his Legends Car and dreams of coming here to Daytona. Hopefully this finish tonight encourages them to never give up on their dreams that you can come here and compete in NASCAR without having million-dollar sponsors, you can come here and fight and claw and dig and tell everybody that says you can’t do it, to prove them wrong and be here. This is for all those kids that are out there fighting for it. …
“I always talk about embracing the journey and I think embracing the journey is just believing that everything in life happens for a reason — good, bad, indifferent. Everything happens and we just try to learn from it, be better people and … this is cool. I’m usually a pretty happy guy, but this is huge.”