The competitiveness and hard work it takes to get better is what Jake Wright loves most about racing.
After years of work trying to perfect how to get around Houston Motorsports Park, Wright’s efforts have paid off the last two seasons. In 2019 he had two wins and never finished outside of the top 5 in HMP’ Advance Auto Parts Pro Truck Series. He carried that momentum into 2020, winning the division’s opening night race last Saturday.
"It is an incredible feeling," Wright said of his win. "Me and my team have worked so hard to get where we are in the series and it just means so much to start it out with a really good win. It’s awesome."
Wright has been driving at HMP – a NASCAR-sanctioned 3/8-mile banked asphalt oval in Houston – for about 12 years. It was a long road to his current track. He began racing quarter midgets in Austin, Texas when he was five years old, and then eventually moved up to bandoleros at HMP. He then moved to the Allison Legacy Series, where he admits he and his team were rusty.
That’s when he moved to the truck, where they again struggled for a couple of years before finding success last season.
"That’s kind of why it’s so gratifying these last couple years… that we’ve been doing really good," he said. "Because we look back to the past years and we haven’t really had that much success so it’s a really awesome feeling that we’re finally doing good."
Wright has spent years learning as much as he could about racing, from the mechanical to the on-track aspects, which he has not only enjoyed but that dedication to educating himself has shown in his recent success at Houston.
"Learning… how I can change the line on the track or the entries, when I can get back on the gas, it’s all very fascinating to me," he said. "I’ve been doing this quite a while now and it never gets old. I’ve yet to get bored. I always have a smile on my face every time I put that helmet on and I’m just ready to go to work.
"I really do feel like Houston is the one track that I now I feel like I have it down pretty darn good. I know my braking points, I know what a good line to run is. Seeing those other guys, what they’re doing, how can I do it a little different? Maybe it could be better, it could be worse, just trying different things."
Wright has also had a racing family to learn from. His dad raced quarter midgets before getting into stock cars at Longhorn Speedway in Texas in the 80s. The elder Wright quit racing when Jake Wright’s brother was born, but he supported the two brother’s dreams in the sport. Wright’s brother now works as a timing and scoring official with NASCAR.
His dad, mom, and stepmom have always been there every step of his race career.
"Having them there and having my back as much as I have theirs, it’s a real team," Wright said. "There’s no other people that I would want to trade them for."
Wright missed the first race of the 2019 season while the team finished getting his truck ready, which ultimately hurt his championship hopes.
This season, the title is his No. 1 goal. The start of the season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Wright said getting back in the truck was "just like riding a bike," and there wasn’t any rust despite going more than seven months between races.
Wright has learned a lot in his time at HMP to know how to keep the momentum going throughout the rest of the season.
"Just keeping a cool head. Don’t get overzealous, don’t get cocky, just run your race, keep a good head on your shoulders. You’ll be fine, I’ll be fine," he said. "That’s kind of how I look at it. As long as I stay calm, hit my marks, do what I got to do, I should be good. And if I don’t win that night, I don’t win that night, but as long as I do the best I could then that’s all I care about.
"I don’t know what it really is about racing that I like, but it’s just everything about it is just awesome."