After struggling with racing for three seasons, Jon Quinton came into 2020 with one goal – win a main event race.
"I wanted the trophy," Quinton said. "I wanted to get the accolades. All my friends I started racing with, they have multiple trophies and championships and track records and all these things. I needed a little bit for myself to keep the motivation up."
After a July 3 race, Quinton’s goals changed. He picked up his first career win in the Denny’s Mini Stocks division at Magic Valley Speedway, and has followed that with three more victories for four wins in four weekends at the NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile semi-banked asphalt oval track in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Quinton’s first two years racing on a circle track didn’t go as planned. He started as a drag racer, but finding drag strips to go to became more difficult and more expensive. When all his drag racing friends started racing on circle tracks and raved about how much fun it was, Quinton decided to give stock cars a try.
"I was like, ‘Well, I’ll build a car. It doesn’t seem too expensive,’" he said. "And I ended up putting that car into the wall. I got a little sideways and decided to headbutt the wall at Rocky Mountain Raceway."
What followed was years of struggles to finish seasons and keep his car out of trouble.
That was until that July 3 race at Magic Valley, where Quinton is in his third year of racing.
"I was kind of surprised to be honest with you," Quinton said of the win. "I came across the finish line and they said, ’27, do an extra lap, bring it around, and pull in the winner’s circle.’ And I just stopped and thought, ‘I’m 27. Huh, ain’t that something,’" he said. "The way lapped traffic worked out I was able to squeeze by them and get my first win."
Quinton decided to just go back to basics this season in hopes of turning his luck around. He went with a factory engine, made sure to get more seat time and ask questions to his racing friends about set-up.
Being able to have consistent top finishes and keep his car together has boosted his confidence on the track, and coming home with some extra hardware has helped as well.
"We go from no wins and can’t keep a car together to four in a row. That’s something else. I can’t explain it," Quinton said. "It’s been a blast, to say the least."
Quinton and his nephew, Jordan Carpenter, work together on both of their mini stock cars. Carpenter is fifth in the points at Magic Valley, and the duo will often go into races with two different setups to see which works best.
"We’ve got our little team," Quinton said. "It’s really nice to have him there and racing. It’s a family-friendly world."
Quinton thanked sponsors CGracing and Carson Racing for the help this season and said working with family and having friends at the track who have supported him has been part of what kept him coming back through the early racing struggles.
"The competition, the camaraderie. The people you meet through any form of motorsports, they’re lifelong friends. They really are," Quinton said. "The people I’ve met in drag racing, I’m still friend with them, and it’s been 15 years, easily."
There’s also a different adrenaline rush in turning laps with another car inches away from his door and focusing on putting together a good race for multiple laps that Quinton didn’t get when he was drag racing.
Since Quinton’s first win, his goals for the 2020 season have changed. Now he’s turned his sights bigger. He’s currently second in the mini stock points at Magic Valley, and first in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division III points, another shock in a season full of them.
"I didn’t even know it was possible to be honest with you," he said. "I had no idea it was even possible."
Now, he’s working towards trying to win a track championship at Magic Valley and a national title. He’s even backed out of a race in California to stay at home and collect as many NASCAR points as possible.
The key, he said, is continuing to be consistent.
"Drive through the pack and finish top 2, top 3 at the least," he said. "Which I’ve been able to do all year. As long as the car stays together mechanically I feel like I can drive a clean and quick race."
Racing will return to Magic Valley this Saturday with ICCU Modifieds, Brennan’s Carpet Midgets, Denny’s Diner Minis, Valley Office System Hornets, Quales Electronics Jr. Stingers, and Extreme Staffing Double Deckers.