DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Just like he did one year earlier, Jordan Anderson jumped from his No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado late Friday night with a spring in his step, beaming from ear to ear.
It wasn’t a victory he was smiling about, but it was a second-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener that meant “the world” to his self-owned Jordan Anderson Racing operation.
Anderson nearly shocked the world for the second straight season at Daytona Int’l Speedway, avoiding a last-corner crash in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 and charging from 11th at the white flag to second at the checkered.
His momentum entering the tri-oval on the bottom lane of the 2.5-mile superspeedway was nearly enough for him to draw even with eventual winner Ben Rhodes at the finish line, but Anderson fell short by .036 seconds.
But even a second runner-up finish couldn’t wipe the grin off of Anderson’s face as he spoke to reporters following what he called “one of the greatest nights of my life.”
“This is what happens when you never give up!” Anderson said. “I know I’ve got a mask on, but I’m still smiling! I need to go back to Chevrolet and see if we can make these Silverados a little bit longer, because that’s two years in a row we’ve finished second to a ThorSport truck here at Daytona. But it’s a dream come true for everyone that’s supported this program. We had a new sponsor onboard in Swann Security and this is a big moment for a lot of reasons that a lot of people may not realize.
“Back in December, we decided we were going to start an Xfinity (Series) program and we were so close to shutting down our Truck program. (Crew chief) Bruce Cook and I finally started talking, and he was looking for something to do, so I finally said, ‘Hey, let’s just keep this Truck program going,’” Anderson continued. “I’m so glad we did. I’m almost speechless. This is so much energy and so much emotion. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be racing in a (NASCAR) national series. I came from Columbia, S.C., and nobody in my family raced. To go through all we’ve gone through … it’s amazing.
“We were like 12th on the last lap and we’re going Xfinity racing (this year) and finished second at Daytona in a Truck again. Let’s go!”
As good as the ending was, Anderson’s race was almost crushed much earlier, when he was involved in a lap-61 crash that saw his truck spin into the turn-one runoff area but, thankfully, escape undamaged.
“Our night almost ended in that one; I think it was Stewart Friesen or somebody who got into us early … and we went for that huge spin cycle down the short chute going into turn one,” Anderson recalled. “I was puckered up for a second. I thought we were going into the wall. Thankfully, we got out of that one.”
From there, Anderson just laid back and waited in a safe place near the back of the lead pack before fighting his way toward the front during the closing stages of the race.
He admitted, however, that his mindset on the last lap was much different than the previous year.
“I think the biggest thing that was different from last year was that last year we were second coming out of turn two (at the white flag) and, in my head, I was preparing for it and fighting for the win, but to be honest with you … going down the backstretch this year, I was outside the top 10, so the lead and winning wasn’t even in my train of thought,” Anderson admitted. “I was just trying to survive. I feel bad, because I think I clipped Austin Wayne Self there when somebody knocked me down into him, but that whole last lap … I was just trying not to wreck. I was sideways. I had a handful of wheel just trying to keep the thing pointing in the right direction.
“I didn’t really have time to think about anything else, other than ‘Don’t wreck,’ quite honestly,” he added. “Coming out of turn four there, I saw everybody going to the top and I just decided to hug the yellow line here and see what happens, and dang if it didn’t almost work out for us.”
Because Anderson plans to run a full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year, he chose to accrue points in that division rather than in the Truck Series, due to NASCAR’s series declaration rule.
However, even that minor disappointment wasn’t enough to quell the 29-year-old’s enthusiasm.
“I’m kind of bummed that I’m not racing for Truck points this year now,” Anderson admitted, still smiling. “I declared to go race for Xfinity points this year, but it’s still pretty crazy. It’s a huge boost for our team. You know, anytime you can come out of Daytona with a truck that’s for the most part intact, it’s a good night and we did that and almost won the thing. I can’t complain at all.
“This is huge. I’ve had to fight for everything I have. To do this … it’s a special night, it really is.”
As he walked off into the night, Anderson offered a parting thought to the next generation of racers looking up at his path to the top levels of the sport for inspiration and guidance.
“My story is this: for every kid out there who races Legend cars, late models, dirt … never give up,” Anderson said. “If you want to be here, just keep digging.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Anderson’s quest to make the NASCAR Xfinity Series Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 on Saturday morning at Daytona was stifled by rain that canceled qualifying.
Due to the weather cancellation, Anderson was one of five drivers who failed to make the race. He hopes to run the full season with his No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro this year.