WHAT'S UP WITH... JAY ROBINSON RACING
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PICTURES USED WITH PERMISSION FROM JAY ROBINSON AND KENNY WALLACE.
By Dominic Aragon
The NASCAR Nationwide Series is often considered the “younger brother” to the Sprint Cup Series. Even though this is true, the dominant teams in the Nationwide Series are teams from the Sprint Cup Series, which include, but not limited to Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing. But one team that has been around since 2000 has enjoyed limited success at the Nationwide level.
Jay Robinson Racing, founded by Jay Robinson in 2000, has always been a fan of racing in general. “I was four when I went to my first race,” recalls Robinson. “I went to a lot of dirt track races, and races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.” Despite ownership, Robinson says he never really tried to take up racing a race car as a career. “I drove a lot of dirt tracks and late model sportsman racing. It was a hobby of mine, but I never tried to take it up as a s a business until I started my late model team in 1995.”
Jay Robinson Racing, or JRR, made its Nationwide Series debut in 2000. Robinson bought a Nationwide car and engine, with Rodney Childress making the team’s debut at Myrtle Beach. The car wrecked out early, but this was one of many races for JRR.
The team went full time racing in 2001, and the team got its first top-10 run in 2002 with Andy Kirby. “That was a very exciting run for us,” said Robinson. “A top-10 [finish] was unexpected, but it really worked out for us.”
The team really hadn’t enjoyed much success for the next few years. However in 2008, the team acquired a seasoned veteran in Kenny Wallace to help bring the team in the right direction. Wallace had started the season with Armando Fitz Racing, with sponsorship from Shark Energy. Kenny Wallace joined the team at the Nashville race (race 6), and has been with the team since. “It was the biggest coincidence,” recalls Kenny Wallace, “The late Kenneth Campbell, who was a good crew member that worked for [Jay Robinson Racing], called me twice about what I was going to do. Armando [Fitz] didn’t think that [our deal] would go far. At the same time, Jay Robinson had sponsors coming in with the U.S. Border Patrol.”
Since his start with JRR in 2008, Wallace’s best finish came at the 2008 Memphis race, where he and the #28 team finished in the 3rd position. For Jay Robinson, that is his team’s best finish to date. “That was really exciting,” recalls Robinson. “The Border Patrol asked what it would take to be a more competitive team, and I told them we would need more funding. We would basically need double compared to what we were getting at the time. We gave it a try and it paid off. We had a shot to win, but we were certainly happy to be third.” As for Kenny Wallace, running in the top-10 is no stranger to him. “I’m used to running in the top-10, so 3rd was normal for me, but it was really exciting for him, so I was excited with him.”
In 2009, JRR had its best season to date, with the 28 team scoring 2 top-10 runs and coming home 11th in the driver points. For Jay Robinson, he says that the team really over-achieved. “We didn’t have a lot of money, like a lot of teams had.” “We were so close to being 10th in driver points,” said Wallace. “We ran really well at ORP and Iowa, and our goals are to always be in the top-10.”
As of 2010, after this week’s Montreal race, the 28 team is sitting 18th in the driver points. Kenny Wallace’s best finish of the season came at Talladega, when his bruised and beat up car got caught up in the last lap wreck, coming home 11th. “Not having a top-10 this year is not a product of my ability,” stated Wallace. “No top-10s means we don‘t have proper funding.”
The team continues to try and improve each weekend, with the team’s second best finish coming this past week at Montreal. “It was a good race for us, despite we didn‘t have sponsors.”
Currently, there are no plans for JRR to race in the Cup Series, as the economy has had a downturn on the Nationwide Series, purses are getting cut, and the new Nationwide car has really taken a toll on the teams. “Were not turning down [sponsors]. We need sponsors at what ever level we can get them.
Junk Food: Don’t eat much. Occasionally hot dogs
Favorite Track: Talladega
Dream Car: ’69 Torino cobra
First concert: Elvis Pressley
Wallace's main 2010 paint scheme.
One of Wallace's proud sponsors.