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NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Terra Talks with Jesse Little, Vol. 3

“I like to see it from the positive side.” – Jesse Little (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

In the last installment of Terra Talks with Jesse Little, the Young’s Motorsports driver shared that he hoped to capture top 15s and top 10s during the summer stretch. While numerous racing incidents prevented this accomplishment, he still captured three top 20s and a P14 finish in his last six races.

On a more personal note, Little was recently inducted into the Shriners fraternity. He has worked closely with Shriners Hospitals for Children over the years and this was a huge step for him as a NASCAR ambassador. 

In this conversation with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, we focus on a few on-track moments, talk summer fun, learn more about his Shriners involvement, and much more!

The third installment of Terra Talks with Jesse Little is coming your way! (Image: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Terra Jones: I want to start with your big news from last week. You’ve partnered with Shriners Hospitals for Children for some time, but now you’re a Shriner! How does this affiliation change things, if at all, now that you’re officially part of that fraternity?

Jesse Little: Yeah! So before it was always fun to be a part of an ambassadorship for the hospitals and the Shriners. There’s a lot of ways of doing that. And, really, anyone can obviously raise money for them and generate nice PR for the hospitals and volunteer for the kids. But now that I’m actually a Shriner, there’s a lot more connection to my philanthropy and what I do to make sure the hospitals can continue to provide excellent care for all the families and patients. It’s nice! It’s another feather in the cap for me and something that I’ll be able to have for the rest of my life!

Jones: That’s really exciting! Congratulations on that! We’ll move to the track now. Ahead of this last stretch of races, you shared you were hoping for top 15s and 10s. While you accomplished that at Darlington, I want to talk about Kansas where you finished 24th. I know you sustained a lot of damage throughout that race, but knowing that you’re scheduled for the second race there, what are you doing to prepare and aim for a better finish come September?

Little: Kansas will be the first time that the team and I will go to a racetrack that we’ve had experience with before. It’ll be important for us to look at it as, “We know how things went there the first time and that was obviously not at all how we wanted to run.” We learned a ton of things from it, and that was kind of the catalyst for our next four or five mile and a half races to really get better. So now we’re going back there with everything we’ve learned and it’s more of a validation race. It’s more of, “This is how we know we should run, so let’s do it here.” Especially being that we were there just a couple handful of months earlier. 

“I wanna make sure they have that knowledge that I’m not letting off at all.” – Jesse Little (Photo: Riley Thompson | The Podium Finish)

Jones: It’ll be exciting to see the work pay off. Now, it’s no secret the Truck season is very short compared to Cup and Xfinity, and when sharing a ride like you are with Kaz Grala, it gets even shorter. How do you stay fresh and in the “race groove” during stretches of off-weeks?

Little: Yeah, it can be difficult. It can be challenging. It’s already short and we have a handful of off weekends. It almost has to be forced upon us to have an open dialogue with the guys and get as much out of them as you can [about the] races that you’re not driving.

They were obviously just in Ohio this week, and although I’m not running any road courses, they were all Kaz’s races, it’s still important to know the ins and outs – to know how they communicated and how the weekend went for them, if there were any other issues off the racetrack that weren’t specific to just the race car that need to be addressed. So it’s just being involved in all aspects and making sure that when you do get behind the wheel, you’re able to take advantage of it one hundred percent.

Jones: And what about for fun? You shared in winter, you’re into skiing, but what do you like to do in summer during your off time? 

Little: I spend a lot of time with family and friends. Lake Norman’s not far away, so I get out there as much as I can. We do a handful of vacations. We just had the 4th of July, so that was nice to spend that time with some friends and family. I go to a couple weddings and go to a couple of parties and birthdays and stuff like that. Just the normal social scene that I might not always get to do in the summer! 

(Photo: Cody Porter | The Podium Finish)

Jones: Very fun! Now, I love listening in on the scanner. It definitely gives a unique perspective to race day. During the Charlotte race, you were down a lap and your crew chief told you you were “pacing P3.” My first thought was, “That’s fine and dandy, but he’s still down a lap!” (laughs) As a driver, is that helpful to hear? And what can you do with that information?

Little: (laughs) Yeah. It’s a double-edged sword. It’s nice to know you’re quick, but at the same time, like you just said, it’s like, “This isn’t really helping!” (laughs) But if anything, it reminds you how imperative the races are and how many layers of variables there are to it. You can be fast, you can be quick, but if you don’t have track position or if you had a bad restart, you’re stuck in that situation. And that time, a situation like that presented itself. While we didn’t have the track position we needed, at least we did have a fast race car. 

We go back to that race as being one of the best ones where we have had raw speed. It reminds the guys that we’re not far off. And, I like to see it from the positive side of, if we are a lap down, I’m still gonna drive like we’re in the top five. And I wanna make sure that they have that knowledge that I’m not letting off at all.

Jones: That’s really neat to hear. I’ll try not to be so snarky when I hear that on the scanners next time! (laughs)

Little: (laughs) Yeah. Exactly! 

Jones: Now, Gateway was a surprise addition to your schedule! I went back and saw you had raced there in 2018 and brought home a P7. What knowledge were you able to carry over from that race to help you bring home a top 20 this time?

Little: It was nice to get back! Gateway for us when I was there in 2018 was, well, like it is now for everybody. It was a lot different in the sense of we had a lot of practice, we were able to make mock runs, qualifying was multiple rounds. It was just different. It was easier to get acclimated back then. 

I felt like this year going there and taking what I learned mainly was just the knowledge of how the track changes and its unique layout. You drive it differently shifting at one end to the other and you’re just staying on top of it. And I felt like it helped, but, I really would’ve liked to have used that to our benefit in a longer practice! (laughs) But, everyone’s dealing with the same thing. So it was decent to at least scrape and claw and salvage a top 20 finish.

(Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Jones: Alright! Quarterly Question time. Take us in the earbuds of Jesse Little. What do you like to listen to to get hyped for race day?

Little: Honestly, I’m pretty boring. I don’t really listen to a lot of music on race weekends. If I am working out that morning or going for a run, it’ll be some alternative rock or punk rock. Something along the lines of Blink 182 or Neck Deep or something like that. But usually, when I’m at the racetrack, I’m not listening to much.

Jones: Definitely understandable! Just a couple more for you. In my last interview with our Xfinity Series quarterly driver, Bayley Currey, he mentioned that he works on the interior of his car. I’m sure this varies from team to team, but where are you and No. 02 team when it comes to setting up the truck? Are you hands off? Hands on? And if so, in what ways?

Little: I think Bayley and I are pretty similar in the sense that we grew up having to work on our stuff and the guys that Tyler (Young) has brought on, they’re very good at what they do. I’m able to take a lot of the knowledge that I had from when we had our own race team and use it, whether it’s working on interiors or making it a little better here or there, doing something different to make it more efficient and effective.

Then when it comes to setting up, I thoroughly enjoy going to the pull down rig with the guys and going over the final setup and forcing the mind to refresh all the information. 

But I’m certainly not gonna tell them what to do or how to do their job. I just try to be an extra set of eyes and if I see something that might need a little extra attention, I’ll bring it up in a way where they know I respect what they do. I let them have the space to be creative and do what needs to be done.

(Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

Jones: Good deal. Now, this will be the last time we talk until after the finale in Phoenix. I always like to hear how drivers are continuing to learn in order to better their craft. What is one thing you’ve learned during the first half of this season that you want to apply to the second half?

Little: That’s a good question. I think for me it’s changing my outlook on how the newer style of Truck Series racing is. When I was in the series just a handful of years ago, it was approached much differently. It was more of finish the race, be there at the end, then race hard. And you know, the first half of this season, I just was blown away by how aggressive everyone is from the start. Some of it’s consciously aggressive. Some of it’s not. And you just gotta know who falls into which category. I think for the next half of the year, it’s a simple matter of knowing that from the drop of the green flag, you just have to absolutely be on it, or else you’ll be the bug and they’ll be the windshield! (laughs)


As always a huge thank you to Jesse for taking the time to talk about this stretch of the NCWTS season. Be sure to follow him across his social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), as well as Young’s Motosports (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for all the latest news and information. 


As a life-long NASCAR fan and lover of words, I'm fortunate enough to put the two together here at The Podium Finish to bring our readers and motorsports fans news, features, and interviews from the world of wheels. Originally from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I moved westward to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University. I now reside in central North Carolina with my husband, our three boys, and our dog, Charlotte. While my heart is at the race track, I also enjoy watching baseball, as well as college football and basketball. 

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