Now With Unparalleled Support Behind Him, Jay Jay Day Rediscovering How Deep Passion for Racing Runs
By Chuck Corder
Jay Jay Day and the Pro Trucks have seemingly grown up together.
And, my how far the two have come in just five, short years at Five Flags Speedway.
The Pro Trucks class got off to an inauspicious start in 2012. That first year was lean. The fields for the Pro Trucks were so small, they raced in Super Stocks features.
Five years later, there are nearly 20 Pro Trucks every time they race on a Friday night at the famed half-mile asphalt oval.
As the class has grown, so has the 28-year-old Day. From a brash young driver to a more humble hotshoe, Day is quickly becoming one of the division’s elder statesmen.
“It’s so weird to me — I’ve always been the young guy,” Day said. “I’ve been in a truck since 2012 when there were just three of us. We were taking a risk because there were only two other trucks. I’ve seen a lot come and a lot already go.
“The trucks today are beautiful and very fast. When I got my first truck, I had to sell one of my (Pure Stocks) to get the truck, and the other (Pure Stock) to buy the motor. It’s changed a whole lot since then.”
Last time out, Day scored his first Pro Trucks feature win in Pensacola since 2013 and sits just one point out of first in the overall standings through three races. Another trip to Victory Lane or podium finish this Friday should secure the points lead.
Day and the rest of his Pro Trucks rivals have been given more incentives to put on a show Friday night. The laps are up to 40, unlike the three 30-lap features earlier this season, and the winner will take home a cool 1,000 bucks.
“That win was a huge night for us,” Day said. “I don’t enjoy running for points because it’s a lotta stress and you gotta spend a lotta money. But, this is the best truck I’ve ever had, and the best team I’ve ever had. Plus, we’ve never tried to win the points in Pensacola.”
The Faith Chapel Outlaw Stocks (35 laps) share the marquee with the Pro Trucks on the track’s annual Meet the Drivers Night. The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen (25 laps) and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks (20) round out the night’s program.
Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military and students; $5 for children ages 6 to 11; free for kids 5 and under.
While Day is always quick to give credit to his fellow Day Racing Team family members, the Theodore, Ala., native and father of two knows he owes his renewed enthusiasm to another Mobile-area family.
The Preslar Brothers have been grooming short-track drivers for years. Rick Crawford, Jerry Mullens, Stewart England and Steven Davis are just a few of the names that once drove for Tommy and “Flat-Top” Preslar.
They plucked Day to drive their late model program last year, ironically when the driver was contemplating whether or not he still had a future in the sport. Thanks to the Preslar Brothers, who also help with the Pro Trucks, Day isn’t asking those type of questions anymore.
“If they weren’t helping us this year like they are, I don’t know if I’d be racing full-time,” Day said of the Preslars. “I definitely wouldn’t be running for points.
“They want to win just as much as I do. If something goes on, they’re right there with me. To be honest, I never thought I’d drive a late model. And we had won a lotta races in trucks, but in 2014 I couldn’t keep up when the other drivers got fast. And, then, they came along and they’ve helped me tremendously.”
Day achieved his childhood dream last year when he captured a Pro Late Model 50 lapper at his home track of Mobile International Speedway, and driving the Preslar Brothers black No. 42 to Victory Lane.
After last month’s Pro Trucks win, Day is happy to be winning again in Pensacola. He dominated the Pure Stocks class along the Gulf Coast, beginning at MIS and finishing at Five Flags, a few seasons ago before making the leap to Pro Trucks.
“I’m still having fun,” Day said. “It got to a low point for a little while when I didn’t win in 2014 at all. That was a bad year for us. But I sat back, had a new son and focused a lot on spending time with him.
“Working now with the Preslar Brothers has helped bring the fun back into it for me. They’re just as competitive as I am. It ain’t just me in the shop working. The whole team’s there.”
In addition to his newfound partnership with the Preslars, what’s made Day’s season all the more special is being able to celebrate his success alongside his cousin. Johnathan Day has yet to lose this year at Pensacola’s high banks, and rides a four-race winning streak into the Pure Stocks feature Friday night.
“We’ve never really been able to cheer for each other because we were always racing against each other,” Jay Jay said. “It’s awesome being able to watch (Johnathan). He sat out for a long time, but I was telling him before the first race this year that he was going to win.”
And, who knows? By the time, Jay Jay is ready to call it quits, perhaps the next generation of the Day Racing Team will be ready to climb behind a Preslar Brothers steering wheel.
While big-sister Addison Day wants little to do with racecars, Brantley Day — all two years of him — is already giving his “old man” fits on a go-kart.
“I stand on back where I can control the throttle and reach the pedals,” Day said. “As soon as (Brantley) can reach ’em, he’ll be ready. He loves it.”