Jordan Jackowiak didn’t expect to finish in third place in the points standings in the Late Model series at Sycamore Speedway last season.
He was just 20, had only raced for a year and didn’t have the experience of many of the other drivers. The Somonauk High graduate played hockey until he was 16 and raced a spectator car for half a season three years later. His memories of Sycamore Speedway are a two-year stretch when was 7, watching from the stands as his dad, Paul, raced two seasons.
“I raced spectator for a half a season and then my dad ended up building the [late model] car and I just ended up racing it,” Jordan said. “Now it’s in my system, can’t get it out.”
And the now-21-year-old can’t get out of the winner’s circle, either.
Jackowiak entered today atop the Sycamore Speedway standings in the Late Model series with 100 points – more than halfway to his 184-point total from last season – and leading Elgin’s Danny Allen by a slim five-point margin.
“I just wanted to go out there and turn some laps and see how things went,” Jackowiak said of last season’s performance. “Last year I kept creeping up the standings and finally I was third in points my first year in this car.”
Despite his age and rookie success, Jackowiak has found a welcoming atmosphere among the older, more experienced drivers at the speedway. He feels it’s allowed him to settle in as a driver and build on his talent.
“It’s kind of weird. They’re cool about it, trying to give you pointers and stuff,” Jackowiak said. “They’ve seen so many people come and go on the track, they try to help you out – try driving it like this or try doing that.”
It’s similar advice to that of Jackowiak’s crew chief, James Karns. They have been friends since high school, and like Jackowiak, Karns got hooked on cars by working on them together. Karns often will scout some earlier races and study how the drivers handle the track, then go over strategy with Jackowiak.
“I’d probably say just watching him going around the track, I can see what he’s not doing right and give him a little pointer – try breaking a little sooner or try driving it a little harder,” Karns said. “Watching other guys qualify I kind of get some insight in how they’re doing and, all right, try running the high side or try running the low side.”
The driver-crew chief relationship has worked well for both, and the run of success has Jackowiak thinking about the next step on his racing journey. He would like to move up to the Super Late Model series and race at Sycamore and LaSalle Speedway.
For now, he’s just happy to keep finishing races and see his name at the top of the points.
“Hopefully,” he said, “it stays that way the rest of the year.”