By KEN BRUCE
A late season trial run has helped land Jordan Watson a full-time seat for 2023 racing season.
Watson has been named as driver of the Dan Sommeling No. 51 for 2023. Watson took over the ride for some late season races after the team parted ways with Richie Pratt Jr and had some very good runs. The end results weren’t what the team was looking for due to a couple of badly times flat tires but they did show the speed needed to finish up front.
In 2023, the newly formed team will be looking to build on their late season success as Watson will wheel the No. 51 from the beginning.
“We ran three races at the end of last year and I thought we had the potential to snag a win,” said Watson. “We were running top five in the race at Delaware International and running the leader down and got a flat and at Georgetown we ran good after working a couple of bugs out of the car and had a couple of shots at (Danny) Bouc there at the end and the team was happy with that. Then we finished off the year at BAPS and got a heat win there and were going pretty good after drawing a bad pill and then we got a flat tire there also. We had the speed and just needed to get a little luck on our side.
“After the BAPS race we all sat down to see what we needed to do to get better and go forward in 2023. They have been super good to work with and have pretty much put the ball in my court and have allowed me to make some decisions. They have a really good group of guys and I have a great crew and we will work together to make sure we are ready to go.”
It is a little bit of a distance from where Watson calls home in Milford, Del., to the team’s shop in Franklinville, N.J., but Watson is happy to make the drive to make the new combination as successful as possible.
“It is about a two-hour drive from my place to their shop,” mentioned Watson. “We have been going up once or twice a week. There are some days with my work schedule that I can get off a little easier than my guys can so I can drive up in the morning and work most of the days there and then come back home. It has been a total team effort from our side and their side. Thankfully I have a wife who is into racing and my little boy is into it and he gets to spend a lot of time with me. He hangs out with me in my shop and goes to New Jersey with me when I go up to work on the cars.”
The newly formed combination will make their 2023 debut in February when they travel to All-Tech Speedway to take part in the Short Track Super Series “Sunshine Swing” and Watson is looking forward to getting the season going with the new team.
“We are really looking forward to getting to Florida in a couple of weeks to get some racing and see where we are with everything,” explained Watson. “From a preparation standpoint, I think we are all working very hard to make it work.”
Dan Sommeling who owns the No. 51 race team has been around for years and has had some very big name drivers aboard his Modifieds and Watson is looking to continue their success.
“Danny has been awesome to work with and I am super thankful for this opportunity,” said Watson. “Last year I had a deal driving for Brent Hall for the last four or five years and it really helped me out plus having my own equipment there and we attempted to go spec racing last year then he had some stuff happen with his business and he had to step back. He offered me a good deal to buy a car, a motor and trailer so at that point we had to sell all of our spec motors that we had been running at Bridgeport to keep the Delaware stuff going. Lucky for me, Danny came to me late last year and asked me if I would want to do some spec racing and it worked out good.”
It will be a busy 2023 for Watson who still has his own No. 1J team in his shop and will have ample opportunities to race this season along with a full schedule in the No. 51.
“We sat down over the winter to come up with a schedule that works for both teams,” explained Watson. They are super understanding; they know that I still have some of my own stuff. I am going to run the races at Delaware International with my own car and my sponsors who always have helped me out and Danny is even willing to help me out there. At Georgetown we will probably mix in both cars there and I will be running the spec stuff full-time at Bridgeport. If that goes well, you will probably see us showing up at some other shows but to start out we just want to concentrate on Bridgeport.”
“I think we have a great group of people that are working together for the same goal. Last Saturday we had a whole bunch of people up at their shop trying to get two cars ready to go to Florida and then get another car ready for the Bridgeport opener. We are trying to get ourselves in a position where we can work through the bugs and get running good and get some wins. When we get back from Florida, we will sit down again with each other and see what we want to do other than Bridgeport. I know they want to do the Deyo stuff and who knows, maybe we will surprise some people and show up at a couple of other races. We are looking ahead to a fun summer.”
Of course, to do a schedule like they project takes a lot of equipment and Watson says the team does not lack in that department.
“We have a couple of spec motors and some open small blocks that Billy the Kid built,” explained Watson. “Right now they have two cars (Bicknell Chassis), and have just purchased one which will be the car we put together for Bridgeport when we get back from Florida. Like I said this is a great opportunity for me, they have some great sponsors and I am looking forward to getting to Florida and showing the people what we have been working on.”