By Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPEEDWAY, IN-Jadon Rogers ascended to the rank of first-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature winner during the 2022 season.
Now, in 2023, the Worthington, Ind. native and 2020 series Rookie of the Year becomes a hired gun as the wheelman of the Baldwin-Fox Racing No. 5 entering the USAC racing season, which begins in Florida with a full week of action in mid-February.
The 20-year-old Rogers put together his best USAC season yet in 2022, amassing 36 feature starts and a single win during September’s Haubstadt Hustler at Tri-State Speedway to go along with three top-fives and 16 top-tens en route to a ninth place finish in the standings, all career highs.
Rogers now takes over the reins of the orange No. 5 out of the Baldwin-Fox stable, which has been among USAC’s most enduring and successful teams over the past decade-plus, accumulating a 2017 USAC National Sprint Car title with Chris Windom, plus multiple Indiana Sprint Week crowns and, most recently, an Eastern Storm championship in 2022 with Logan Seavey.
It’s a ride that Rogers has competed against on the regular and has even driven on occasion in recent seasons, debuting with Baldwin-Fox at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway during a local weekly show in April of 2021. After competing full-time for the Engler Family during the past year, the opportunity to race for the Baldwin-Fox team is one that Rogers relishes and is eager to succeed in this year.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Rogers exclaimed. “I’m pretty pumped for this opportunity. We’re going into the season starting fresh and starting to get things rolling now and I’m excited to see what we can do in 2023.”
Despite the changes in addresses, team owners, colors and car numbers, Rogers’ core crew of his father, Kyle Rogers, and set-up man Jeremy Ottinger remain the same as they will be on hand to prepare the Baldwin-Fox machine, and already have been doing so as Jadon regularly commutes back and forth to between his Worthington, Ind. home and Baldwin’s Lafayette, Ind. shop in order to make sure he has everything in place to start the season out strong right out of the box.
“I’ve been up there a lot,” Jadon acknowledges. “Jeremy and my dad have been up there multiple Saturday’s with me just getting stuff ready. It’s a big step for me because I told the guys that I need to be all-in. I didn’t know motor maintenance and I didn’t know how to square a rearend all by myself. That’s all stuff that I’ve been learning and stuff I need to know in order to do this right.”
After several close calls, Rogers earned his first career USAC feature victory late during the 2022 season in dramatic fashion over Kevin Thomas Jr. and Kyle Cummins following several near misses. It was quite the turnaround for Rogers who, admittedly, struggled to start out last season. But after a sluggish start, the ball began to roll in their favor by midsummer as he once again began knock on the door of victory lane.
Despite just hitting his twenties, Rogers will be entering his ninth year of sprint car racing. At the age of 13 in 2015, Rogers was named the Hoosier Auto Racing Fans Billy Marvel Jr. Rookie of the Year for his standout performances on the local sprint car level in Indiana.
It’s been quite a road to get to this point in his career. Jadon’s father competed in stock cars near their southwestern central Indiana home. When young Jadon came along, the chance to go quarter midget racing caught his father’s eye, essentially saying that ‘it looked fun, so let’s go do it.’ It was a very similar story a few years later when father and son jumped in with both feet at the change to go micro sprint racing, and eventually, into sprint cars.
What Jadon is most proud of to this day is the fact that this whole experience was built from nearly scratch between he, his father and his crew, the behind-the-scenes things that others don’t necessarily witness firsthand in order to make Jadon’s racing dreams become a reality.
“I think the biggest thing I look at with my crew and my guys is the stuff nobody sees,” Jadon explained. “Our stuff was built from the ground up, from my set up book to everything else that we’ve done. When we first started, I didn’t have a driver teaching me how to drive a sprint car and I didn’t have a crew chief that’s won multiple USAC races. What we were able to accomplish last year was based off what we’ve learned from when we came into sprint car racing, and what we’ve built has come from the ground up, so that first win was very rewarding not only for myself, but also for my dad and how hard he’s worked. How we came together is really special.”
Jadon Rogers and the Baldwin-Fox Racing team begin their quest of the 2023 USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship with a full week in Florida during the month of February, starting with a pair of non-points, special events at Volusia Speedway Park on February 13-14, followed by the first three points races of the year at Bubba Raceway Park on February 16-17-18.