SARNIA, ON – Delaware Speedway regular Jaden Chapman could perhaps enter this weekend’s Canadian Short Track Nationals as one of the biggest underdogs on the near 70-team entry list.
However, no matter the odds, Chapman’s belief in himself and his family-run operation is undeterred.
“We’re expecting to fly under the radar when we unload on Friday,” says Chapman with a laugh. “That doesn’t bother me at all, to be honest. Whether or not people know who we are at the beginning of the weekend isn’t going to have any impact on how quick we are when we hit the track.”
While Chapman might be somewhat of an unknown commodity on a wider provincial scale, he has worked quickly to make a name for himself in weekly action at Delaware.
As of this weekend, the Sarnia, ON hot-shoe sits 5th in Delaware’s Pro Late Model points standings, and it was a victory in the Delaware Speedway qualifier event in July that granted Chapman his guaranteed provisional starting spot in Saturday’s 250-lap main event.
“We really have had an incredible year so far with the gains that we’ve made on this car,” notes Chapman. “I take an immense amount of how far this team has come in a short amount of time.”
“It’s alright if the fans don’t know who I am when they get to the speedway on Friday – I just hope they remember my name when they’re on their way out after Saturday’s feature.”
The $75,000-to-win race will mark a number of milestones for Chapman. Most notably, the largest purse and the longest race the up-and-comer has ever been a part of.
“You’re brought up in short track racing to think that races like these just doesn’t come along anymore,” admits Chapman. “It’s awesome to be preparing for this event, knowing that we’re locked into a starting spot for Saturday.”
“No matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished before, there’s a pretty solid chance that Saturday will be a career-maker for whoever wins. We’re coming with a car that we trust and I’m surrounded by a team of people that I’d put up against any other group in the pits. I’m counting the hours until we unload.”
When asked if his team has a set strategy for Saturday’s extended-distance event, Chapman opines that he sees those left out front at the end to be the drivers that can show discipline through the race’s critical middle stages.
“There are consequences any time you take your car out of the trailer at the speedway – but it seems like those consequences are magnified in a race like this at a track as big and fast as Jukasa,” says the sophomore. “If you don’t know how to have discipline you’re probably going to be in for a rough and expensive day. That’s what we need to remember.”
“I think the guys out front at the end are the ones that will have made it through that ‘give and take’ period early on,” adds Chapman. “This is going to be the toughest field most of us might ever ever with. But, if you get to pushing and shoving out there, you’ll probably end up watching from the infield.”
“We’re coming with a car that I feel really comfortable in. Our team is ready to fight for our spot and show just what we’re capable of. This is the biggest race of our season – and it might go down as the biggest race of my career. We’re not taking it lightly, that’s for sure.”