Most UNC Charlotte students are already plenty busy with class, keeping up with assignments and even working a part-time job. However, for one member of Niner Nation, that part-time job is being a NASCAR driver.
Jesse Little has been racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series since his freshman year at Charlotte in 2016. While taking classes full-time during his first two years in school, Little made 18 starts for his uncle’s family-owned team. At the beginning of the 2018 season, Little started taking classes part-time and increased the number of races to nine per season.
Fast forwarding to the end of 2019, Little announced he would be making the jump to the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Johnny Davis Motorsports with Gary Keller full-time for 2020.
“The deal started coming together around late July,” said Little. “I met with [the team owner] Johnny Davis and felt good about going to drive for his team because it reminds me a lot of how my uncle’s team was run.”
Little now follows in the footsteps of his dad, Chad Little, who ran in the Xfinity Series for nine years. His father scored six wins, 27 top-fives and 44 top-10s.
“My dad has been a big influence throughout my career, especially in how I conduct myself at the track working with sponsors and team owners,” said Little. “He also currently works as the managing director of technical inspection and officiating for NASCAR so he helps me understand the rule changes and procedures around the sport.”
His dad also has degrees in marketing and law which is why he has been a big advocate for Jesse to get an education.
“Going full-time racing will definitely be tough because I want to commit myself 100 percent to racing and 100 percent to school,” said Little. “I’ve definitely been having to do a lot of time management with balancing school work when I’m not at the race shop or the track. It’s something I not only want to do for my dad but for myself as well.”
This will be Little’s first full-time NASCAR ride since 2014 when he ran 14 races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Little says he expects to run about 45 races in the 2020 NASCAR season between both the Xfinity and Truck Series. He will still be taking classes throughout the racing season.
Little currently plans to graduate in the fall of 2020 with a degree in Management Information Systems. His first race of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series will be the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway.