May 18, 2010 – “The Rocket” Jesse Hockett was planning on racing close to home last weekend, but went 0 for 3 thanks to Mother Nature. Not satisfied staying at home, the Warsaw, Missouri driver struck out to run his 360 with the 410’s at Jacksonville Speedway in Illinois on Friday, and the regular 360 show at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa on Saturday. This weekend, he’ll try the same schedule he had planned last week, with Sedalia on Friday, Lake Ozark Speedway on Saturday, and XX Speedway on Sunday.
The ¼ mile oval in Jacksonville is not a horsepower track, and that played into Jesse’s hands, as he drove the JHR #77 to second in his heat, started sixth in the feature, and challenged for the lead. “We were battling our way to the front and got up to (leader) Jerrod Hull,” he says. “We were able to get by him for a couple of laps, and he ended up coming back and getting by us.”
Rain during the week yielded a tacky, yet racy racetrack. As usual, “The Rocket” made his own groove above the others. “The track was sticky all night,” says Jesse. “There was really only one little groove that got black slicked over. I was running wide open with four wheels above the cushion. Most of the other cars were running the bottom, so that made for a clear run to the front. I kind of had my own track to race on up there.”
In the end, a second place finish was a satisfying result. “It was a good showing, especially with our 360 against the 410’s,” says Jesse. “Even to be close to Jerrod Hull was a good thing. I was real happy with our performance, and we could have won if I did a couple things different.”
With a better forecast for Knoxville than Missouri, Jesse pointed the truck towards Iowa after Friday night. He had far less luck with the truck hauling the trailer than he did on the track when the turbo went out. “(Racing) was better than staying home and getting rained out, but we had some problems with the truck between Jacksonville and Knoxville,” he says. “I have to thank the Schneiderman family and Dale Oaks for his truck in getting us to Knoxville. From there, Korte Transportation got us home.”
With 360’s timing in during hot laps this year, Jesse saw an opportunity to improve his performance at the famous half-mile, and test on the tires there. Things went well, as he qualified seventh in the 35-car field. “We’ve struggled lately qualifying at Knoxville, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go up there,” he says. “We ended up timing really well considering the track conditions when we got out there. It was going away at a rapid pace, and we were by far the fastest car in our session.”
With an invert of six for the heat race, only the top four transfer. Jesse found himself finishing where he started…fifth. With the likes of Johnny Anderson, Jonathan Cornell, Jon Agan and Lee Grosz up front, it was tough to make headway. “We had a really stacked heat race it seemed,” he says. “Between the tough competition and me missing it with the car, it didn’t add up.”
The B was equally stacked, but Jesse’s qualifying time gave him a spot starting up front where he rode to a runner-up finish, and a trip to the main event. “We started second, and Dennis Moore Jr. got out in front,” he says. “He pulled away a little bit while I was trying some different lines, but we ended up closing on him at the end.”
Tire issues gave the team a few challenges on setup, and discretion was the better part of valor in getting ready for the feature. However, steady progress was made in a drive from 18th to 11th. “We couldn’t find the stagger we wanted,” says Jesse. “I had a limited supply of left rears. With the stagger issue, I didn’t see the sense in buying a brand new tire starting at the back. We made the best of what we had, and moved up to 11th.”
Jesse’s Missouri runs this weekend will come in the JHR #77 on Friday at the State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, and Sunday at the XX Speedway in California. Saturday, he will shake down the VKCC Motorsports #75. “We want to run the #75 at Lake Ozark Speedway and make sure it’s o.k.,” he explains. “When we raced last with it at Little Rock, we had some frame damage. We got it fixed, and we want to make sure we’re comfortable in it before we head to Jetmore at the end of the month.”
On the Web
To learn more about Jesse “The Rocket” Hockett, including updated results and photos, visit http://JesseHockett.com
Counting his win a week ago Sunday at Double X Speedway, Jesse has racked up 78 wins since the beginning of 2005. His win totals in those years have been 2005 (19), 2006 (13), 2007 (9), 2008 (13), 2009 (22) and two already in 2010. His three richest wins to date have been the 2008 Perris (CA) Oval Nationals worth $12,500, the 2009 East Bay (FL) Ronald Laney Memorial “King of the 360’s” worth $13,000 and the 2009 USAC Ultimate Challenge at the Southern Iowa Speedway worth $15,000.