When you look at the entry list for this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series LS Tractor 200 at Phoenix Raceway, your eyes will probably be drawn to the 39 entries that will compete for the for 36 available spots in the field. Or, perhaps, the return of Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski to the Xfinity Series for the first time in 2020, or maybe your looking at the crop of younger drivers, driving for underfunded teams that are rooting and gouging for the 12th and final position in the playoff field.
One thing you may not have noticed on the entry list, though: a certain nineteen-year old from LaSalle Colorado, making his way onto the NASCAR National Series scene. Kody Vanderwal will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend at Phoenix Raceway in the No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro for Jimmy Means Racing, one of the longest running NASCAR teams in the garage.
Vanderwal, a two-time ARCA Menard’s Series West (previously K&N Pro Series West) winner, made the decision to make this large career step, when he received a phone call from Jimmy Means Racing late in 2019, seeing if he would be interested in driving for Jimmy Means Racing for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Season.
“I wasn’t sure if I would ever get the chance to race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but I jumped at the chance when I got the call,” explained Vanderwal. “I’m excited to show the team [Jimmy Means Racing] and my fellow competitors what I am capable of.”
Brett Bodine, NASCAR’s Director of Competition, approved Vanderwal to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut at Phoenix Raceway after sitting out the first three races of the year at Daytona, Atlanta & Auto Club Speedway, three tracks known for their respective difficulty.
In 35 ARCA Menards Series West Starts for various race teams, Vanderwal has accumulated two career wins, sweeping the 2018 Port of Tucson Twin 100’s at Tucson Speedway, driving for John Wood, defeating ARCA West Series giants like Bill McAnally Racing and Sunrise Ford Racing.
Vanderwal has also accumulated eight top-five finishes and eighteen top-ten finishes in his two and a half seasons in the ARCA West Series, with a best points finish of 7th in 2018.
Despite finding success, Vanderwal has had his fair share of struggles throughout his career as well.
Just last season, Levin Racing (the team Vanderwal had been driving for in the ARCA West series, closed it’s doors, seven races into the fourteen race season, leaving Vanderwal sitting seventh in points, with a top-five points finish in sight, scrambling to try and find a ride for the series’ remaining seven races, to no avail, relegating Vanderwal to a eleventh place points finish, in what looked like a very promising season.
Vanderwal started his racing career at the age of eleven, driving full-bodied stock cars in enduro races on dirt at I-76 Speedway (Fort Morgan, Colorado). At the age of fourteen, Vanderwal moved to the asphalt in in the Pure Stock Division at Colorado National Speedway (Dacono, Colorado), where he went on to win in four different divisions earning a Pro Truck Championship at Colorado National Speedway in 2019.
“This is all that I ever wanted to do,” exclaimed Vanderwal. “It continues to be the result of a lot of hard work and many people working together to financially make this possible. I hope to keep racing as long as I receive the support that I need to do this.”
Vanderwal will contest the remainder of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season for Jimmy Means Racing, in the No. 52 Chevrolet Camaro. J.J. Yeley ran the first three races of the season for Means Motorsports, placing the No. 52 machine 20th in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Owners Standings, eliminating any added pressure of having to fight just to make the race. Instead the young driver can focus on making their first start.
You can see Vanderwal on track for his NASCAR Xfinity Series Debut this weekend at Phoenix Raceway driving the No. 52 for Means Motorsports, on Saturday, March 7th @ 4:00PM/EST (1:00PM/PST) on Fox Sports 1. For more information on Kody Vanderwal, and continuous updates throughout the season, you can visit kodyvanderwal.com or follow him on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter