DOB – January 10, 2005
HOMETOWN – Galloway, Ohio
SERIES – USAC, POWERi, Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series
SPONSORS – MPV Express Inc., Rockwell Security,
– FK Rod Ends, Smith Titanium,
– Schure Built Suspensions, James Mission, DB3
It took 17-year-old Jacob Denney a mere handful of Indiana Midget Week races to get the attention of drivers and fans nationwide.
Consistent top-10 runs, including his first USAC national midget feature victory at Lincoln Park Speedway, boosted the Galloway, Ohio, driver to a third-place finish in the series standings. These results are even more impressive given he had just one previous start in USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series competition prior to Midget Week.
Winning isn’t new to the teenager.
Competing in USAC quarter midgets, Denney’s first laps were in 2011 — at age 6. In 2016, with experience at the local and regional levels, Denney moved up to national competition. He won the USAC .25 Multi-Class Dirt National title in 2018 and then the USAC .25 Multi-Class Pavement National title in 2019.
He began to think racing was more than just fun, but a possible career path. “It’s probably the best occupation you could have,” Denney said. “I don’t know what else you could do that cool.”
A senior honor student in high school, family plays an important role in Denney’s racing endeavors. His father, Jeff, a racer himself, sold his Legend Car to give Denney the opportunity to race. His mother, Jaime, takes care of travel arrangements for the team and keeps him in check at the track, “especially if something hasn’t gone right.”
Younger, sister, Jaden is his biggest fan, both at home and the track. Denney attributes much of his success to his father. “I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing right now if it wasn’t for him,” Denney said.
In 2020, driving for Chuck Taylor, Denney moved to USAC’s Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 Midgets, capturing the championship as a rookie with four feature wins. At the end of the season, friend and mentor Jerry Coons Jr. connected Denney with USAC midget owner Scott Petry.
Without expectations, Petry offered Denney a ride for a couple of POWRi Lucas Oil West Midget League races, and later at the 2021 Chili Bowl where he turned heads with a heat race win.
“It was a confidence boost for someone to put me in their car at the Chili Bowl,” Denney said.
He also added a second USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 championship to his résumé in 2021, winning seven races in-a-row in July and August.
Friend and fellow racer Chase McDermand played a major role in the next step of Denney’s career. The two competed in iRacing events together and when McDermand’s car owner, Jay Mounce, was looking for a second driver, McDermand was instrumental in getting all the parties together.
Mounce, a former driver himself, ran POWRi and MARA midgets throughout Central Illinois in the early 2000s. Together with co-owner Gavin Stout, Mounce/Stout Motorsports strives to make entry into major league midget racing affordable for young drivers.
Mounce considers his team to be “a simple mom-and-pop operation.”
Racing out of Collinsville, Okla.,, the midgets are maintained in a two-car garage and transported to the races in simple enclosed trailers. Without a corporate sponsor, Mounce admits they stretch the pennies as far as they can. Denney has a lot of confidence in the team.
“Jay’s cars are on the money and we have good stuff every time we hit the track,” Denney said. “ As long as the car’s fast, that’s all that really matters. We’re racing the car, not the trailer.”
Mounce feels Denney has “hit the ground running.” His debut with the team was in March, racing indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. A hand broken in PE class kept him out of action until the night before Indiana Midget Week, when he ran 10th at Tri-City Speedway, his first USAC national midget start.
Looking back, the highlight of midget week for Denney was obviously the victory at Lincoln Park.
“I was kind of in shock really. I couldn’t believe it,” Denney said. “To win and to win so early was just kind of unbelievable.”
One of the first to congratulate Denney in victory lane was Coons, who he raced for the lead and the win.
Coons is impressed with Denney’s driving style which he describes as “patient and calculated” and Mounce predicts a great future for his young driver.
“He can just do it all,” Mounce said. “He keeps attacking the whole race and his ability to adapt to the track changes is really impressive.”
Denney describes his approach as being more technical than just hammer down.
“On the green, I figure out how to drive the car the way it is and under caution fix it,” Denney explained.
Mounce concluded, “He was brought up in the right way. To be respectful of the people he’s working with and the equipment he’s driving.”