INDIANAPOLIS – Still just a high school senior, Jadon Rogers can already count himself as a six-year sprint car racing veteran.
However, the Worthington, Ind., teenager took on the bulk of the USAC trail for the first time last year. As a result, he earned himself the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year Award.
Rogers and his family-owned No. 14 team began the season picking and choosing USAC events, starting just four of the first 11 events on the schedule, but from mid-July onward, picked up the pace.
The turning point started at Indiana Sprint Week, when he picked up a ride in the Randy Edwards No. 61m and stepped in for the briefly retired Stephen Schnapf. After that, Rogers committed himself to the remainder of the schedule to earn rookie honors.
Rogers overtook season-long top rookie Anton Hernandez with seven races remaining and never relinquished the lead from there, finishing 14th overall in the final series standings.
“It was outstanding,” Rogers said. “We bought in about halfway through the year last year, really started chipping away. We didn’t really know at the beginning of the year that we were going to run for (Rookie of the Year). When we got closer to the middle of the year, we knew that if we were going to run for it, we were going to have to go hard.”
Rogers indeed finished strong, making large strides in the latter stretch of the calendar, where he earned three of his five total top-10 finishes in his last five starts, topped by a career-best finish of second at Tri-State Speedway’s Haubstadt Hustler in September.
Along the way, Rogers also notched a seventh at Gas City, Ind., a ninth at Putnamville, Ind., and a ninth and 10th at Tri-State, making him three-for-three on the year in top-10 results at Haubstadt in USAC competition.
Establishing USAC career highs in all statistical categories, Rogers was also the fastest qualifier in one of the largest fields of the year, topping 51 cars in time trials during the July 3 Bill Gardner Sprintacular at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind.
Despite that achievement, qualifying is an aspect of the racing program that Rogers is still learning, one step and one lap at a time.
“Qualifying is the hardest part,” Rogers acknowledged. “You’ve just got to make a good lap and then you’ve got to strive for an even better one on the second lap. Sometimes just cutting one good lap is a struggle. We really struggled qualifying all year and maybe that’s my fault, but we’ll keep trying harder and if we can get that better, I think we can put ourselves in a better position for success.”
Rogers splits his time racing on dirt tracks in the Midwest with time spent in the fall on the soccer field and in the winter on the basketball court, both sports in which he excels in at White River Valley High School in Switz City, Ind.
However, like many during this time of the year, Rogers has his mind set on sunny Florida.
Rogers’ destination in mind is the dirt, rather than the beach, to kick off the new season at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., during Winter Dirt Games XII.
The dawn of a new season presents new goals to strive for and a fire brewing inside him.
“I just want to get a USAC win,” Rogers noted. “I want to be able to contend in races and every time I go to the race track, I want to be one of the guys to beat.”