Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway will see a new face. On Tuesday, Jesse Little announced he would be making his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in the race, driving the #7 for Premium Motorsports on a one-race contract.
“I’m very humbled by this opportunity to make my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Kentucky,” Little said in a press release. “There’s no expectations for Saturday night’s race other than to take the green flag and see the checkered flag. I would like to thank Jay Robinson for giving me the opportunity to gain valuable experience behind the wheel.”
Little currently competes part-time in the Camping World Truck Series for family-owned JJL Motorsports. In five races so far in 2018, he has top-ten finishes in four. His latest start, the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park in late June, ended with a seventh-place finish. He began racing in the series in 2015, recording 18 total starts.
The son of former Cup veteran Chad Little, his first start in a NASCAR-sanctioned series occurred in 2012 when he began competing in the K&N Pro Series East; at the age of 15, he was the youngest driver to run a race in the series. He eventually upgraded to a full-time K&N East slate in 2013 and 2014, recording top-ten points finishes in both years. In 49 career K&N East races, he has two wins and 24 top tens. He has also finished in the top ten in all four K&N Pro Series West starts in 2013 and 2014. Little was named to the NASCAR Next program in 2014 and 2015.
In 2018, Premium has fielded two cars for much of the season. The #15, mostly driven by Ross Chastain, has appeared in every race (including starts as the #7) and sits thirty-second in owner’s points. The #55, which was rebranded to the #7 starting at Michigan International Speedway, is thirty-eighth; Jeffrey Earnhardt piloted the car to an eleventh-place finish in its latest start at Daytona International Speedway.
Although Little has never raced at Kentucky at the national or feeder levels, he sees it as a solid track to expose himself to Cup racing.
“[Kentucky’s] an opportunity for me to gain experience and seat time in the Cup Series and I’m looking forward to driving for Premium and working with crew chief Todd Parrott,” he stated.