Jesse Iwuji

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Jesse Iwuji
Jesse Iwuji 2017 Carneros 200.jpg
Iwuji at Sonoma Raceway in 2017
Born (1987-08-12) August 12, 1987 (age 31)
Carrollton, Texas
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Navy
Years of service 2010–present
Rank Lieutenant[1]
College football career
Navy Midshipmen – No. 3
Position Free safety
Major General science
Career history
College
Bowl games 2008 EagleBank Bowl
High school Hebron (Texas)
Personal information
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight 182 lb (83 kg)
ARCA Racing Series career
Debut season 2018
Current team Patriot Motorsports Group
Car no. 34
Engine Chevrolet
K&N Pro Series West career
Debut season 2015
Current team Patriot Motorsports Group
Car no. 36, 40
Engine Chevrolet
Crew chief Joe Ransom
Starts 36
Championships 0
Wins 0
Poles 0
Best finish 10th in 2016
Finished last season 14th (2017)
Previous series
2017
2016
2015
K&N Pro Series East
NAPA Big 5 Late Model Series
Whelen All-American Series
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Truck no., team No. 34 (Reaume Brothers Racing)
First race 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 250 (Mosport)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
Statistics current as of August 26, 2018.

Jesse Ekene Iwuji (/iˈwi/ ee-WOO-jee;[1] born August 12, 1987) is an American professional stock car racing driver and officer in the United States Navy Reserve. He currently competes in four racing series: the ARCA Racing Series in the Nos. 34 and 9, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West in the Nos. 36, 21, and 40, and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the No. 34.

Iwuji attended the United States Naval Academy, where he joined the school's college football and track and field teams; on the former, he was a free safety for the Navy Midshipmen. He graduated from the academy in 2010 and entered the United States Navy as a surface warfare officer, in which he served on the Mine Countermeasures ship Exultant and USS Comstock. After seven years on active duty, Iwuji transitioned to the Navy Reserve.

As a sailor and driver, Iwuji has served as an ambassador for both the military and NASCAR communities. In addition to supporting military philanthropic groups, he is also involved in various NASCAR events supporting the armed forces and veterans.

Early life and military career[edit]

Iwuji attended Hebron High School, where he was a letterman twice in football and three times in track.[2] On the football team, he was a two-star recruit.[3] During his junior year of high school, Iwuji was contacted by the Naval Academy and was offered a scholarship to the school.[4][1] In addition to continuing his football career at Hebron (where he was named first-team all-district in his senior year),[2] he attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School before heading to the Naval Academy.[1] He formally enrolled at the Academy on June 30, 2005.[3]

Although he played linebacker in high school, he was a free safety on the Navy football team.[1] He played on special teams during his freshman year in 2006 before starting two games at safety in 2007, but missed six games during the latter due to ankle injury. In 2008, he played in the Army–Navy Game and the EagleBank Bowl. Iwuji was a backup to Kwesi Mitchell in 2009,[2] though he saw action at strong safety in the season opener against the Ohio State Buckeyes due to Emmett Merchant's injury.[5] Iwuji also competed on the track and field team,[4] where he ran the 60-meter, 100-meter, and 200-meter dashes in addition to the 4 × 100-meter relay.[6]

Iwuji graduated in 2010 as a Bachelor of Science and became a surface warfare officer.[4] After working as a football coach at the Naval Academy Preparatory School, he entered active service.[7] Iwuji worked in mine countermeasures with Mine Countermeasures Crew Exultant and was deployed to Bahrain in 2012.[1] He was later deployed on the USS Comstock, a ship whose name would later appear on a NASCAR Xfinity Series car when it was featured on Darrell Wallace Jr.'s No. 6 Ford Mustang in 2016.[8] In May 2017, he moved to the Navy Reserve.[9][10] He is currently stationed in Ventura, California.[11]

Racing career[edit]

Iwuji (No. 36) prior to the 2017 Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway

While attending the Naval Academy, Iwuji first expressed interest in motorsports when the Midshipmen visited the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina before the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl, during which the players rode around the track.[12] During his senior year, he started drag racing at Capitol Speedway in Crofton, Maryland, driving a Chrysler 300.[7] After his graduation, he raced a Dodge Challenger.[1] Four years later, he participated in the Mojave Mile speed trial; for the event, he upgraded his Challenger's engine to a horsepower of 1,100. With the new engine, Iwuji ran at a speed of 200.9 miles per hour (323.3 km/h), becoming the fifth modern Mopar driver to accomplish the feat at the Mojave Mile.[13] Afterwards, he joined the Naval Postgraduate School staff in southern California,[7] where he was involved in road racing – driving a Chevrolet Corvette – before making the transition to stock cars.[14]

In 2014, Iwuji tested a stock car for Performance P-1 Motorsports at Irwindale Speedway.[15] A year later, he began racing for the team after returning from deployment in the Persian Gulf.[10] He first competed in the Whelen All-American Series, finishing 15th in his debut.[7] He also made two K&N Pro Series West starts that year at Evergreen Speedway, but did not start the race. He later ran the race at Meridian Speedway, finishing 23rd after a crash.[16] In the winter, he ran 34 dirt track races, one of which included a fifth-place finish in a Winged 500cc Outlaw Kart A-main.[17]

Iwuji started competing full-time in the K&N Pro Series West in 2016, driving the No. 36 for Patriot Motorsports Group.[15] That year, he was named to the "Mighty 25: Veterans poised for impact in 2016" list by military website We Are The Mighty.[18] He recorded a best finish of tenth at Orange Show Speedway.[19] At the Utah Motorsports Campus race, he earned the Move of the Race Award,[20] which is given to the driver who gains the most positions in a race.[21] During the year, he also competed in the NAPA Big 5 Late Model Series at Meridian Speedway.[17] Iwuji battled with Todd Gilliland and Salvatore Iovino for the K&N Pro Series West's 2016 Most Popular Driver Award, but lost to Iovino.[22] He finished the season tenth in the final point standings and sixth the rookie standings.[10] In February 2017, Iwuji was awarded the NASCAR Diverse Driver Award, which is given to a minority/female driver who "exemplifies outstanding performance both on and off the race track in encouraging awareness and interaction with NASCAR and motorsports".[23]

Prior to the 2017 season, Iwuji became Patriot Motorsports Group's primary owner, while former National Football League linebacker Shawne Merriman partnered with the team to serve as owner of the No. 36 car. The two met during a fashion show in Los Angeles promoting Merriman's new clothing line; Merriman, a longtime motorsports fan, agreed to join PMG.[9] Over the course of the season, Iwuji continued to race Outlaw Karts to develop his racing ability on both dirt and asphalt.[24] In February, he ran his first K&N Pro Series East race in the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway,[25] in which he finished 21st.[26]

In February 2018, Iwuji tested an ARCA Racing Series car for PMG at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for his series debut in the Lucas Oil 200. For the 2018 season, he intends to focus on competing in ARCA, particularly the larger tracks, in addition to running sporadic K&N East and West races.[11] In August, Reaume Brothers Racing announced Iwuji would make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the team's No. 34 Chevrolet Silverado.[27] After starting 31st, he finished 25th.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Iwuji is of Igbo descent, an ethnic group of people in Nigeria.[5] His parents, Sebastian and Enderline, immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.[28] Enderline was a track runner in Nigeria, while daughter Emenderlyn ran track for Arkansas State. Like Iwuji, younger brothers Justin and Bryan played football, though at Texas State as a safety and linebacker, respectively; Justin had also been recruited to play quarterback for the Naval Academy Preparatory School before electing to attend Texas State. While Iwuji and his siblings are born in the United States, they hold Nigerian citizenship.[29] As of 2017, Iwuji is one of three African-American drivers actively competing in a NASCAR series along with Wallace and Pro Series East driver Jay Beasley.[30]

He is involved in various philanthropic and military-related activities. Iwuji is the racing ambassador for the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, a group formed after the September 11 attacks to support wounded soldiers.[31] "We dedicate each race weekend to a wounded veteran and his family," Iwuji stated. "The effort has been widely supported by race officials and others. It's an opportunity for everyone to give back to the people who've made a sacrifice on their behalf."[7] In March 2016, he drove Darrian Nordstrom, a four-year-old boy with terminal cancer in a two-seat stock car.[32] In May, he served as a host for a veteran's family prior to the Coca-Cola 600;[33] as part of the NASCAR Salutes program, which honors United States military personnel, he was a guest co-host of NASCAR.com's GarageCam series.[34]

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Camping World Truck Series[edit]

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 NCWTC Pts Ref
2018 Reaume Brothers Racing 34 Chevy DAY ATL LVS MAR DOV KAN CLT TEX IOW GTW CHI KEN ELD POC MCH BRI MSP
25
LVS TAL MAR TEX PHO HOM -* -* [35]

K&N Pro Series West[edit]

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 NKNPSWC Pts Ref
2015 Patriot Motorsports Group 36 Ford KER IRW TUS IOW SHA SON SLS IOW EVG
18
CNS MER
23
37th 65 [36]
Toyota AAS
DNQ
PHO
2016 Chevy IRW
20
SON
15
IOW
12
EVG
15
UMC
13
UMC
12
MER
18
AAS
16
10th 404 [37]
Toyota KCR
14
TUS
15
OSS
10
CNS
16
SLN
18
DCS
18
2017 Chevy TUS
20
KCR
16
IRW
21
SON
31
14th 358 [38]
Toyota IRW
18
SPO
15
OSS
14
CNS
14
IOW
31
EVG
17
DCS
13
MER
13
AAS
19
KCR
16
2018 Chevy KCR
23
TUS
14
TUS
17
OSS
14
CNS * * [39]
Norman Levin Racing 40 Chevy SON
15
DCS
21 IOW
25
EVG GTW LVS MER AAS KCR

K&N Pro Series East[edit]

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 NKNPSEC Pts Ref
2017 Patriot Motorsports Group 36 Chevy NSM
21
GRE BRI SBO SBO MEM BLN TMP 29th 62 [40]
Toyota NHA
18
IOW WGI LGY NJE DOV
2018 Chevy NSM
22
* * [41]
Toyota BRI
27
LGY SBO SBO MEM NJM THO NHA IOW GLN GTW NHA DOV

ARCA Racing Series[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

ARCA Racing Series results
Year Team No. Make 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 ARSC Pts Ref
2018 Patriot Motorsports Group 34 Chevy DAY
36
NSH SLM TAL
15
TOL CLT
26
POC
24
MCH
24
MAD GTW KAN * * [42]
Max Force Racing 9 Ford CHI
25
IOW ELK POC ISF BLN DSF IRP SLM

* Season still in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Myers, Meghann (June 14, 2015). "Naval Academy SWO races to break into pro NASCAR". The Navy Times. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Jesse Iwuji". Navy Midshipmen. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Jesse Iwuji". 247Sports.com. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Fryson, Sydnel (July 13, 2016). "West Meets East: Iwuji Takes on Daytona". NASCAR Home Tracks. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "2009 NAVY FOOTBALL GAME 3: AT PITT" (PDF). CBS Sports Network. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  6. ^ "2006-07 TOP-INDOOR MARKS" (PDF). CBS Sports Network. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Carroll, Ward (June 24, 2015). "Navy officer feels the need for NASCAR speed". We Are The Mighty. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  8. ^ Valade, Jodie (June 30, 2016). "WITH XFINITY SERIES' MILITARY TRIBUTE, WALLACE, IWUJI SHARE BOND". NASCAR. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Bonkowski, Jerry (February 17, 2017). "Ex-NFL star Shawne Merriman, racer Jesse Iwuji team up in NASCAR K&N effort". NBC Sports. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c Pell, Samantha (November 2, 2017). "It all started with Texas high school football for Navy veteran and rising NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji". SportsDay. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Navy Officer, Midshipman, rookie Jesse Iwuji preps for Daytona debut with a "Patriot"". ARCA Racing Series. January 19, 2018. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Wagner, Bill (September 6, 2018). "Former Navy football player Jesse Iwuji on NASCAR circuit". Capital Gazette. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "What It takes to Run 200 mph in a Challenger". Hot Rod. January 23, 2014. Archived from the original on May 15, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  14. ^ "Interview". Roadtrip Nation. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Haverlin, John (December 21, 2016). "Getting to Know Lt. Jesse Iwuji of the K&N Pro Series West". Popular Speed. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  16. ^ "2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  17. ^ a b "Jesse Iwuji announces 2016 race schedule". Catchfence. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  18. ^ "The Mighty 25: Veterans poised for impact in 2016". We Are The Mighty. December 28, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  19. ^ "2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 6, 2017.
  20. ^ "NKNPS West Utah 9/11/16 Results". NASCAR Home Tracks. Archived from the original on 2016-09-16. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  21. ^ Franceschini, Brooke (April 26, 2016). "K&N Pro East News & Notes: VIR". NASCAR Home Tracks. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved January 27, 2017. Four different drivers have collected the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award for advancing the most positions.
  22. ^ "Six Drivers Earn Most Popular Driver Awards". NASCAR Home Tracks. November 23, 2016. Archived from the original on 2017-02-02. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  23. ^ "Diversity Awards Spotlights Industry Efforts". NASCAR Home Tracks. February 23, 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-03-15. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  24. ^ "VIDEO: Jesse Iwuji Is Expanding His Horizons". National Speed Sport News. March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  25. ^ Modestino, Lou (February 15, 2017). "K and N Pro Series East News and Notes: New Smyrna". Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  26. ^ "2017 Jet Tools 150". Racing-Reference. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  27. ^ Fraley, Gerry (August 20, 2018). "Carrollton's Iwuji steps up to NASCAR trucks series". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
  28. ^ "Oscar Mike: S1:E5 Stock Car Racing". go90. December 13, 2016. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  29. ^ Tropea, Gabby (October 31, 2013). "Beyond the game: Justin Iwuji". University Star. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  30. ^ Butler, Andreas (January 23, 2017). "NASCAR driver Jesse Iwuji gives pep talk to kids at Dickerson Center". Daytona Times. Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  31. ^ "Navy Veteran Jesse Iwuji To Represent The Phoenix Patriot Foundation As NASCAR Racing Ambassador". PR Newswire. June 29, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  32. ^ Murto, Craig (March 30, 2016). "Craig Murto: A racer can give back w/photo". The Northern Virginia Daily. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  33. ^ "Jesse Iwuji to Host Military Family At NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600". K&N Engineering. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  34. ^ "NAVY OFFICER, NASCAR DRIVER TO CO-HOST SPECIAL GARAGECAM SEGMENT". NASCAR. May 25, 2016. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  35. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Results". Racing-Reference. NASCAR Digital Media, LLC. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  36. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  37. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved February 11, 2017.
  38. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  39. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
  40. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  41. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  42. ^ "Jesse Iwuji – 2018 ARCA Racing Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved February 10, 2018.

External links[edit]