Clayton Fights His Way To A Pensacola Podium


Jacob Clayton (17) battles Darryl Rudd during Friday's Pro Truck feature at Five Flags Speedway. (Jason Reasin photo)

PENSACOLA, Fla. – In his first visit to historic Five Flags Speedway, Jacob Clayton notched his third straight top-five finish Friday night in his Grant Thompson Racing Pro Truck.

Clayton came home third in a caution-free 25-lap feature at the half-mile paved oval, continuing to progress and patiently fighting his way through traffic along the way.

The 13-year-old from Smith Station, Ala., started the program by checking off two more personal goals, leading practice with a time of 18.907 seconds before racing to the win in his six-lap heat race prior to the main event.

Clayton started from the pole in his heat and never looked back, reaching the finish line .466 seconds ahead of Darryl Rudd. However, a five inversion draw after the preliminary action put Clayton on the third row of the feature lineup, meaning he’d have to work his way forward over the course of 25 laps.

It took until the second half of the main, but Clayton was able to dig his heels in and begin advancing positions during the closing stages. He took fourth from Cody McCawley with eight laps left, setting his sights on Rudd for a podium position as time ticked down.

Clayton set up a run down the frontstretch coming to two to go, before he dove inside of Rudd and completed the pass off of turn two.

From there, Clayton maintained position to the checkered flag, finishing 5.4 seconds behind a dominant Treyce Capers but less than a second away from runner-up Brandon Burks.

The teenager was pleased with his overall performance, even though he felt like his truck had enough speed to contend with the top two had a caution come out and allowed him to close the gap.

“Starting fifth after the dice roll wasn’t really what we needed; our truck was great out front in the heat race, but I know I still have some work to do when it comes to making passes,” noted Clayton. “I think it was solid for my third Pro Truck race. I made up a few positions and feel like I learned a lot about the track as well. We just lost too much time early. Had we had a yellow, I think I could have challenged more.

“I kept trying to set up moves down into [turns] one and two, and it took until late in the race before things worked out, but all in all it was definitely a win for me with where I’m at in this process and I’m looking forward to getting more track time heading into the summer.”

Clayton would like to thank Supreme Lending Headquarters, American National Insurance, First Choice Painting, Grant Thompson Racing, Grant and John Thompson, Midwest Suspension Co., Race Face Digital, the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, Modern Images, JackArse Rentals, Swift Springs, and Elite Performance Industries for their partnership and support.

Clayton’s next scheduled Pro Truck start with Grant Thompson Racing is Saturday, April 27, back in his home state at Mobile (Ala.) Int’l Speedway.

About Jacob Clayton

Jacob Clayton is a 13-year-old, second-generation driver from Smith Station, Ala., who began his racing career in 2021 in quarter midgets and has competed fulltime at the grassroots level over the past three years. His accolades include 15 overall victories, multiple top-10 finishes in national points with the NASCAR Youth Series (formerly the USAC .25 Series), and time in three senior quarter midget classes.

For 2024, Clayton has made the move into full-bodied cars, running a Pro Truck for Grant Thompson Racing at Mobile Int’l Speedway in his home state. The team also has its eyes on competing in races at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., the home of the famed Snowball Derby super late model classic.

Off the track, Clayton is a staunch supporter of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation’s fight against pediatric cancer, as well as a soccer lover and avid iRacer as he continues to hone his various skillsets.

For more information on Jacob Clayton, visit his website at

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