CJ Faison was leaning against his race car on pit road following the Buckle Up 200 Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway when a group of fans in the grandstands got together and screamed “Way to go CJ!”
Faison, a native of Seaford, gave them his approval with a thumbs up following a satisfying hot day on Dover’s high-banked, one-mile race track this afternoon.
Faison finished 23rd in his first-ever Xfinity race and said it felt like a victory considering he hadn’t competed in a NASCAR race in two years.
“Everyone overuses this one term of ‘It’s a dream come true,’ but for me it literally is a dream come true,” Faison said. “This is a win for my team and I, since this is my first time out here [in the Xfinity Series]. I’m just excited, blessed and honored to even have this opportunity.”
The 21-year-old driver had competed in the K&N Pro East Series and the Camping World Truck Series at Dover.
But this was a whole other animal. This time he was rubbing fenders against such drivers as former Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne.
Faison had to make a lot of adjustments throughout the weekend.
“You’ve probably got 200 more horsepower and the cars act totally different,” he said, of the difference between the Xfinity and K&N Series cars. “You’re on radial tires versus bias ply tires and that’s huge. A lot of people don’t understand that.
“So I had to get used to a new tire, a new series and a new car that I’ve never been in and raced before, so I’m satisfied. This is like a win to me, finishing 23rd.”
His family and friends gathered around him on pit road. His father, Ron Faison, celebrated with a cigar.
“It was a very good run considering he hasn’t been in a car in almost two years,” Ron Faison said. “He did a good job, we’re real proud of him to bring it home in one piece for Carl Deputy and Deputy Builders.
“They just came on board to help us out and it’s people like that who make it where he can go do this.”
Now Faison just hopes he did well enough to get another chance at racing in the Xfinity Series. He finished six laps off the pace of race winner Chris Buescher in the No. 26 Toyota for JGL Racing, but enjoyed an incident-free afternoon.
“We talked about it a little bit [Friday] after practice,” Faison said. “Since I didn’t mark up the car, ding anything up or wreck anybody, hopefully, they’ll understand what we’ve got here and the potential that they have.”
Since he has not been racing the past couple of years, Faison has taken over his family’s Delaware Auto Exchange business in Felton and has started other ventures of his own such as a Real MMA series and Real Eyewear sunglasses.
He figured now was as good a time as any to try to jumpstart a career in NASCAR since he recently bought a new home in Delaware and has his feet on the ground.
“I figured it was maybe time to try and step back in and see what I could do,” Faison said. “And I’ll tell you, taming the monster is 10 times harder than anything anybody could ever do. People who say we aren’t athletes have no idea at all.”
Article by Mike Finney