MILLSAP, Texas – Kaleb Emerson knew that good competition would make him a better driver.
It made him the Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMod national rookie of the year, too.
The 16-year-old from Millsap, Texas, topped the points race for rookie drivers in the division, complementing his first feature win in the division with another 11 top five finishes.
“We set our sights on rookie of the year at the beginning of the season, knowing that racing with so many good drivers was going to make us better in the long run,” said Emerson, son and frequent travel partner of now three-time Texas Sprint Series champion Jeff Emerson. “This is definitely a very competitive division and when you race with guys like Jerrett Bransom, Matthew Day and Billy Gould Jr., it pushes you to strive to do your very best.”
After making the move from a junior limited class – the biggest differences from a Southern SportMod were the engine and suspension – Emerson ran a homebuilt car at Abilene Speedway, Boyd Raceway, Heart O’ Texas Speedway, Kennedale Speedway and Southern Oklahoma Speedway over the course of his rookie campaign.
He was third in the points race at Boyd, earning his career first win in the class there on July 9.
“It felt really good to get that win. We put a lot of time and effort into it,” said Emerson. “We had been so close to winning a couple times before. To finally get it done was amazing.”
“My favorite tracks are probably Boyd, Kennedale and Abilene,” he added. “I like the atmosphere and we’ve been consistent at all three tracks, plus they’re not too far from home.”
His father has helped Emerson sharpen his driving skills and with setup, and shared new insights traveling to and from the track throughout the season.
“We wanted to run the best we could and knew as long as we did that the points would take care of themselves,” he said. “We learned a lot this year and we’ll definitely be back in a Southern SportMod next season.”
Starts-40 Wins-1 Additional Top Fives-11
His Crew: Parents Jeff and Kandi, and Lewis Wright.
His Sponsors: Binswanger Glass of Bedford; All American Glass of Fort Worth; Emerson Race Cars of Millsap; ABC Pick-N-Pull of Azle; and Stone Oil Field Service of Hobbs, N.M.