Compared to other modern day racecar drivers, Howie DiSavino III got his start late at age 13. But just seven years later, he will be making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut on Saturday (April 17) at his home track, Richmond Raceway.
DiSavino was intrigued with the sport while attending his first NASCAR race at Richmond with his father, roughly 10 years ago. In the midway, Arena Racing was displaying and showcasing some of its chassis, which triggered the eyes of the Richmond native.
But it wasn’t until DiSavino was 13 years old when he began his racing career, in those same Arena cars. From there, he jumped to running late models, competing primarily at Southside Speedway, southwest of Richmond.
DiSavino explained that move up to late models as “huge,” for the relatively inexperienced driver.
“It was awesome to be able to say I was a late model stock driver,” DiSavino recently told Jayski.com. “I thought I was the biggest man in the whole world, like, ‘Hey, I‘m racing late models now.‘”
After cutting his teeth in late models, pro late models and even running one CARS Late Model tour race at Dominion Speedway, DiSavino went to test an ARCA car at Hickory Speedway.
Or so he thought.
It turned out that the test was a quiz of sorts, hosted by Jamie Jones of Win-Tron Racing to see if DiSavino was ready for ARCA.
“I thought I was just going down for an ARCA test, that‘s it, and I was going to continue racing late models,” DiSavino recalled. “After the test was done, they pulled me in the hauler and said, ‘Look, in four weeks you‘re going to be running Elko, Minnesota.‘
“My mind was blown away because I was thinking I made it. I‘m making it in the racing industry, and every kid‘s dream is to make it.”
At the test session was 2017 ARCA Series champion Austin Theriault. Since hoisting the trophy four years ago, along with making scattered NASCAR starts, he’s helped with driver development (AT Racing Development), one of those being DiSavino.
After qualifying 12th for his debut race at Elko Speedway, DiSavino brought the No. 32 Chevrolet home in 10th. That gifted him another opportunity at Lucas Oil Raceway later in 2019, where he finished 16th.
In the 22 ARCA races since the beginning of the 2020 season, DiSavino has competed four times. Of his three starts last year, he scored a best finish of ninth at Lucas Oil Raceway. He kicked off the 2021 season by finishing 13th at Daytona International Speedway, making a drive through the field late after cutting a left rear tire.
“The ARCA competition is a stout field, it really is,” DiSavino added. “I had to get walked through with the ARCA cars: This is how it‘s going to feel, this is why it feels that way and this is why we‘re making these adjustments and I will learn this is why I‘m feeling.
“But I feel like there [were] a few races where I could have almost scored a top five.”
In DiSavino‘s six ARCA Series starts, he has an average finish of 14.2. In his lone ARCA Menards West Series race last fall at Phoenix Raceway, he finished 11th.
Now, this weekend, DiSavino will make his Truck Series debut, driving the No. 3 Chevrolet for Jordan Anderson Racing. Wanting to move up the racing ranks quickly, he leaned on Theriault about what path he should start his NASCAR career with
“[Theriault] has been looking at Truck for teams for quite some time, and we had a few in mind,” DiSavino said. “When the opportunity with Jordan Anderson came up, I knew he had a very good truck. When it got presented to us we were like, ‘Yeah, we‘re definitely going to take it.\"”
Previously, DiSavino knew Anderson a bit, as JAR once ran out of Win-Tron Racing’s shop. Having that past relationship makes this pairing even more special for the Virginia driver.
But is DiSavino ready for Truck Series racing?
“The biggest thing that I‘ve always said is you never know you‘re ready until you do it,” he said. “I was never ready to just jump into an Arena car and start racing. I started late and I didn‘t know what I was doing. I was never ready to hop into a late model, but I did it and I mastered it. For the ARCA race, I was never ready for that amount of people telling me, ‘Oh, that‘s a big jump, you aren‘t ready for it.‘ The next thing I did was show up, ran all 250 laps on the lead lap and got a top-10 finish.
“The way I kind of live life is you‘re never ready for something, but when you get the opportunity to do something take it and run.”
With no practice or qualifying ahead of Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250, DiSavino has spent time on Spencer Boyd’s simulator rig. He’s also gone back and watched YouTube clips of on-board cameras from past races at Richmond, in both the Truck and Xfinity Series.
Because it’s his debut, DiSavino is entering the race with a realistic mindset.
“Just to finish the race,” he said of his primary goal. “If I finish all 250 laps, run the best race that I can, I‘m looking for a top 25, personally, for my first truck race. I know the trucks have a stout field.”
As for other races in 2021, DiSavino doesn’t believe he’ll be running any additional ARCA races, focusing 100% on the Truck Series.. But nothing is set in stone as to when his next race will come.
“I don’t know about the future with what team, that‘s more in [Theriault’s] hands,” he said. “I think we‘re going to look at our approval rating after Richmond and see if we got approved for a mile and a half or where we‘re approved to run to make our decision and where we‘re going to run next.”
In the Truck Series’ return race to Richmond last September, Jordan Anderson Racing finished 24th with Anderson behind the wheel.