CONCORD, N.C. – Nick Jobes had a gut feeling.
With the PlayStation 4 portion of the inaugural eNASCAR Heat Pro League Draft underway, the gamer was watching with bated breath alongside his good friend, Joe.
And he just felt something “unbelievable” was about to happen with Hendrick Motorsports on the clock at pick No. 7.
“After the first six picks I turned to Joe and said that I just feel it in my gut, this is going to happen,” Jobes recalled. “When William Byron walked on stage and started talking and said, ‘This guy is high on our list,’ I turned to Joe and said, 'He’s about to call my name.' As I said that, my phone rang, and I saw the area code and I just knew. I picked up the phone and Joe started yelling.”
On the phone was Byron, congratulating Jobes on becoming Hendrick Motorsports’ pick to join the league as the organization’s PlayStation 4 driver.
Jobes participated in 589 races during the qualifying period, winning 214 of them.
“I work a nine-to-five job, I’m incredibly busy at times,” said Jobes, who works as a tax supervisor at an accounting firm. “But, for the latter half of the qualifying period, I would get off of work and I would go home and play ‘NASCAR Heat 3’ until 1 a.m. every day.”
The Brick, New Jersey, native crossed the finish line inside the top three in 426 of those 589 races, earning an average finish of 2.85.
“To put so much time and effort into this game in the past two months, and see it materialize and see my name get called from a NASCAR driver, it was unreal,” Jobes said. “I still don’t think I have taken in everything.”
He recalled playing racing games with his brother ever since they were little, growing up in a single-parent household in which their mother worked three jobs at times to support the family.
At 19 years old, a sophomore at Monmouth University, Jobes got the news that his mother had been diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. She passed away less than a month later.
“It forced me to grow up rather quickly,” Jobes said. “My brother and I kind of had to make it work with what we had, and that required me to work full-time as well as go to school full-time. I just did what I had to do to survive.”
He went on to graduate on time and began work at a local accounting firm. In his current job, he was recently promoted from senior tax accountant to tax supervisor.
“I’m very proud of my work, and I think these promotions really show the determination I have to succeed,” he said.
Now a 27-year-old, it comes as no surprise that the same determination shows up in his gaming style.
“I’m going to be one of the most competitive people in this league,” Jobes said. “I don’t like to lose, but at the same time you’re going to get somebody who is consistent and patient on the track. You’re going to get somebody who can race and not only be fast, but I can race around others and do so respectfully and not get myself in trouble and work my way through the field.”
After all of the effort to work his way into consideration for the draft during the qualifying period, then all of the excitement of hearing his name called on draft day, Jobes and his fellow competitors in the eNASCAR Heat Pro League will have to wait a few months before the true season begins.
It might seem like an eternity, but Jobes believes he’ll be able to use the time to his advantage.
“I’m going to spend every last second I can to make sure I’m one of the fastest,” he said. “I know that I’m going to put in more work than any of the other drivers.”
In the end, he wants to reward Hendrick Motorsports’ belief in him after the organization turned a dream into a reality.
“To hear my named called, it was just crazy,” he said. “It’s just that hard work and determination and watching it pay off. It’s still all so surreal.”