JACKSON, MINNESOTA (August 30, 2014) – After rain chased all the racers away for night one of the 36th Annual Jackson Nationals, there were 39 cars in the pit area ready to race with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour against the tough local competition. Jason, the 4-time ASCS National Champion with 78 National Tour wins and 133 overall ASCS sanctioned wins throughout his successful career, was ready to go racing in the Fischer Body Shop/CURB Records #41 Maxim.
While everyone loves a winner, their perspective and emotion changes when racers win on a sustained basis and become a champion, yet alone a multi-time champion. An interesting and fickle approach for sure, but nonetheless a natural reaction in life and sports. It is a pretty common reaction by race fans – just ask Donny Schatz, Steve Kinser, Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Gordon to name a few proven champions who experience just as many (if not more) boos as cheers when they are at the top of their game on the track. Champions have to rise above it because when you are at the top of your game there are just as many people who pull against you as there are that cheer for you and celebrate your success. It is our society’s way of insuring mediocrity is the standard versus honoring excellence. On this night it became apparent early in the evening that those emotions and perspectives would impact the night of the multi-time ASCS National Tour champion who hails from Eunice, Louisiana.
Scheduled to start fourth in the first heat race, the Ragin’ Cajun moved to the outside of the front row alongside Mark Dobmeier when Kenny Long did not come out to start the event. On the initial start, the green was replaced by the yellow and Jason was warned about jumping the start. On the restart the competitors got back up to speed and the yellow reappeared and apparently the #41 jumped the start again under the same conditions. The official assessed a penalty which moved the Waco Metal/Jonestown KOA Maxim back two spots to the outside of row two. When the event went green, the Cajun driver pushed the accelerator and got his Roush Yates Ford engine rolling in the right direction. He seized the lead and went on to take the win in the heat race. Later, ASCS officials penalized him again an additional two spots in the finishing order, changing it from a win to a third place finish, which took Jason out of the top eight redraw for the feature and pushed him into the B-Main.
Relegated to the first of two 12-lap B-Mains, Jason started from the pole position and got rolling early as he made it look easy. He had his elbows up and was making tracks and not looking back. He went on to take the last chance qualifying event win by over 12 seconds to advance onto the nights feature event. After the event, he professionally responded to the night’s events that transpired by stating, “I want to thank all of our great supporters like Mesilla Valley Transportation, Fischer Body Shop, Jonestown KOA and Mike and Josh Baughman to name just a few.” He continued, “I feel like it was a bad call, but it is a decision they had to make. My guys gave me a good car and the night is not over yet.” Finally, he summed it up by simply stating, “It is what it is and we will have to live with it.”
When the feature field was established, Jason and the Stenhouse Jr. Racing team would be starting from the 17th starting spot in the Weld Racing/Serratelli Hat Company speed machine. When the engines came to a full roar, pole sitter Matt Covington seized the lead. Jason was up on the wheel and coming forward in the field. After a series of early cautions and race stoppages, Jason was up to eleventh in the running order and looking for more. On the restart, he bicycled heading into turn one and lost a few spots. Bound and determined to get the most out of his Maxim he charged back forward to make his way back into the top ten. On the last and final restart, Jason was running ninth and again bicycled it going into the first set of turns losing three spots and coming home with a 12th place finish on a wild and wholly night of racing action on the big half mile in Jackson, Minnesota.