CALISTOGA, CALIFORNIA (September 14, 2019) – Calistoga Speedway is nothing less than picturesque. It is always welcomed when the teams pull in after a long West Coast swing. The semi-banked half-mile oval sits in a beautiful part of the country nestled in the Napa Valley. It has been the home of the Louis Vermeil since 1937 and the drivers and teams look forward to visiting the track each year as it produces some good racing. David Gravel and the JJR team were looking to continue their momentum after a string podium the night before at the Stockton Dirt Track. There were 22 entries in the pit area ready to compete for the winner’s trophy in the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown at Calistoga Speedway!
Your 2019 Knoxville Nationals Champion would be the third car out for his qualifying laps around Calistoga. The track was well prepared for fast action and Gravel was ready to show off his Kistler Engines/Engler Machine & Tool/All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads speed. He stomped on the loud pedal and took off as he took the green flag. His first lap was a good one and put him on top of the speed charts at 15.833 seconds, but he knew he had more under the hood of the Weikert’s Livestock/C&R Racing #41 Maxim. The talented speed chauffeur stayed on the accelerator and hit every mark with perfection. His hard work showed as he reaped the rewards of his efforts turning a lap of 15.672 seconds, which was a new track record! His impressive mark would stand throughout qualifying and for the second time in two short weeks Gravel had set new track records, with the first one being back on August 30th at Skagit Speedway. Not a bad way to start the night for the Watertown, Connecticut native and the team.
Sitting on top of the speed charts assures you the pole position in the first and fastest 8-lap Drydene heat race. The heat race lineup is usually stacked from top to bottom with talent and speed. This would be no different as Carson Macedo shared the front row with Gravel as Donny Schatz, Jason Sides, Shane Golobic, Sheldon Haudenschild, Jojo Helberg and Geoff Ensign filled out the starting lineup. When the racing went green it was Macedo into the lead as Schatz powered his way into the second spot making the pass on Gravel on the high side entering turn one. Gravel fought back and drove the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Walker Performance Filtration #41 back underneath Schatz for the runner-up position through turns three and four and attempted to track race leader Macedo down. Macedo was fast and in clean air. While Gravel closed the gap a little when the checkered flags flew, it was Macedo with the heat race victory by 0.421 seconds over Gravel, Schatz and Golobic with Haudenschild rounding out the top five.
Moving into the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash, Gravel’s good night continued as he drew the ‘1’ pill to start from the pole position. A little drama though unfolded in the pit area as Gravel cut down his tire and needed to replace it with a used tire of the same compound. With the haulers parked outside, the crew retrieved a used one and replaced it in time for the start of the dash. The six dash qualifiers rolled onto the track as Logan Schuchart pulled into his starting spot on the outside of the front row with Brad Sweet, Rico Abreu, Carson Macedo and Ian Madsen completing the remainder of the starting positions. Gravel powered off the bottom of turn four and headed towards the green with the lead. He was cruising and not looking back as he carried his speed forward and meticulously worked from inside the secured cockpit of his Maxim Racing machine. He would take the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash victory by 2.145 seconds over Schuchart with Sweet coming home third as Abreu, Macedo and Madsen crossed the finish line in that order.
The promoters kept the show moving along as the 8-minute horn sounded to summon the drivers to the track. Gravel, wearing his grey Durst Inc. emblazoned Simpson Race Products driver’s suit, climbed into the cockpit of the Walker Performance Filtration #41 Maxim for the 25 laps of competition. The field was set and the fans were ready for some high sped action World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car style. Philip, Tyler and Patrick had given him a fast hot rod all night, now it was his time to show off his talents and speed at Calistoga Speedway in the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown. After the famous four-wide salute to the fans, the drivers aligned in their side-by-side starting order. Gravel once again drove hard out of turn four and took the green flag. He was relentless lap after lap and was building a solid lead over Brad Sweet who worked his way into the runner-up position. He was fast and before you knew it, actually just seven laps into the race, Gravel had caught the rear of the field and was preparing to make his way through lap traffic. As he sped down the front straightaway he approached Stephan Ingraham’s #93 and tried a slide job going into turn one. The two about got together and Gravel scrubbed off some speed allowing Brad Sweet to close in and actually make a pass for the lead in turn two. Sweet’s ownership of the lead was short lived as Gravel had a dominant car and drove back underneath Sweet for the lead down the back straightaway and into turn two. Gravel was on a mission – a winning mission aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Jonestown KOA #41. He was able to build about a half of a straightaway lead over Sweet, but again late in the race approached the #93. The two touched slightly, but Gravel and Ingraham stayed straight and continued on. Gravel dominated the race for 25 laps and took the checkers and the win in the Wine Country Outlaw Showdown at Calistoga Speedway over Sweet by 2.171 seconds with Schuchart rounding out the podium as Donny Schatz came home fourth and Macedo rounded out the top five. After celebrating his win with the crew and on top of the wing as confetti fell, Gravel said, “Feels good to get another win. I feel like we could have won last night (at Stockton Dirt Track). So to let that slip away, it feels good to get a win.” As he reflected on the race and momentary loss of the lead, the Watertown, Connecticut native explained, “I got to the 93 at a bad spot and tried to slide him, it was a dumb mistake on my part. I deserved to lose the lead there. Racing all of these races, you should know better than that.” It was a great, and dominant win, for Gravel and the team and a tremendous way to end the West Coast swing!
Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT); Saich Family; Jonestown KOA; Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution; Weikert’s Livestock; J.R.C. Transportation, Inc.; Durst Inc.; Maxim Racing; The Boyd Family; Pro Powder Coating (PPC); Waco Metal; High Performance Lubricants, LLC; Team Jack Foundation; Mark Burch Motorsports; Tiger Towing; All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads, Inc.; All Pro Auto Reconditioning; AutoMeter; Bell Racing USA; Blackbeard; Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS); Buckwalter Trucking, LLC; C&R Racing; Chalk Stix Torsion Bars; Cody Monoco Racing; Crow Enterprizes, Engler Machine & Tool, Inc.; Factory Kahne FK Shocks; Fibreworks Composites; FK Rod Ends; Fuel Safe Racing Cells; Greber Racing Components; Hoosier Racing Tire; ISC Racers Tape; Jansen Transportation; K&N Filters; Kaiden Kares; Kistler Racing Engines; KSE Racing Products; LogoDaddy Graphics; Max Papis Innovations (MPI); MSD Performance; RaceDiecast.com; Schoenfeld Headers; Shell Shock Paint; Simpson Race Products; T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication; Vortex Racing Products; Weld Wheels; Wilwood Racing; and Winters Performance Products.
To stay connected with Jason Johnson Racing (JJR), go to www.jasonjohnsonracing.com.
To stay up-to-date with David Gravel and his success and journey on and off the track, as well as to purchase his gear and merchandise, go to www.DavidGravel89.com.