MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (May 20, 2016) – On a beautiful spring day in Central Pennsylvania with temperatures reaching into the high 70’s, the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series made their way back to the historic Williams Grove Speedway. Since 1939, some of the greatest racers in all of motorsports circled this famous half mile oval and made a name for themselves. Names revered in racing like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Al Unser, Tommy Hinnershitz, Jan Opperman, Judd Larson, Doug Wolfgang and Steve Kinser to name just a few. Jason and the JJR crew had the hauler pulled in towards the fourth turn end of the pit lane and were ready to get out on the track in the Jonestown KOA/MSD Performance #41 Maxim.
There were 39 teams in the pits and everyone was eager to take their time trial laps. Unfortunately, Jason had to wait awhile for his chance as the ‘52’ pill was pulled, which meant he would be one of the last five cars to hit the track on the night. When he rolled down the pit lane he patiently waited for the push truck to tap his rear nerf bar and push him forward to start his Kistler Engine. It roared to life and he powered up to speed down the backstretch. He drove his Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Winter Performance Products race car under the green flag to commence lap one. When he came back around he stopped the clock at 18.360 seconds. Using the bottom lane, his next lap was slightly quicker at 18.249 seconds, which was 15th quick in Flight B and 29th overall. The track had scrubbed off more than a second and a half from start to finish highlighting the importance of a good pill draw for qualifying.
His qualifying lap put him on the outside of row four in the third heat race. With eight laps and only five positions up for grabs he had an uphill climb. Greg Hodnett and Donny Schatz were on the front row with Hodnett seizing the lead at the start. Jason was on the top side and making some incremental progress. He was running in the seventh position and was closing in on sixth running Jacob Allen and Aaron Ott who held the last transfer position. The car was fast and smooth but the passing lanes were at an absolute minimum. Hodnett would go on to take the win over Schatz, Lucas Wolfe, and Brian Montieth with Ott locking down the last qualifying transfer position. Jason came home in the seventh position.
Anyone who knows this Louisiana-born driver knows how determined he is and he knew he had to drive hard all 12 laps in the Last Chance Showdown (LCS) to come from his twelfth starting spot to secure one of the last four transfer positions up for grabs to the feature event. Philip made some last minute adjustments and changed the stagger as Jason settled into his Fibreworks Composites seat nestled in the cockpit of his Maxim Racing machine. As he pushed off, the track had taken on some rubber and there was a very thin cushion around three quarters of the way up the track. Tim Shaffer and Brad Sweet were in row one as Jason shared row six with Frankie Herr. When the green flag waived over the field, the Ragin’ Cajun set sail aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Shell Shock #41. When lap one was completed he had already maneuvered his way all the way up to the sixth spot and was carrying his speed down the straightaways and into the turns. Everyone was hugging the bottom, but Jason was running the high side. He disposed of Jacob Allen to take over the fifth positon and then started to track down Trey Starks and Shaffer. Starks had something he wanted, the last transfer position, and the Cajun Sensation was going after it with fervor. Jason kept pounding around the high side, but as they entered turn one he dove to the low side and pulled even with Starks. He eventually made the pass stick and crossed the finish line in fourth behind race winner Brad Sweet, runner-up Sammy Swindell, and Tim Shaffer to earn his spot in the A-Main. An impressive and determined run for the forty one!
With a difficult track to pass on and no grandiose ideas related to a full field charge for the victory, Jason and the JJR crew made a few changes to try to keep their speed they displayed in the LCS while creating some more traction on a hard and slick surface. There were 25 laps assigned for him to do battle and 23 other competitors wheeling their entries at speed that wanted the same thing. An equal number of PA Posse and World of Outlaws made up the first ten spots with Greg Hodnett and Joey Saldana leading the parade with Lance Dewease and Daryn Pittman following right behind. Hodnett would jump into the early lead as Jason went to the top of the track. Refusing to be content following everyone around the bottom Jason was as high up as the track would allow trying everything to make it work. He was carrying speed out of the corners and down the long straightaways in the Fischer Body Shop/Weld Racing #41. At the front, Dewease found some rubber down low and propelled himself into the lead on lap nine with Hodnett right behind. Jason continued to battle with Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Sammy Swindell and Stevie Smith for position. It was very entertaining even though this talented group wasn’t racing for the lead. I quit counting how many times they exchanged positions in the running order, but the racing was clean and very exciting to watch. Dewease would go on to take the victory over Hodnett, Donny Schatz and Pittman with Danny Dietrich rounding out the top five. Jason was scored with a 22nd place finish in the feature. While not the type of top performance they have become accustomed to during the 2016 season, the Louisiana driver put on one heck of a show around the topside of the speedway to earn one of the coveted feature spots in a very competitive field, at a very tough place to race, and on a tricky ‘not-so-easy’ to pass track surface.