MESQUITE, TEXAS (September 19, 2020) – After the checkered flag flew at Lawton Speedway and the dust settled, there was work still to do for the JJR crew as they had to wash and maintain the car and head to The Lone Star State of Texas to race on Saturday night at the historic Devil’s Bowl Speedway. The famous half mile oval is where is all began for Ted Johnson’s travel tour of speedsters back in 1978 when Jimmy Boyd captured the first ever World of Outlaws feature win on March 18th. This place is like home for crew chief Philip Dietz. Not only is he a native Texan, but for many years he and his cousin Jason Johnson lived right up the road in Greenville when they were together and racing with the late Lanny Row’s operation, the beloved The Shop Motorsports star car, and have had a lot of success at the half mile track. That success continued with the World of Outlaws when they collected the win in the JJR #41 back on April 14, 2017 together. On this night there were 22 signed into the pit area readying to race in the Texas Outlaw Nationals. Philip, David, Clyde and Nate were ready to continue the success of JJR at Devil’s Bowl.
Following the completion of hot laps, it was time to measure your speed and performance against the ticking seconds on the stopwatch. Back on April 27, 2018, it was The Ragin’ Cajun – Jason Johnson who set the current track record at a blistering 13.306 seconds. Devil’s Bowl was always a track he loved since he was a little boy and visited the track to watch the World of Outlaws with his father Craig Johnson. David Gravel has excelled at racing hard and timing well throughout his career and he was looking to replicate those results. He would be the fourth car out on the track and when he mashed the loud pedal his Waco Metal/Tiger Towing #41 Maxim leaped forward and started to build up momentum as he took the green flag. He was moving and grooving with a first lap time of 13.702 seconds. He continued his relentless pursuit against the clock getting the most out of his Kistler Engines/Engler Machine & Tool power and the next time around turned in a faster lap at 13.631 seconds. The quicker of his two laps earned him the quick time award, his fifth of the season, in the final time trial order and set his up for the Drydene heat races to follow.
With a field loaded with talent, there certainly would be no “easy” heat race. The Drydene heat race lineups are set by each driver’s fastest lap in time trials. There would be three heat races with David Gravel be slated to start from the pole position in the first and fastest 8-lap heat event. He would line up to the inside of Jason Sides on the front row with Kraig Kinser and Donny Schatz following in row two. When the green flag waved, it was Gravel driving the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/FK Shocks #41 into the lead over Sides with Schatz giving chase from third. The track was tacky and fast and the Watertown, Connecticut speedster was showing the way. With each passing lap he extended his lead and was racing in the clean Texas air. When the checkered flag flew he dashed under it first, 2.567 seconds ahead of runner-up Sides with Schatz, Kinser and John Carney completing the top five. It was his series leading 16th Drydene heat race win in 2020.
Earning his 33rd opportunity to race in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash Gravel was hoping his drawing luck was better than the season average. By virtue of winning the first heat race he would be the first driver to pull a number out of the over-sized NOS Energy Drink can. He again mixed them up well and pulled his hand out with the ‘2’ pill, which put him on the outside front row with Sheldon Haudenschild to his inside on the pole. Row two was comprised of Shark Racing’s duo of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen with Jason Sides and Parker Price-Miller rounding out the field. When the green flag was displayed it was Haudenschild driving into the lead with Gravel within striking distance. Gravel was making the low line work and by lap three had driven his Waco Metal/AutoMeter #41 Maxim up to Haudenschild’s rear nerf bar. He made the pass for the lead entering turn one and the two drivers were about ready to give the fans a show. Haudenschild was aggressively pursuing Gravel and when the white flag waved was right there. Gravel got up over the inside berm a little and Haudenschild carried his momentum forward and down the backstretch. Gravel entered turn three with the lead, but Haudenschild was carrying a head of steam through the turn. Gravel bobbled slightly and Haudenschild exited turn four side-by-side with Gravel. The two drivers crossed the finish line in a photo finish. The electronic timing showed the two drivers tied with the difference at the line being 0.000 seconds. By the human eye it appeared Gravel won by the slightest of margins. Jacob Allen followed the top two across the line followed by Sides, Schuchart and Price-Miller. Gravel was awarded the win under World of Outlaw rules as he was scored the leader of the previous lap. An exciting finish for sure and a window into what the feature had in store.
The track was still lightning fast as the drivers and teams were summoned to the track for the 30-lap World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Texas Outlaw Nationals feature. Philip Dietz and the JJR #41 team gave Gravel a great car all night and the talented driver did his part to position himself on the pole aboard the Weikert’s Livestock/Walker Performance Filtration #41 Maxim. After they regrouped into their two-by-two starting lineup following their tradition salute to the fans of the sport, Gravel flipped down the shield of his Simpson Race Products helmet and was ready to go. When the yellow lights dimmed and the green lights illuminated, David drove the forty-one into the lead over Haudenschild as the top two were setting an incredibly fast pace around the historic oval. David was getting into a groove as he hit his marks lap after lap. He was battling Sheldon Haudenschild but the driver on the move was Logan Schuchart in the Drydene #1s. Schuchart moved into the runner-up position on lap 9 and was using the low line to track down Gravel who had approached lapped traffic. Just as they were approaching the halfway mark of the race Gravel approached Mason Daniel who missed the bottom and drifted up into the leader’s ace lane. Gravel had to tap the breaks and Schuchart pounced on the opportunity and drove under both Daniel and Gravel exiting turn two to take the lead. Gravel was not about to give up. He kept his right foot planted and as the top two raced forward he began to close the gap with the laps waning. Gravel was right there and appeared in position to make an attempt for the lead with three laps to go, but the caution waved thwarting the attempt. Schuchart now had clean air and on the restart legged out the lead over Gravel to collect his second consecutive Texas Outlaw Nationals win over Gravel and Haudenschild with Brad Sweet and Jacob Allen rounding out the top five. On the frontstretch, Gravel shared, “We had a good enough car to win.” He continued, “I’m bummed for my guys and all our sponsors here tonight. Sometimes it’s better running second there. Mason Daniel has been hard to lap all season and he decides to miss the bottom and give Logan the bottom. It is what it is. We’ll take second and move on.” And move on they will as they have a busy week of racing ahead of them with five races in five days starting Tuesday night at Eldora Speedway in the Governors Reign and ending Saturday night at Lernerville Speedway in the Commonwealth Clash. Another great run for the forty-one!
Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT); Saich Family; 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 Auto Reconditioning; AutoMeter; Bell Racing USA; Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS); Buckwalter Trucking, LLC; C&R Racing; Chalk Stix Torsion Bars; 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; 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; Walker Performance Filtration; 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.