CHICO, CALIFORNIA (September 9, 2016) – When you are a sprint car team and head into Chico in the early fall it means only one thing . . . the Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway. There were 38 drivers and teams that were registered in the pit area on Friday night for a chance to win the first of two nights in the 63rd running of this prestigious race. Jason and the JJR team rolled their Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Crow Enterprizes #41 Maxim out as the back gate of the trailer came down. It was race day at Silver Dollar Speedway.
There were two flights set to go out for time trials, with the reigning 2016 Knoxville Nationals champion set to take to the track in Flight A as he was the sixteenth car lined up in the staging area. With a tap from the push truck, his Kistler Engines motor came to life and he pedaled his powerful racing machine up to speed. He turned two consistent laps around Silver Dollar, one came in at 12.304 seconds and the other one at 12.268 seconds, but neither of the two qualifying laps was fast enough to meet his expectations. The quicker of his two laps was 29th quick overall and the team recognized quickly that they would need to work extremely hard as this night was going to be an uphill battle.
Mired back in row four to start the first heat race, with only the top five transferring on to the feature, Jason rolled his Waco Metal/ISC Racers Tape #41 into the eighth starting position. With Daryn Pittman and Joey Saldana in row one, Cory Eliason and Donny Schatz in row two, and Austen Wheatley and Bud Kaeding in the third row the battle was on. Saldana powered into the lead from his outside front row starting spot as the remainder of the field followed. Ten laps later he would take the win over Pittman, Schatz and Eliason with Kaeding locking down the final transfer position. Jason came home eighth and quickly focused on preparing his entry for the Last Chance Showdown (LCS).
Twelve laps and five cars separated him from his last chance to put this forty-one in the show for the night. The track was fast and racy and passing was at a premium. He flipped down the shield of his Shell Shock custom painted Bell Racing Helmet and was ready to unleash some Ragin’ Cajun speed from his ninth starting spot. Local Racers, Justyn Cox and Robbie Price brought the field to the green with Cox setting the early pace. Jason quickly raced his way up to seventh and was digging for more with each passing lap. He was on the move as his Weld Racing wheels were turning his Hoosier Racing Tires forward. The laps were clicking down – quickly, very quickly – and the Cajun Sensation fans were starting to wring their hands anxiously fearing their hero would not make the show. He kept the hammer down and moved into fifth and before you knew it he was passing Price for the final transfer position. When Cox crossed under the checkers to take the win, he was followed by Logan Schuchart and Jason Sides and the Ragin’ Cajun came home fourth. Whew!
Applying their lessons learned Philip and the JJR team quickly prepped the car for the 30-lap feature event so their driver had the best chance to advance from his 24th starting position. Californian, Mason Moore, and Joey Saldana paced the field and brought them up to speed as the green flag waved. Saldana would lead early. Jason was not lollygagging back where he started as the leaders catch the back of the field quickly here. He stood on the gas and raced forward aboard his Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/Vortex Racing Products Maxim. Throughout the first ten laps, he made his was up seven positions. With 12 laps down, Rico Abreu flipped collecting Paul McMahan and others. With nowhere to go, Jacob Allen, Logan Schuchart, Kyle Hirst and Jason were unfortunately caught up in the melee. Heading to the work area with the JJR #41 it was Philip and the crew’s time to shine. And they did in a big way. They changed the front axle and replaced the front wing on the forty-one just in time to push him off as the caution lights came on. The Louisiana native headed to the back of the pack again for the restart. This time his competitive juices were flowing and when the green came back out he pedaled down. Shane Stewart, who took the lead right before the red appeared, was leading the field. The Ragin’ Cajun was busting it and it did not take long for him to show up in the top fifteen. He kept his Maxim Racing machine moving forward around Silver Dollar Speedway as I am sure his son Jaxx was yelling “Go Daddy, Go!” He was now in the top ten with only a few more circuits left on this night. Stewart would take the win on the first night of the 63rd Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions as he beat Saldana and Jac Haudenschild to the finish line. Jason showed his determination and perseverance as he wheeled the Priority Aviation Services, LLC #41 to a ninth place finish. He and the JJR team overcame a lot of obstacles on this night as he passed 15 cars, some of them more than once, to earn his seventh KSE Hard Charger Award of the 2016 season. A result that certainly was a true testament to both the driver and team’s ability to achieve results working as a team in the face of adversity. A great run for the forty-one!