KNOXVILLE, IOWA (August 12, 2017) – Jason and the JJR Marshall Racing team did not have a lot of time to celebrate their own version of the ‘perfect night’ after posting quick time in their group, winning their heat race, winning the Hard Knox preliminary feature and winning the SPEED SPORT World Challenge on Friday evening. They had more work to do as they were locked in to the 57th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals at the historic Knoxville Raceway where they would start from the 17th position aboard the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Engler Machine & Tool #41 Maxim.
It was an absolutely beautiful day around the Marion County Fairgrounds as people mingled throughout the day enjoying each other and the festivities surrounding the biggest sprint car race of the year. Some were buying their favorite driver’s merchandise, while others were people watching under the Ralph Capitani Avenue of Champions. It was race day at Knoxville Raceway!
The time passed by on the clock and before you knew it the engines were firing and the drivers that packed the pit area were aligning themselves for their positions in their alphabet race around the black clay surface – some were in the E-Main, while others were slotted for the D, C or B-Main. But, there were twenty teams that had to be a bit more patient, willingly of course, as they were already locked in to the granddaddy of them all in sprint car racing – the Knoxville Nationals A-Main. Jason and the JJR Marshall Racing team were one of those twenty and were ready to go. The winning started even before the races did for the team as they were recognized as the 2017 Best Dressed Crew sporting their custom team jerseys highlight by their yellow collars.
The A-Main field was finally set and the cars aligned on the front straightaway for driver introductions. When they got to the 17th starter, Jason Johnson, they fans cheered aloud as they honored the defending Knoxville Nationals champion. When the festivities ended and the last firework was displayed it was time to get down to business for the Ragin’ Cajun in the Fischer Body Shop/Waco Metal #41 Maxim. When Doug Clark waved the green flag it was pole sitter, David Gravel, driving hard into the lead as Jason used his inside row starting spot to drive forward and gain a spot. As the field spread out he stayed on the bottom and had a fast hot rod as he was gaining a position here and a position there before finding himself solidly in the top fifteen. By the time the first caution flag flew for Austin McCarl who slowed with smoke coming from the engine compartment, Jason had drove into 11th place but would restart twelfth as he just got by Paul McMahan for the position before the yellow came out. On the restart he wasted no time at getting back up to speed and driving forward into the seventh position when on lap 22 David Gravel slowed with mechanical issues in turn four. The Ragin’ Cajun was on the move and capturing the attention of the fans in the stands. They went back to racing, this time led by Donny Schatz, as these talented speed chauffeurs were putting on a show when on lap 24 another caution was thrown this time for Terry McCarl. Jason was now running in the sixth position and the race officials decided to stop all the cars for the 3 minute mid-race pit stop and refueling period.
Philip and the JJR Marshall Racing crew went back to work and made a few minor adjustments before heading back out on the track. The racing resumed with Schatz at the front of the pack and Jason dropping back to eighth in the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/K&N Filters #41. With 12 laps to go, Greg Hodnett slowed to a stop while running just outside the top ten with the forty-one driver holding down the ninth position. The bottom was going away a little, but that is where the Louisianan made his progress throughout the first half of the race. He moved back to the top went they went back under green and came home with an eleventh place finish as Donny Schatz was victorious for the tenth time beating a determined Kyle Larson to the finish line as Kerry Madsen, Shane Stewart and Brad Sweet rounded out the top five.
A great run by the team highlighted by an incredible Friday night in Knoxville and an eleventh place run in the 57th Annual 5-hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals. As the stands emptied, Jason spent time meeting with fans and signing autographs as he focused his attention on being back here at the 58th Annual edition of this great race in championship form in 2018.