MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (May 19, 2017) – Another day. Another Race. Another Opportunity. This time at the historic half mile that started racing weekly back in 1939. There certainly is a lot of history here and made heroes that circled this track and made a name for themselves at this hallowed track. There’s the blue bridge on the backstretch and the spacious infield for fans to roam with grandstands on the front and backstretch. There’s Beer Hill and Bricker’s French Fries. It’s William Grove. Summerlike temperatures once again greeted the race teams and fans to Williams Grove Speedway with temperatures again in the low 90’s. Jason and the JJR Marshall Racing #41 team were one of 41 teams registered to take on the half mile clay oval on Friday night in the first of two nights of racing in the Morgan Cup Spring Classic.
The field was split for time trial qualifying with the 2016 Knoxville Nationals champion slated to go out late in the second flight aboard the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Winters Performance Products #41 Maxim. He rolled down the push off lane that parallels the frontstretch and anxiously waited for his time to shine at speed. The push truck tapped his rear nerf bar and his Kistler Engine came to life. It was go time. He took the green and was off as he drove hard into turn one and shot down the backstretch. He entered turn three and accelerated out of turn four. Boom! The first lap came in at 16.876 seconds which was seventh quick. He stayed on the loud pedal and searched for a quicker line with the hopes he would improve his time the second lap, but he was slightly off turning a lap of 17.063 seconds. He made the best of a pill draw that sent him out late, but resulted in a solid qualifying effort.
The ink on the heat race lineups was still drying as they were being posted and the Jonestown KOA/FK Rod Ends Maxim would be in the third 8-lap heat race with Flight B quick timer Joey Saldana on the pole and Sheldon Haudenschild on his outside. Jason would start fourth and share the row with Danny Dietrich’s Weikert’s Livestock #48 Maxim. Saldana wasted little time jumping into the lead with Haudenschild close behind. Dietrich was running third, but he had the Ragin’ Cajun lurking closely behind in the forty-one. Jason was fast and carrying speed into the turns and bolting out of the turns as he was closing the gap on Dietrich each lap. He was right there when the yellow flag was displayed as Anthony Macri’s #39 slowed to a stop just out of turn four. They restarted two-by-two and when the racing resumed Jason drove off the top side and into third place. Over the next few laps he and Dietrich would race wheel-to-wheel and put on quite an exciting display for the fans as they raced for the show position. Jason had it, Dietrich wanted it. With the laps winding down Dietrich went to the high side and made it work as he made the pass coming out of turn two for the position. Pittman would go on to take the victory over Haudenschild and Dietrich with Jason coming home fourth and Logan Schuchart once again making a late race pass for the fifth and final transfer spot.
With the lights illuminated around the legendary half mile, the double horn sounded and for the 24 drivers and teams who earned their way into the field on this competitive night it was time to go racing at Williams Grove Speedway. Jason would start 14th aboard the Waco Metal/Valvoline #41 beside the Don Kreitz, Jr. owned, Lance Dewease driven #69k who have been the hottest team in Pennsylvania for the last season and a half. David Gravel and Brad Sweet led the field to the green flag and the residual smoke from the fireworks show was whisked away as the wings cut through the air. Jason was racing in the dirty air early when the yellow flag was displayed as Joey Saldana and Lucas Wolfe sat facing the racing in turn four with Saldana sustaining some front end damage and was done for the night. Jason restarted 12th and got a great restart as he drove down off four and by the time he completed the lap he was running in the ninth position. He was strong at this stage of the race and held the position before losing a few spots as the yellow was again displayed, this time for Jason Sides who hit the inside guiderail on the back straightaway. Gravel was still leading the field and Jason would restart from the 11th position. He got shuffled back to 12th as they charged under the flag stand, but the racing action was paused again on lap 23 when Danny Dietrich came to a stop with a flat right rear tire coming out of turn two. With two laps to go the bottom of the track was a requirement as there was very little, if anything, traction left up on the top to gain some speed. Jason lost two spots as he pushed up off the bottom to finish with a 14th place finish as David Gravel took the opening night win over Donny Schatz, Freddie Rahmer and Brad Sweet with Greg Hodnett rounding out the top five. A respectable night for the team against a tough field of competitors at this historic Pennsylvania oval.