ALGER, WASHINGTON (September 2, 2016) – Jason and the JJR #41 team, along with the rest of the contingent of World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car stars, made their way to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to race at Steve Beitler’s Skagit Speedway. Racing at the exciting 3/10-mile oval began on Labor Day back in 1954, so the track was celebrating its’ 62nd year of competition. There were 23 cars registered to race on the first of two nights of wheel-to-wheel action in the Original Outlaw Energy Showdown presented by NAPA Auto Parts.
After rain fell earlier in the day, the track was soft and moist as the track crew prepped the surface for racing action. Jason would go out early in time trials and when David Gravel took the checkers on his two laps, the reigning Knoxville Nationals champion pushed off in his Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) Maxim. His Kistler Engines power plant came to life as he took the green and wheeled into turn one. He would stop the clock in 11.004 seconds his first go ‘round, but stayed on the loud pedal the second time around to improve his time to 10.920 seconds. When the last driver in time trials crossed the line, the Eunice, Louisiana natives quickest time was good enough for sixth quick overall.
His qualifying time earned him a front row starting spot in the third 10-lap heat race beside pole sitter Taylor Malsam. Daryn Pittman and Henry VanDam followed the front row starters during the pace laps. When the green flag flew, the engines came to life with the forty-one getting off to a good start to seize the lead. The green was quickly replaced by the red flag as Malsam caught a rut on the demanding surface and flipped his entry causing the race stoppage. When racing resumed, Johnson again powered his way forward in the Waco Metal/FK Rod Ends #41 as he led Pittman around Skagit Speedway as the two talented chauffeurs put on a show. Jason would go on to take the heat race victory, his 15th heat race victory of the year, over Pittman, Dominic Scelzi, Travis Rilat, and VanDam with Greg Wilson locking down the sixth and final transfer position.
With his heat race win, he earned his way into the Dash event for the night. When the inversion pill of four was pulled, the Ragin’ Cajun would be on the front row of the race starting on the outside beside pole sitter Logan Schuchart. When the green fell over the field for the 8-lap Dash, Jason accelerated forward in his Jonestown KOA/K&N Filters Maxim but the car was a little too free making it difficult to hold his line and hold off the competition. Schuchart would go on to take the Dash win over Shane Stewart and David Gravel as Jason came home in the fourth spot ahead of Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman. The finishing order of this race set the starting lineup for the first three rows in the 25-lap Outlaw Energy Showdown feature event.
After some additional track maintenance to attempt to improve the track conditions for the high speed racing action, the fans were ready to see some great racing action. The teams were ready. And, the drivers were eager to get up to speed. After the four-wide parade lap and salute to the great fans of sprint car racing in the state of Washington, it was time to go racing. The yellow lights dimmed as the green lights were illuminated and the race was on. The air was filled with the sweet sound of 410 sprint car engines! Logan Schuchart jumped out into the early lead before an early yellow slowed the field. On the restart, Shane Stewart dove low through turns one and two to take the lead, but when Schuchart tried to return the favor in turn three on the low side the two leaders got together causing front end damage on Stewart’s #2. Jason meanwhile was in the catbird seat, in the fourth position, watching all of this unfold as he followed Gravel in the running order. When racing resumed, Jason got his elbows up and started to navigate the tricky surface at speed . . . top speed in his Fischer Body Shop/ISC Racers Tape Maxim. He was using his KSE Racing Products to artfully steer his way around Skagit as he gave chase of Schuchart and Gravel who were just ahead. The leaders approached lapped traffic just before the midway point of the race and it started to get a little more exciting. Boy at that point of the race surely no one knew how much more exciting this race would soon become, not that it wasn’t satisfying up until that point. As the laps clicked by, the front three were wheeling and dealing for position with Schuchart in control and Gravel and the Ragin’ Cajun close behind. With one to go, Schuchart crossed under the white flag in the lead, but Gravel made a daring and exciting last lap pass to steal the victory as Jason crossed the finish line just behind Schuchart to round out the top three. What an exciting race and a terrific run for the forty-one! Definitely worth the price of admission.
After the race, a satisfied Jason commented, “I felt like we had a good spot in the dash getting on the front row, but we were just a little too free and lost a front row starting spot there for the feature.” He continued, “You pretty much have to be perfect to win one of these races, but with how rough the track was it’s definitely a feat to be standing up here on the podium. It was the type of track where you really had to be aggressive so I am happy with our finish.”
Jason and the JJR crew will be back at Skagit Speedway on Saturday night for the second night of the Outlaw Energy Showdown. After Jason thanked all of the fans for coming out on Friday night, he encouraged them to come back for Saturday’s show and bring some friends. If you are going to the races, be sure to stop by and say hello to Jason and the JJR crew, as well as, stop by and see Bobbi at the merchandise trailer. She has all of the new 2016 Knoxville Nationals Champion gear available for purchase.