PEVELY, MISSOURI (August 5, 2016) – The thermometer was indicating the temperature was 86 degrees on this day, but with the humidity everyone’s soaking wet t-shirts were saying it was much hotter. The pit area at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 was brimming with 410 sprint cars and POWRI midgets in anticipation for action in the Prelude to the Ironman. This slightly larger than a quarter-mile oval, .265 miles as measured around the center of the racing surface, is just a really cool place as the surface is fast, the turns are definitely high banked, and the racing is incredible.
The officials at the track did a great job adding moisture and getting the surface ready for a great evening of racing. Jason rolled off 28th out of 29 cars for his two laps around Kenny Schrader’s speed palace. He rolled up onto the banking in turn two as his engine fired and pounded the loud pedal as he got up to speed. He ran a very clean first lap at 10.741 seconds, but needed more to move up the speed charts. Not one to walk away from a challenge, the spirited Louisianan drove the heck out of his Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Valvoline #41 the second go round. He boogied through the first set of turns and screamed down the backstretch setting the car as he cruised through turns three and four. When he charged under the checkered flag the stopwatch read 10.657 seconds, which was a really good late despite going out late. In fact, it wound up 13th quick overall as he had an identical time as Jason Sides who timed earlier.
With three heat races scheduled, the World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series officials pulled together the lineups based on each driver’s quickest time trial lap. When all of it was sorted out, Jason would start fifth aboard the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/FK Rod Ends #41 in the first and fastest heat race with Jonathan Cornell to his right side. Quick timer, Brad Sweet, and David Gravel were on the front row with Logan Schuchart and Rico Abreu pacing from row two. Sweet jumped into the lead to pace the field when the green lights were illuminated as Jason held down the fifth position. The Ragin’ Cajun was bad fast though and soon passed Schuchart to take command of the fourth spot. Using the speed from the straightaways, Jason would dive into the turns low and twist the corners . . . quickly. That strategy would pay dividends as he raced down Abreu and soon stole the show position. He would distance himself from Abreu and in the waning laps started to close the gap slightly on Gravel who was in the runner-up position. When the checkered flag was waved, Jason followed Sweet and Gravel across the line as Abreu finished fourth, Schuchart fifth with Zach Daum securing the sixth and final transfer position.
This track is simply demanding on the drivers, both physically and mentally, as both have to be refined in order to do well or this place will just wear you out completely. Lying in front of the 24 drivers who earned their way into the challenging Prelude to the Ironman feature was 35 laps of speed and tight racing. Jason would start from the seventh position with Larson Marks Racing’s Shane Stewart to his outside. David Gravel and Jacob Allen were in the front row as Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz followed close behind in row two. Directly in front of Jason and Shane in row three was Daryn Pittman and Parker Price-Miller. With lightning brightening the sky just south of the speedway the green flag waved. Gravel blasted into the lead as Jason wasted little time wheeling his hot rod into fifth early on. He had a fast race car and was using all of the horsepower from his Kistler Engines power plant to make tracks around I-55. Philip and the JJR crew had this hotrod setup almost perfect.
The racing here is fast and furious here with no one willing to give an inch. For the fans it is a white knuckling and exciting type of experience. You find yourself pushing on the invisible brake pedal from your seat trying to avoid chaos for your favorite driver. You just never know what is going to happen next. That’s what makes sprint car racing so much fun for the fans and adds entertainment value like no other. A few cautions slowed the action over the first fifteen laps. During a caution before the midway point a light midst started to fall with a few heavy raindrops mixed in. It didn’t dampen these hot shoes. When they went back to green the game was on. Jason was in a three-way battle with Sweet and Schatz for position as Stewart made his way into the mix. The rain started to pick up, but these iron men soldiered on and the last five laps were exciting. A late race restart saw the Cajun Sensation bolt off the green in the Fischer Body Shop/K&N Filters Maxim ahead of Stewart. Gravel would go on to take his seventh victory of the season as Pittman came home in the runner-up spot with Sweet in the show position. Donny Schatz finished fourth with Jason rounding out the top five, his 13th top five in 2016 – a 20.31% top five success rate. A great run for the forty-one!