HANFORD, CALIFORNIA (March 29, 2019) – With the weather finally cooperating, David Gravel and the JJR #41 team were one of 32 cars in the pit area, located off turns three and four, at Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairground in Hanford, California on Friday night in the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/BR Motorsports #41. After a tough few outings a few weeks ago, the team stayed focused and had their Kistler Racing Engines/Maxim Racing machine ready to roll around the 3/8 mile oval.
With the highest pill in hand, Gravel would be the last car out for his two time trial laps. The grandstands were filled with a lot eager fans of the sport, and I am sure there may have been dragged along maybe too but they would have fun, ready to see the best in the business to their thing. The bar was set pretty high when a few drivers turned laps that dropped into the 14 second bracket. When it was David Gravel’s turn to go out, the track surface had scrubbed off a bit of speed. He turned his first lap in 15.634 seconds aboard the Weikert’s Livestock/Jonestown KOA #41 Maxim, which had him out of the top 25. Looking to turn a better lap and get into one of the top 16 inversion spots, he stayed on the hammer and used his skill and his Engler Machine & Tool/Kistler Racing Engine power to turn in a quicker lap at 15.333 seconds. The faster lap was good enough to catapult him into 15th overall on the time scoring charts.
With his time trial qualifying position locked in, it positioned him on the outside of row two in the third heat race where he would start alongside Donny Schatz. The row two starters would pace the field behind the front row of Brian Brown and Jacob Allen. Eight laps is the distance of these races and when the green flag dropped the race was on. Gravel locked into his race strategy as the track’s surface was very racy as displayed in the first two heat event. With his Vortex Racing Products wings positioned, he used the downforce to transfer traction to his Hoosier Racing Tires as he drove forward. In sprint car racing when an opportunity presents itself you have to seize the moment. Gravel did just that and drove the J.R.C. Transportation/Durst, Inc. #41 into the top spot. He would take the heat race victory over Schatz, Brown and Dominic Scelzi with D.J. Netto securing the fifth and final transfer position.
With the heat race victory comes the opportunity to race in the DIRTvision Fast Pass Dash, which is six laps in length with the finishing order setting the A-Main starting lineup for the first four rows. After the draw on the frontstretch, Sheldon Haudenschild and Shane Golobic would start in row one followed by Brent Marks, Shane Stewart and Donny Schatz with Gravel in the sixth starting position as Daryn Pittman and Carson Macedo rounded out the field. Haudenschild would take the lead when the green flag waved as Gravel was fighting for position. Gravel would bring out the caution flag at the halfway point and tag the rear for the restart. Haudenschild would win the Dash over Schatz, Stewart, Marks and Pittman with Macedo, Gravel and Golobic close behind.
With the 35-lap feature event lineup set, David Gravel would confer with Philip Dietz to make the setup call for the race. Up until this point of the night the drivers and teams had given the fans in the stand all of their money’s worth and more. The racing was fantastic and the talented showman displayed their full entertainment value. But the fun was just beginning. After the traditional four-wide salute to the fans it was time to go racing World of Outlaws style! The Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Saich Family #41 Maxim rolled to the inside of row four where David Gravel would start the event. When the green flag dropped it did not take long for the fans to get to the edge of their seats. Haudenschild was leading but the field was in hot pursuit. Gravel found the low line and was making it work to his advantage. Eight laps into the race with Haudenschild leading, Gravel and Pittman were battling position lap after lap. It was incredible to watch these two talented drivers racing cleanly and just swapping positions and lines lap after lap. Haudenschild was now contending with Shane Stewart for the top spot with Stewart taking control on lap 20 with the hot shoe from Connecticut close behind as he also got by the NOS #17 for the runner-up position. Stewart exited off turn two as Gravel used his Kistler Racing Engines power to drag race down the back straightaway. It was Gravel getting to the low side of turn three first just ahead of Stewart to take over the lead on lap 22. He would not look back and collected his 40th career World of Outlaws win and his first in the Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) #41 in 2019! He shared the podium with Daryn Pittman who came home second and third place finishing Shane Stewart. An pumped up and emotional David Gravel exited the cockpit in his Durst, Inc. Simpson Race Products fire suit to celebrate as the confetti fell with Philip, Tyler and Patrick as they adorned him with the victor’s trophy, a blue Bud Light electric guitar. Asked about the win after acknowledging the team’s sponsors, Gravel said the win was “definitely special” as he searched for words and reflecting on the night. It was his first win with the JJR #41 team now owned and operated by Bobbi (and Jaxx) Johnson, and JJR’s first win since Jason Johnson left us too soon last June. Gravel reflected on the night and his run to the lead in his heat race by stating, “It really set us up for the rest of the night as I knew the bottom was going to be a factor.” Following the race Philip Dietz, Crew Chief and Team Manager, would explain, “It definitely is an emotional night.” He continued, “This is one track we struggled at over the years. We knew we had to up our game when we came in tonight. To go out and pick up the win for JJR and all of our sponsors, you know, we couldn’t ask for a better night.”
We are proud to represent all of our dedicated and loyal supporters:
Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT); Saich Family; Jonestown KOA; Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution; Weikert’s Livestock; J.R.C. Transportation, Inc.; Durst Inc.; Maxim Racing; The Boyd Family; Pro Powder Coating (PPC); Waco Metal; High Performance Lubricants, LLC; Team Jack Foundation; Mark Burch Motorsports; Tiger Towing; All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads, Inc.; All Pro Auto Reconditioning; AutoMeter; Bell Racing USA; Blackbeard; Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS); Buckwalter Trucking, LLC; C&R Racing; Chalk Stix Torsion Bars; Cody Monoco Racing; Crow Enterprizes, Engler Machine & Tool, Inc.; Factory Kahne FK Shocks; Fibreworks Composites; FK Rod Ends; Fuel Safe Racing Cells; Greber Racing Components; Hoosier Racing Tire; ISC Racers Tape; Jansen Transportation; K&N Filters; Kaiden Kares; Kistler Racing Engines; KSE Racing Products; LogoDaddy Graphics; Max Papis Innovations (MPI); MSD Performance; Schoenfeld Headers; Shell Shock Paint; Simpson Race Products; T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication; Vortex Racing Products; Weld Wheels; Wilwood Racing; Winters Performance Products; and, www.racediecast.com.
To stay connected with Jason Johnson Racing (JJR), go to www.jasonjohnsonracing.com
To learn more about David Gravel, and stay up to date with his success and journey, go to www.DavidGravel89.com