HARTFORD, MICHIGAN (July 28, 2017) – After a tough visit to Canada, the JJR Marshall Racing #41 team trekked back into the State as they found themselves in Michigan for the next scheduled event on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series event at Hartford Speedway. There were 27 speed competitors lined up in the pit area at the half-mile oval where Shane Stewart waved the checkered flag last year when the tour starts visited for the Battle of Michigan.
Jeremy Schultz, from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, kicked off time trials as he revved his engine and turned in two good laps around the surface at Hartford. Jason Johnson was already ready in the staging area as he would be the fifth car to push off in time trials aboard the Fischer Body Shop/Kenny’s Components #41 Maxim. David Gravel had raised the bar with a lap of 13.731 seconds, so the Ragin’ Cajun summoned the horses from his Kistler Engines powerplant to get going. The ponies were at full gallop when he took the green flag and his first lap was a good one at 13.855 seconds, which was second quick. He stayed on the hammer and turned in a consistent, but slightly slower, second lap coming in at 13.863 seconds. As he patiently waited for the remaining 22 drivers to complete their laps, the forty-one remained on the board as the second quickest when the final checker flag flew.
Earning the pole position in the second heat race, Philip and the JJR Marshall Racing team went to work to ready the Maxim Racing machine for battle in the eight lap races where the top two go to the Craftsman Club Dash and four more lock into the A-Main. The cars lined up in their traditional two-by-two order with Jeremy Schultz sharing the front row with the Ragin’ Cajun as Brad Sweet, Logan Schuchart, Joe Swanson, Ryan Ruhl, Chad Blonde, Max McGhee and Jason Steinebach rounding out the starting order, When the green flag dropped Jason drove into the lead in his Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/Weld Racing entry with Brad Sweet pressing him for the position. Sweet would eventually wrestle it away as Jason was now giving chase with Schuchart running in the show position. Sweet would take the win with Jason coming home second to earn the two spots in the Craftsman Club Dash as Schuchart, Schultz, Ruhl and Blonde secured the final four transfer spots to the feature.
There were six drivers who earned a spot in the 6-lap Craftsman Club Dash at Harford Speedway and Jason Johnson was one of them along with heat race winners David Gravel, Brad Sweet, and Shane Stewart and fellow runner-up finishers Paul McMahan and Jason Sides. An inversion pill of four was pulled which put the driver of the forty-one in the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Valvoline machine on the inside of row three in the fifth starting position with Jason Sides to the right side of his nerf bar. Polesitter Paul McMahan and fellow front row starter Shane Stewart brought the field to the green with Stewart getting to the clean air first. Jason was running sixth as the dirty air churned with Stewart collecting the win over Sweet, Gravel, Sides and McMahan with Jason claiming the final spot.
There were 30 laps left to race on this night as the track was slicking off and becoming a very technical and tactical surface for the competitors. After the WoO traditional four wide salute to the fans it was time to go racing in Jakob Weaver’s home state of Michigan. Brad Sweet jumped into the lead, but here came the Ragin’ Cajun using what he could find on the topside of the track. He made his way all the way up to second before the traction wore away and he started to get shuffled back in the running order. He ran in the top five for the first third of the race and was just outside looking in over the next ten laps. Enduring numerous cautions and one red flag stoppage the teams were searching for ways to get a hold of the track while positioning themselves to make a passed versus being passed. If you gave up the bottom line you were exposed. Gravel briefly took the lead from Sweet on laps 9 and 10 before Sweet drove the NAPA Auto Parts #49 back into the top spot. Gravel would reclaim the lead on lap 28 and collect the win over Sweet, Schuchart, and Brent Marks with Kraig Kinser driving home fourth. Jason hung on to gather an eleventh-place finish in the Waco Metal/Jonestown KOA #41, his 43rd Top 15 finish of the season – an impressive 72.88% success rate, as the team will now head to Wilmot Raceway for action on Saturday night.