CALHAN, COLORADO (September 14, 2016) – Jason and the JJR #41 crew headed to Colorado with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at El Paso County Raceway for the first time since 2005. Calhan, Colorado is a neat little town that was established in 1888 as a water station for the now defunct Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. But there is a cool little quarter mile bullring located off Highway 24 that welcomed the traveling sprint car speed stars to the community on Wednesday night. There were 24 speed chauffeurs registered in the pit area to race in front of the capacity filled grandstands.
Jason pushed out second aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Schoenfeld Headers #41 for his two time trial laps. He was up on the wheel as he charged under the green flag and when his transponder crossed the line after his first time around the clock read 12.859 seconds. Keeping his speed up around the slicked off track, he turned in a consistent, but slightly slower lap at 12.903 seconds. The quicker of his two qualifying laps ended up ninth quick overall on the night.
There were three 10-lap heat races on tap and Jason would start third in heat three beside Joey Saldana and behind David Gravel and Shane Stewart who manned row one. The top two from each of the heat races earned a spot in the Craftsman Club Dash event, so the Eunice, Louisiana born owner/driver need to pick up the pace if he wanted one of those two coveted positions. Gravel led the field when the green flag was waved with Stewart, Johnson and Saldana giving chase. The Ragin’ Cajun kept digging and started to close in on Stewart who was holding down the runner-up spot. On lap seven, Jason made his move in the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/Kenny’s Components Maxim and passed Stewart to take the second spot. Gravel went on to take the heat race win over Jason, Stewart, Saldana and Jake Bubak with Jeremy McCune locking down the final transfer position.
It was on to the 8-lap Craftsman Club Dash where Lady Luck appeared as an inversion pill of six was pulled putting Jason on the pole for the event with Donny Schatz to his outside. It was a formidable field as Jason Sides and David Gravel were in row two with Logan Schuchart and Brad Sweet in row three. When the green flag dropped, Jason pounded the loud pedal and wheeled his way to the front of the pack in his Fischer Body Shop/FK Shocks #41 with Schatz giving chase. The Cajun Sensation was setting the pace and showing the way. He would go on to capture the Dash victory as Schatz, Gravel, Sweet and Sides crossed the finish line behind him with Schuchart rounding out the field with his sixth place finish.
Earning the pole position for the 40-lap feature, Philip, Jeff and Jakob made their final adjustments to the car as Jason climbed into his Fibreworks Composites custom fitted seat and pulled on his Shell Shock custom painted Bell Racing helmet. Securing his Crow Enterprizes safety belts, he rolled into the staging lane with his race strategy in his mind and his game face on. His Kistler engine under the hood came to life and he rolled around the hardened surface. After the four-wide salute to the fans, it was time to go racing in The Centennial State. When the yellow lights were replaced by the green ones, Jason dropped his right foot and took the lead. Second place running Donny Schatz slid over the cushion in turn four and dropped back to 15th place, but David Gravel and Jason Sides were in hot pursuit. There was no rest for the weary as there were five cautions throughout the event and every time one flew Jason maintained the lead, but it was always a fierce and competitive battle to maintain the top spot. He and Brad Sweet were embroiled in some clean, fun racing for the top paying position in the field as the two talent drivers wheeled their entries around El Paso County Raceway. Working his way back into the picture was Schatz. He was putting on a show and exhibiting all of his talent in his aggressive drive back into the top three when the final caution flew with seven laps to go. Schatz would eventually get by Sweet for the runner-up spot, but was not able to track down the Ragin’ Cajun for the win as Jason was the first driver to the checkered flag on this night as he led Schatz, Sweet, Schuchart and Sides across the finish line aboard his Jonestown KOA/FK Rod Ends #41 Maxim Racing hot rod.
In victory lane, he climbed on top of his tail tank to celebrate with his son Jaxx as both were smiling ear-to-ear as they raised their one finger in the air to display their finishing position on the night at El Paso County Raceway. The happy winner exclaimed, “I’m surrounded by a great group of guys!” He continued, “Including Tim Engler! Because the altitude is so different here, we worked with Tim all last week preparing for tonight. He definitely helped us out to get our Kistler engine running pretty good.”
They sure did put on a great race for the fans on a track that slicked off earlier than expected. Jason made a point to compliment his fellow competitor, Brad Sweet, on their race for the lead spot throughout the night. He explained, “Brad was doing a hell of a job. Hats off to him and his (KKR) race team. I saw Brad there the first restart in turns three and four, and he raced me clean. He’s a class-act. I can’t thank him enough. I want to thank the crowd. It’s nice to come to Colorado.”
The win was the Ragin’ Cajun’s third World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win of the 2016 year, all of which happened in three different states with some races left to go. It certainly was another great run for the forty-one!!