TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA (July 12, 2020) – After the engines silenced at the end of the night in Wilmot, Wisconsin, Philip Dietz and the victorious JJR #41 team had work ahead of them as they had to clean the cars and head 5 hours south to Indiana to prepare to race again Sunday evening in the 2020 Wabash Clash at the historic 1/2-mile semi-banked oval at Terre Haute Action Track in Terre Haute. The skies were ominous with dark clouds to the west and north and sun over the track and to the south.
There is so much history at this dirt track located within the Vigo County Fairgrounds. As the Indiana Racing Memorial Association historical sign reads outside the grandstands, “Some of the world’s best drivers have completed on the famed oval, including A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, Jim Hurtubise, Al Unser Sr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.” Because of the long history of racing talent that track has earned the nickname “The Action Track” for the non-stop racing thrills and excitement witnessed there since its 1952 creation. This night would be no different as there were 23 talented drivers in the pits with names like Schatz, Sweet, Schuchart, Gravel, Pittman, Stewart and Macedo to name just a few all worthy of someday adding their name to the list of racing all-time greats that competed here at the famous speed plant nestled in western Indiana off Interstate 70.
This track is just an incredible piece of history from the red, white and blue walls to the covered grandstands that were occupied with sprint racing diehards ready to watch some of the best in the business. Time trials has a way of separating the field based on each driver’s top speed, which is the focused intent. Your defending Knoxville Nationals Champion, David Gravel, would be the second to last car to push off for his two laps at speed in The Boyd Family/AutoMeter/Buckwalter Trucking #41 Maxim. After racing on some smaller bullring type facilities in the recent weeks, the laps around this big half-mile oval must feel like a long Sunday drive for the competitors. A very fast one of course as there was definitely no bathroom stops along the way allowed. Gravel did his best to keep his Kistler Engines/Engler Machine & Tool horsepower engaged as he turned his first lap in 17.278 seconds. He carried his speed and momentum back into turn one and kept the hammer down as he darted down the long back straightway. His second lap came in at 16.985 seconds, with the quicker of the two laps ending up 6th quick overall for the night.
The 8-lap Drydene Heat Races were next on the evening’s racing action agenda. David would line up from the outside of the front row in the third heat race event in the Weikert’s Livestock/FK Rod Ends/Walker Performance Filtration Maxim. Shane Stewart was sitting on the pole with Brad Sweet and Daryn Pittman in row two. Bill Rose, Dominic Scelzi and Kyle Schuett made up the remainder of the field as they lined up two-by-two ready to take the green flag. It was a drag race down the frontstretch for the top two as Stewart drove hard into turn one to take the lead over Gravel and the boogied down the long backstretch. Stewart was sailing in the Indy Race Parts #71 as Gravel was maneuvering around the cushion in the Durst, Inc./AutoMeter Race Products #41 Maxim. Sweet was running in the third position but Pittman wanted it and drove underneath him to take it. Shane Stewart drove to the heat race win with Gravel coming home second followed by Pittman, and Sweet with Scelzi rounding out the top five.
David Gravel made his way into the 6-lap DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash where he would start from the fourth starting spot. Logan Schuchart and Kerry Madsen were sitting in row one with Carson Macedo and David Gravel holding down the two spots in the second row as Shane Stewart and Sheldon Haudenschild rounded out the starting lineup in row three. When the green flag waved, it was Schuchart to the lead as Gravel wheeled the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/T-Fab Custom Metal Fabrication/Schoenfeld Headers #41 from the fourth position as he was battling with Macedo. With two laps to go Gravel started to close on Macedo. As the two were going down the back straightaway Gravel was positioning to make a pass on the low side but Macedo closed the door. Schuchart went on to take the victory over Madsen, Macedo, Gravel and Stewart with Haudenschild coming across the finish line sixth.
After the track crew made their final preparations to the surface it was time for the 30-lap Wabash Clash feature event as the competitors rolled out onto the big half-mile oval. Gravel rolled the High Performance Lubricants/J.R.C. Transportation/KSE Racing Products #41 Maxim out on the track and awaited the push truck to tap on his rear nerf bar to get his Kistler Engines power to come to life. With the evening sky slowly turning to nighttime the field was pacing around the track as they aligned in their side-by-side starting order by row. Logan Schuchart was on the pole and was ready to bring the field down the front straightaway to take the green flag. Schuchart led lap one as David Gravel was racing from the third position. It was Schuchart, Madsen, Gravel and Macedo battling at the front of the field. Macedo and Gravel were in a fierce battle for the third position and Macedo would race underneath the #41 to take it on lap two just before the red flag was displayed for Kraig Kinser who flipped in turn four. Under the race stoppage Parker Price-Miller headed to the work area to get a new left front tire before rejoining the field. When they restarted the race, Schuchart fired first and drove his Drydene DRF #1s into the lead over Madsen. Macedo then drove by Madsen and Gravel did the same the next lap. Gravel then started to try to make the pass of Macedo for the runner-up position with 5 laps in the books, but the yellow flag flew for a spinning Sheldon Haudenschild in turn four. Haudenschild did not come to a complete stop so he blended into the restart order. It was Schuchart and Macedo starting side-by-side with Schuchart keeping the top spot. Shane Stewart and Brad Sweet both raced by Gravel on the restart. Now running in the fifth spot Gravel was now looking to regain his speed. He carried his momentum forward and passed Stewart back for the fourth spot in turn one. Just before the halfway point the yellow was displayed this time for second running Carson Macedo who spun and hit the inside frontstretch wall hard. The driver was fine and headed to the work area. Under the caution Brad Sweet also headed to the work area with a flat right rear tire.
With 17 laps to go, and open red flag was displayed to refuel and make minor adjustments with Schuchart leading with David Gravel now running second. When the re-fired the engines it was time to get back to high speed racing action. Gravel got wide on the restart with Stewart, Madsen and Pittman drove by on the low side. He was now if fifth before surrendering that to a hard charging Donny Schatz. Another yellow flag out this time for Zach Hartman who spun in turn four. With 13 laps to go, it was Schuchart leading as they would restart side-by-side again. This time Gravel raced the MVT/Engler Machine & Tool Maxim back into the top five as he passed both Donny Schatz and Kerry Madsen through turn one to move into the fourth position. He was racing hard and now had his sights set on Shane Stewart. The yellow was again out this time for Brad Sweet who was sitting on the backstretch as well as Parker Price-Miller who broke a rear axle. Gravel would restart from the fourth position with Shane Stewart to his inside as Schuchart and Pittman were on the front row. They restarted the race but before a lap was fully completed sixth running Ayrton Gennetten flipped hard after contact with Kerry Madsen in turn four to bring out the red. A complete restart, this time a single file restart, saw Schuchart maintain the lead over Pittman Gravel fighting for position with Shane Stewart and Donny Schatz. When the yellow flew with 10 laps to go for Jason Sides it was Schuchart, Pittman, Gravel, Schatz and Stewart comprising the top five for the restart of the race. They would stay that way before Schatz ad Gravel exchanged positions in the running order. With three laps to go another caution was shown this time for Paul May who slowed on the backstretch as he ran out of fuel. They restarted and Schuchart finished the deal as he took the win over Schatz, Pittman and Stewart with David bringing the forty-one home fifth. A good run for the JJR #41 driver and team on a night of numerous race stoppages.
Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT); Saich Family; 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 Auto Reconditioning; AutoMeter; Bell Racing USA; Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS); Buckwalter Trucking, LLC; C&R Racing; Chalk Stix Torsion Bars; 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; Kistler Racing Engines; KSE Racing Products; LogoDaddy Graphics; Max Papis Innovations (MPI); MSD Performance; RaceDiecast.com; Schoenfeld Headers; Shell Shock Paint; Simpson Race Products; T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication; Vortex Racing Products; Walker Performance Filtration; Weld Wheels; Wilwood Racing; and Winters Performance Products.
To stay connected with Jason Johnson Racing (JJR), go to www.jasonjohnsonracing.com.
To stay up-to-date with David Gravel and his success and journey on and off the track, as well as to purchase his gear and merchandise, go to www.DavidGravel89.com.