MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (July 22, 2016) – It was a hot day in Central Pennsylvania, but everyone was equally heated up over the fact that the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series was in town for the two-day Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals. There were 38 cars signed into the pit area and fans waiting in long lines to get into Williams Grove Speedway to see the best in the business go at each other around this historic half mile oval. The fan’s coolers were stocked with their beverages of choice and they were ready for some racing.
Time trials were split into two separate flights, with Jason aboard the Jonestown KOA/Weld Racing #41 entry scheduled to be in Flight B. He would be the 20th car out overall, but the first competitor in Flight B, and on his first lap he blasted through turns one and two and then dove low going through turns three and four. When he darted across the start finish line on the front straightaway he stopped the clock at 17.251 seconds. That lap was the quickest of the night at that point in qualifying. He tried a different line the second time around the Grove’s surface as he leaned up against the cushion mid-track, but this strategy would result in a lap that would be slower coming in at 17.680 seconds. When the final qualifier came off the track, Jason’s impressive time would be third quick in Flight B and third quick overall, behind Daryn Pittman and Jacob Allen. A great start to the night for the forty-one.
When the WoO officials posted the heat race lineups, the Ragin’ Cajun would be starting on the outside of the front row beside Daryn Pittman in the third heat race. It was certainly a loaded heat race with names like David Gravel, Lucas Wolfe, Lance Dewease, Brian Montieth, Shane Stewart and Ryan Smith all lined up behind the front row. When the cars came to the chalk line in turn four, the Louisiana gasser jumped on the accelerator and screamed down the front straightway as he entered on the low side going into turn one with the lead in the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/K&N Filters #41 Maxim. Pittman was giving chase as Dewease, Wolfe and Gravel battled it out for the show position. Jason would control the point position in the JJR #41 for the entire eight laps as Pittman finished second in the KKR #9 ahead of Dewease in the Kreitz #69k and Wolfe in the Zemco #1z with Gravel securing the final transfer spot in the CJB #5.
On to the Dash, Jason 21st of the 2016 season – a 35% success rate, where the pre-inversion lineup had him sitting on the front row. After Johnny Gibson interviewed the Louisiana driver on the front straightaway, a young fan pulled the inversion pill. Everyone in the JJR camp was hoping for a “0”, but it was a “6” pill, which meant Jason would start on the inside of row three aboard the Waco Metal/Winters Performance Products #41. Daryn Pittman and Aaron Ott made up row one with Greg Hodnett and Jacob Allen in row two. Joey Saldana shared row three with Jason as Stevie Smith and Tim Shaffer comprised row four. Pittman would jump into the lead as Jason got shuffled back to sixth on the initial start. He got his elbows up and closed the gap as he was looking to regaining his starting position. After 6 laps, Pittman took the Dash victory over Ott, Hodnett and Saldana with Jason coming home fifth and Smith, Allen and Shaffer rounding out the field.
So far, so good for the forty-one team. The last event of the night was the 25-lap feature event. Philip, Jeff and Jakob made their final adjustments and went over the whole car as they tightened every bolt. Jason climbed into his Fibreworks Composites custom fitted seat, buckled his red Crow Enterprizes safety belts as he secured the chin strap on his Shell Shock custom painted Bell Helmet. He was focused and ready to go. After the four-wide salute to the fans, with Johnny Gibson announcing it as the most awesome sight in motorsports, it was time to go racing. When the green flag was unfurled, Pittman took the lead ahead of Ott and Hodnett. Jason was running in the seventh position on lap seven when the red flag was displayed for Brad Sweet as he flipped coming out of turn four. When racing resumed on the restart, Jason dove between Saldana and Smith Jr. as they powered up to speed and chased down Aaron Ott as he made the pass through one and two. The Ragin’ Cajun was on the move in his Maxim missile. The green lights were replaced by yellow one as Brock Zearfoss slowed down the back stretch. Jason was running third now and had his eyes set on Pittman and Hodnett. They went back to green flag racing and the top three were nose-to-tail. The race was on but another yellow was displayed for a slowing Danny Dietrich and Lucas Wolfe on lap 14. Jason would restart third but a hard charging Lance Dewease would shuffle him back to fourth. On the next circuit, Jason’s night would come to an early end as Donny Schatz attempted a slider and made contact with Jason sending the forty-one flipping in turn four as he collected Tim Shaffer. Jason’s great run came to an unnecessary end as he had a top five car. He was scored with a 20th place finish as Pittman took the opening night victory over Dewease, Hodnett, Smith and Schatz. Disappointing for sure, but he was raised well in Louisiana. Being the ultimate professional, he changed out of his uniform and met with fans long after the race was completed as he signed autographs and took pictures with a smile on his face. Saturday is a new day and new opportunity to do great things!