GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA (August 16, 2019) – What do you do after winning the biggest sprint car race in the world, the Knoxville Nationals . . . well, you get back to work and prepare your team and equipment to continue to succeed and head out to the next race on the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series schedule. That track, on Friday evening, would be the 3/10-mile oval known as River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota. There were a total of 31 cars lined up along the backstretch pit area and one of those was the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) #41 Maxim of David Gravel.
After hot laps concluded, it was time to set the order of the heats as each driver took to the track for their two time trial laps against the clock. Your 2019 Knoxville Nationals champion, David Gravel, would have to be patient though as he would be the 26th car out on the track for his time on the ticking clock. After Jacob Allen complete his two circuits, Gravel drove onto the track off turn four aboard his Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Jonestown KOA #41 and pounded the loud pedal. He was up to speed and took the green flag to start the clock. He wheeled his Weld Racing wheels around the dark clay and stopped the clock in 10.624 seconds, which was 10th quick at the time he crossed the stripe. He turned a slightly slower lap at 10.821 seconds the next time around, but when the last qualifier took the checkers the quicker of his two laps held up for 11th quick overall as Ian Madsen turned a better lap.
When the World of Outlaws officials posted the three heat race lineups, the talented Watertown, Connecticut driver would start fourth in the second heat race. Daryn Pittman would sit on the pole position with Tim Kaeding to his outside, with Shane Stewart pacing to Gravel’s inside on row two as Kerry Madsen and Jacob Allen nestled in to row three. When the green flag waved, Pittman charged into the top spot as Gravel situated the Weikert’s Livestock/Engler Machine & Tool #41 into the show position behind Kaeding. That would not last long though as Gravel drove in low the next time around into turn one and took command of the runner-up position. Pittman had built a solid lead, but Gravel was digging with his Hoosier Racing Tires and was able to carve into the gap with each completed lap. Gravel was closing, but the laps were counting down. Unfortunately, Gravel ran out of time as Pittman took the win by 0.731 seconds over Gravel with Kaeding coming home third, Stewart fourth with Madsen in fifth and Allen securing the sixth and final transfer position to the feature event.
Gravel earned a spot in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash and was fortunate enough to start on the outside of the front row when all the numbers were drawn in the redraw. He would be joined by Brad Sweet with Logan Schuchart and Daryn Pittman in row two and Donny Schatz and Sheldon Haudenschild in row three. Eight laps of racing with the finishing order establishing the starting lineup for the first three rows of the feature event. When the flagman unfurled the green cloth, Gravel drove the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/Durst Inc. #41 Maxim into the lead over Sweet who was just off his right rear tire. The Kistler Engines power under the hood of the JJR #41 was delivering the horsepower need and Philip Dietz, the JJR #41 crew chief, had the car balanced and bad fast. Gravel drove to the win over Sweet, by 1.353 seconds with Schuchart, Pittman, Haudenschild and Schatz rounding out the finishing order.
With the eight minute horn sounding, the JJR crew finalized their last minute adjustments and Gravel pulled on his Simpson Race Products helmet as he was ready to battle the racy and technical surface at River Cities Speedway. After the four-wide salute to the packed house of racing fans, it was time to kick off the Second Leg of the Northern Tour. Gravel and Sweet were perched at the front of the field and when the green flag waved it was Gravel getting to the clean air first in The Boyd Family/Greber Racing Components #41 Maxim. He would lead the first lap before the night started to get wild. The red flag was displayed for Nick Omdahl who clipped the wall coming off turn four and flipped with his car getting stuck in the frontstretch fence just before the flag stand. After a long delay to retrieve the car and fix the fence, it was time to for the competitors to get back up to speed. Gravel would again use his KSE Racing Products to steer into the lead over Sweet with the full field giving chase. Six laps into the race the leaders had already caught the back of the field and were maneuvering through lapped traffic. Gravel was in control, but Logan Schuchart was now in second with Sheldon Haudenschild in the third spot and both were coming forward fast. All was going smoothly with Gravel leading until lap 16 when Brendan Mullen flipped coming out of turn two. The wildness of the night continued as Mullen’s car launched off the track and landed perfectly on the fence. Actually he stuck the landing as the car was sitting on top of the fence and poles versus in the fence. After conferring together, track and WoO officials decided to leave the car up there until after the races so they could carefully and safely extract the car properly. After another extended open red delay, the engines re-fired with Gravel still in the lead. When the lights around the track illuminated green again and the field was up to speed, 10-time champion and North Dakota native Donny Schatz catapulted into the lead as he got underneath Gravel and started to check out on the field. Gravel was relentless in his pursuit of the leader, but he now had Schuchart to deal with in order to retain the runner-up position. After 40 green flag laps, Schatz took the win by a dominant 5.996 seconds over Gravel with Schuchart finishing third as Ian Madsen and Carson Macedo rounded out the top five. It was Gravel’s and the JJR team’s 32nd top five finish of the 2019 season – an incredible 61.54% top five success rate. Another great run for the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) forty-one!
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; RaceDiecast.com; Schoenfeld Headers; Shell Shock Paint; Simpson Race Products; T-FAB Custom Metal Fabrication; Vortex Racing Products; 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.