MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (October 2, 2020) – With cool Fall temperatures lingering in the Keystone State air along with the beauty and vibrant colors associated with the foliage changing leaves on the trees, David Gravel and the stars of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Series were back in Central Pennsylvania for one of the crown jewel events on the schedule each year at Williams Grove Speedway – the 58thAnnual Champion Racing Oil National Open. It would be David’s 600th World of Outlaws start in his still young and budding career. As you walked through the pit area you could feel the excitement as the teams prepared their entries for the first of two nights of high speed action at the historic race track on the hallowed grounds in the cornfields that surround Mechanicsburg. For the Friday night portion of the show there were 57 teams registered and parked throughout the frontstretch and backstretch pit areas for the competitors.
The lineup order to go out for time trials was set as each of the teams pulled a pill in the random draw to see each driver would go out for qualifying. For this premier event the pit area was pack, so the field was separated into two separate flights for time trial qualifying. David would be the fifteenth 410 driver to push off in Flight B for his two lap challenge in the J.R.C. Transportation/ Weikert’s Livestock #41 Maxim. He mashed the gas and built up speed using the power being generated by his Kistler Engines/Engler Machine and Tool motor as he worked his way to the green flag. When he crossed the timing stripe and took the green, the thousandths of a second were moving by quickly on the clock measuring his progress as Gravel was wheeling around the famous paperclip shaped half mile oval. He was smooth and when he took the white flag signifying he had one more lap to go, the time for his first lap popped up at 16.573 seconds. He stayed on the throttle and was searching to see if there was any more left in himself, the car and track the next time around. He found something as he took the checkered flag and this time improved his time with a lap of 16.419 seconds. The better of his two laps was quick time overall in Flight B.
Time trials are important for a couple reasons, but the first benefit of a good lap time in qualifying is it positions you near the front of a Drydene heat race lineup. When scanning the posted lineups, David Gravel and the Durst Inc./Winters Performance Products #41 would start from the pole position in the third heat race. With such a talented field of entries there would be no “easy” heat race for anyone to wish for on this night. The fact of the matter is every driver and team would need to bring their best every time they hit the track if they wanted to compete with some of the most talented sprint car fields racing has to offer. In the third 8-lap heat race, David and Jacob Allen would get started from the front row with Lance Dewease and Donny Schatz pacing close behind in row two. In row three it was Zeb Wise and Brian Brown as Jason Sides shared row four with Danny Dietrich with Robbie Kendall and Steve Buckwalter making up row five. With only 5 drivers transferring to the money paying feature, and the top two finishers advancing on to the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash, they would need to get their elbows up early and lay down perfect laps at speed each and every time around Williams Grove’s clay surface. When Gravel approached the chalk stripe located in turn four, he led the field to the green flag and into turn one. Allen was in second with Schatz looking to make a pass early. Gravel used the clean air to his advantage and with each completed lap he extended his lead slightly. He was wheeling the forty-one at the front of the pack and led wire-to-wire to take the win by 1.369 seconds over Jacob Allen who held off Schatz for the runner up position. Lance Dewease came home fourth and Brian Brown raced home in the fifth and final transfer position.
Making his way into his 37th DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash in 2020, Gravel was lucky on this night and pulled the ‘2’ pill to position the J.R.C. Transportation/Factory Kahne Shocks #41 on the front row with polesitter Freddie Rahmer. Shane Stewart would start third after setting a New Track Record (NTR) in time trials with a lap of 16.111 seconds with Kyle Larson in fourth. James McFadden, Anthony Macri, Aaron Reutzel and Jacob Allen completed the starting order. When the yellow lights were shut off and the green flag waved it was Rahmer keeping the top spot over Gravel entering turn one. Rahmer was enjoying the view ahead as Gravel was looking for an opportunity to make a pass. Rahmer was fast and relentless as he led all 6 laps to take the win and earn the pole position for the feature as Gravel came home second 0.927 seconds behind. The top two finishers were followed by Larson, Stewart. Macri, McFadden, Allen and Reutzel to set the starting grid order for the first four rows.
For the opening night, 25-lap National Open feature the field was set. The normal 24 car field was expanded to 30 cars when the provisional spots were declared. Philip Dietz, Clyde Knipp and Nate Repetz went about their business and worked to make their car the best they could for their driver. After the fireworks subsided, Gravel climbed into his ButlerBUILT Professional Seat System and was ready to get rolling. The grandstands were packed. The pits were packed. And, the track was packed with incredible talent as they were ready to put on a show. When the field rolled to the green flag, David powered into the lead off the outside of the front row ahead of Freddie Rahmer who was representing the Pennsylvania Posse. He was on rails and making hay at the front of the pack. So much so that he caught the back of the pack and started to lap cars by the seventh circuit. He was in a zone and making the most of the speed he had. He continued to carry his momentum lap after lap, but as he was navigating lapped traffic things got tight a few times. Meanwhile Kyle Larson was working on Rahmer for the runner-up position with 10 laps to go. Gravel would not be denied and collected his eighth victory of the season, sixth in World of Outlaws competition in his 600 start, over Larson and Rahmer with Aaron Reutzel charging home fourth and Anthony Macri rounding out the top five. A jubilant driver climbed out of the cockpit to celebrate with his team, family and friends. HE reflected, “I had a couple of close calls. I had no idea what kind of lead I had.” He continued, “When I passed a lap car, they poked their nose at me, and I didn’t think that was a very good corner. It was a lot of work up there on the curb. It started getting built up pretty big. I knew I just had to attack, attack, attack. When Kyle is behind you, you know you have to run all 25 laps hard.” He concluded by stating, “It’s all about putting yourself in position. You’re not going to win every time front the front row, but you like your chances.” He made the most of his “chance” for sure. A great night for the forty-one!
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.