TULARE, CALIFORNIA (March 12, 2016) – Jason and the JJR team, along with their fellow World of Outlaw (WoO) Craftsman Series competitors, headed to the West Coast for the first time in the 2016 season when they visited Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California. Any time you go to California you know the pits will be filled with quality drivers and competition. On this night there were 39 cars in the pit area. The California regulars make it difficult to even make the show, let alone put yourself in position for the win.
On a heavy and fast racing surface the first of two flights of qualifying kicked off with 20 cars time trialing in the first set and the remaining 19 cars in the second set. Jason would go out in the second set in the Fischer Body Shop/Wilwood Disc Brakes #41 Maxim. The quickest of his two laps came in at 12.798 seconds, which was 10th quick in the second flight and 14th overall.
When the heat race lineups were scribed on the whiteboard, the Priority Aviation Services, LLC/K&N Filters Maxim Racing machine would start from the inside of row three in the fourth heat race. Brian Brown and Sammy Swindell made up row one and would bring the field up to speed as the field ran under the flag stand. The race was under green and the racing surface was narrow. Passing was at a premium as Terry McCarl and Jason Sides snuck by the 2015 WoO Rookie of the Year at the start. California native, Willie Croft, stole the lead from his fourth starting spot and would take the win over Brown, Swindell and Kyle Hirst with McCarl securing the fifth and final transfer spot. Jason brought the forty one home in the seventh position.
Forced to run the Last Chance Showdown (LCS), Jason was focused on securing one of the final four transfer spot to the coveted A-Main. The Louisiana native would start from the outside of row two with Trey Starks to his left. Austen Wheatley and Paul McMahan were on the front row and powered the field into turn one with McMahan leading the way. Jason steered his way into the third spot and was chasing the front two throughout the 12-lap event. McMahan would take the win ahead of Wheatley, and Jason with Jason Sides stealing the last transfer spot.
The 35-lap feature was the next order of business. With the track heavy and narrow, everyone was trying to figure out how they were going to pass. The Cajun Sensation climbed into the cockpit of his Maxim Racing chassis and pulled down to secure his Crow Enterprizes safety harness as he was ready to go. He rolled out onto the 1/3-mile high banked clay oval ready to battle for everything he could get. Willie Croft and David Gravel showed the way from the front of the pack as Jason lined up on the inside of the twelfth row beside Jason Sides at the opposite end of the field. Gravel would jumped into the lead right at the green flag as Croft did a wheel stand coming out of four with everyone else giving chase. Jason was being patient and methodical as he made his way through the early stages of the race. A red flag for Justin Sanders halted the field. When racing resumed, Gravel led Shane Stewart as the Ragin’ Cajun continued his trek forward. On another restart, Croft got sideways at the front of the pack bunching up the field with the drivers in the middle of the field like Joey Saldana, Kerry Madsen, Logan Schuchart, DJ Netto and Kyle Hirst getting caught up in the melee as Jason rolled to a slow stop on the front stretch to avoid the carnage of the accident scene. When the racing got rolling again Stewart continued to chase Gravel for the lead, but Gravel would go on to take his first victory of the year with Stewart coming home in the second positions followed by Croft, and Brad Sweet with Sammy Swindell rounding out the top five.
Jason came home with a 12th place finish aboard the Priority Aviation/Fischer Body Shop #41. He passed 11 cars on a tough track to earn his third KSE Hard Charger Award of the young 2016 season. Jason and the team will continue their California tour next weekend at the FVP Spring Shootout at the Stockton Dirt Track.