MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA (July 25, 2020) – The team traveled across the Susquehanna River and arrived at the track with the bridge. When you enter the gates at Williams Grove Speedway there is a lot that speaks to the tracks rich heritage and history. The blue bridge that crosses over the back straightaway is one of many noticeable historic markers unique to Williams Grove. The impressive list of drivers who have competed and won at this track is a Who’s Who list of National Sprint Car Hall of Famers like: Tommy Hinnershitz and A.J. Foyt, Jr. (Class of 1990); Lynn Paxton (Class of 1996); Bobby Allen (Class of 1998); Steve Smith (Class of 2000); Larry “Smokey” Snellbaker (Class of 2002); Doug Wolfgang (Class of 2003); Keith Kauffman (Class of 2004); Steve Kinser (Class of 2005); Sammy Swindell (Class of 2006); Kenny Jacobs (Class of 2007); Kramer Williamson (Class of 2008); Jac Haudenschild and Fred Rahmer (Class of 2009); Bobby Davis, Jr., Dave Blaney and Mark Kinser (2014); Donald Kreitz, Jr. (Class of 2015); Lance Dewease (Class of 2018); Stevie Smith and Jason Johnson (Class of 2019); and, Greg Hodnett (Class of 2020) just to name a few notables.
David Gravel’s name already appears on the winner’s list with six previous wins at this historic speed plant, but he along with his JJR #41 team were looking to add to that win total in the finale of the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals. There were 32 teams ready to compete for the $20,000 winner’s share of the purse at the end of the night as the teams prepared for qualifying in time trials. After pulling the 48 pill, David would be the 23rd racer out on the track in the All Pro Auto Reconditioning/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS) #41 Maxim. He was on the accelerator and building speed as he took the green on lap one. He bolted through turns one and two and shot down the back straightaway. The clock read 14.489 seconds when he completed the first circuit. He stayed on the loud pedal and was building speed and momentum. Unfortunately he did not have time entering turn three to wave to the great folks that make up the BeerHill Gang as he was focused on hitting his lines. His second lap was faster at 17.216 seconds, which when Jordan Givler completed his laps at speed David Gravel was 3rd quick overall.
When the 8-lap Drydene Heat Race lineups were posted the Buckwalter Trucking, LLC/ISC Racers Tape/Pro Powder Coating (PPC) #41 would start from the pole position in the third heat race. Brad Sweet would start to his outside as T.J. Stutts and his teammate Parker Price-Miller followed behind in row two. The outside lane seemed to be the faster lane at this point of the night as the first two heat winners won from the outside row. Gravel would cross the chalk stripe and power down as he raced Sweet down the frontstretch. Sweet took command of the lead with Gravel running right behind. The top two drivers were fast and checking out. Sweet was building a slight lead as the Watertown. Connecticut racer was getting into his groove. At the halfway point of the race Gravel started to reel in the leader lap after lap. The gap was closing but he ran out of laps as Sweet beat him to the finish line by 0.428 seconds. The top two finishers were followed by Stutts and Price-Miller with Shaffer securing the fifth and final transfer position.
The dash redraw was next up on the evening’s agenda for the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. This is such a crucial part of the night and when David approach the over-sized NOS Energy Drink can in his orange Durst Inc./JET Fitness 24/7 driver’s suit there was a four and an eight pill remaining. As luck would have it he drew the lower of the two numbers to start from the outside of row two in the 6-lap race to determine the starting spot in the first 4 rows. Brock Zearfoss and Donny Schatz were on the front row as Lance Dewease was Gravel’s partner in row two. Jacob Allen and Brad Sweet made up row three, with Logan Schuchart and Shane Stewart rounding out the starting field. At the start, Schatz jumped into the lead over Zearfoss as Gravel drove the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Weikert’s Livestock #41 into third heading into turn one. He passed Zearfoss as he moved into the runner-up spot before the completion of lap one. Schatz was leading Gravel and Zearfoss with Sweet running fourth. At the midway point of the dash the yellow was displayed for Shane Stewart. On the restart Zearfoss made a bold racing move to drive cleanly into the second position behind Schatz on lap 4. Gravel was right on Zearfoss’ rear nerf bar and drove in low and hard to retake the lead coming off of turn two. Schatz would take the win to earn the pole for the 30-lap feature with Gravel coming home second followed by Zearfoss, Sweet, Allen, Dewease and Schuchart with Stewart being scored in the final position.
With all of the qualifying action in the books it was finally the time everyone had been waiting for . . . the finale of the Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway. 30-laps around the historic half-mile with 25 of the best sprint cars drivers in the country. Philip Dietz, crew chief of the JJR #41, made his final setup decisions and adjustments for the J.R.C. Transportation, Inc./FK Rod Ends #41 Maxim so his driver had the best chance to succeed at speed. Gravel climbed into his BUTLERBUILT Professional Seat System with his Sharp Advantage inserts and buckled in tightly for the race ahead. He would start second in the grid with Donny Schatz to his inside. The drivers went four-wide to salute the fans before dropping back into the two-by-two starting format. Polesitter Schatz kicked the dirt up and brought the field up to speed down the front straightaway. But it was Gravel to the front of the pack as he used his Kistler Engines power into the lead entering the first turn. Gravel was leading the first lap with Schatz all over him heading into turn 3. He was heading down the backstretch on the second circuit when the red was thrown for Tim Shaffer who flipped on the exit of turn 4 bringing out the red. The top five was Gravel, Schatz, Sweet, Dewease and Zearfoss.
Engines re-fired and Gravel led the field back to the green. He drove off the outside and beat Schatz to the flagman. He was leading the second lap when Donny Schatz experienced mechanical issues bringing an early end to his night. Dewease now was behind the leader as Sweet, Jacob Allen, Logan Schuchart and Pittman settling in behind. Gravel took the lead again on the restart over Dewease and he started to build his lead with each passing lap. With 5 laps in the books they yellow flag flew over the field for Anthony Macri’s #39M after contact with Brock Zearfoss exiting turn four sending him spinning hard into the inside wall. Unfortunately, Macri’s night was ended. Gravel led Dewease, Sweet, Allen and Schuchart. Gravel got another great start in the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) #41 Maxim and darted into the lead with Dewease giving chase. Brad Sweet drove by Dewease for the runner-up spot. Before a lap could be completed the red was again displayed for a multi-car tangle involving Lucas Wolfe, Steve Buckwalter and Kraig Kinser, Race officials used the race stoppage to their advantage and threw an Open Red for teams to top off the fuel and make some minor adjustments.
When the double air horn sounded signaling to crews they had two minutes to finish up. Philip, Clyde and Nate wrapped up their work and Gravel was ready to get rolling again at speed. With 25 laps to go, the engines re-fired and the racers returned to some high speed action via the single file restart. It was Gravel, Dewease, Sweet, Schuchart and Allen at the front of the pack. When they pace truck returned to the pit area, the Kistler Engines power came to life under the hood of the forty-one and the driver was applying his talent. He was fast and building his lead over Dewease and Sweet. Action was again slowed, this time for Sheldon Haudenschild who slowed on the front straightaway with rear end issues on the Stenhouse Jr./Marshall Racing #17. Under the caution, Friday night’s winner Shane Stewart headed to the work area and then back to the trailer as he crawled out of his car with dropping oil pressure. At this point of the race, race officials made the decision to go to single file restarts for the remainder of the race due to track conditions. Gravel again drove off into the lead and was working on spreading the gap between himself and Dewease when the final caution of the night flew. Danny Dietrich’s #48 went up in smoke as he rolled to a stop to bring out the yellow flag.
There were 7 laps remaining and David Gravel was trucking J.R.C. Transportation style in the #41. Dewease was a formidable threat in second with Brad Sweet who is renowned for his late race runs forward to steal the win. When the flagman waved the green cloth over the field, Gravel left little doubt as he drove off in the clean air at the front of the pack. He was cruising and making his way around Williams Grove’s historic, paperclip shaped racing surface. The flagman showed the white flag indicating one lap to go, and Gravel cruised to his seventh all-time victory at Williams Grove Speedway by 4.175 seconds over Lance Dewease, Brad Sweet and Logan Schuchart with Jacob Allen rounding out the top five.
After crossing over the scales in the backstretch pit area, Gravel made his way to victory lane where he was greeted by his crew, family and friends to help him celebrate his Champion Racing Oil Summer Nationals Championship win! I addition to the $20,000 winner’s check, Gravel strapped on the championship style belt that goes to the victor. He reflected and explained, “Clean air in winged racing is so important. We’ve been struggling with the pill draw in the Dash and we finally got a good one.” He explained his strategy, “I wanted to start on the outside row there in the feature. My goal was to finish second in the Dash, I knew if I could do that, I could get the jump on the start and control the race.” He did just that leading wire-to-wire for all 30 laps to take the big win at the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway. A great run 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.