GRAND FORKS, NORTH DAKOTA (August 21, 2020) – After an impressive weekend of racing and results at Knoxville Raceway, David Gravel and the JJR #41 team headed north to North Dakota, where the state fish is the Northern Pike, to compete at River Cities Speedway which is located near the North Dakota and Minnesota border. The forty-one team has been on a roll and entered the evening second in the team point chase, four points behind leader Logan Schuchart in the Shark Racing #1s entry. The fans in this area always show up when the best in the business come to town. There were 31 teams registered to race on Friday evening at the quarter-mile oval at River Cities Speedway, a track Gravel picked up a win at back in June 2017.
The Watertown, Connecticut native would be the fourth car on the track for his qualifying laps against the clock aboard the Weikert’s Livestock/Engler Machine & Tool #41 Maxim. He buckled into his Simpson Race Products safety belts and rolled into the staging area. The track record here was set back on August 21, 2009 by 2-time series champion Jason Meyers with a fast lap of 9.269 seconds. That lap time still stands as the lowest lap time in World of Outlaws (WoO) history. With a tap on the rear nerf bar by the push truck, the Kistler Engines power came to life and his right foot sank into the accelerator as his goal was to lay down the best lap possible. He was building speed as he drove under the waving green flag. The stopwatch was rolling as it measured his work in time second-by-second. When he crossed the timing line the clock read 10.161 seconds after lap one which catapulted him to second on the speed charts at the time behind Brad Sweet. Staying focused, the determined driver wheeled the forty-one around the track and on his second lap recorded an even better lap at 10.145 seconds. The better of his two laps resulted in him being fourth quick overall when qualifying concluded behind Kyle Larson (10.056), Logan Schuchart (10.127) and Brad Sweet (10.129).
The Drydene Heat Race lineups are compiled using each driver’s fastest times. On this night there would be three 10-lap heat races filled with talent. Gravel’s time put him in the first and fastest heat race where he would start on the outside front row by quick timer Kyle Larson in the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Pro Powder Coating (PPC) #41 Maxim Racing entry. As always, the heat race was filled with speed talent with the likes of Donny Schatz and Parker Price-Miller in row two, Carson Macedo and Mason Daniel in row three, as Brendan Mullen, Bill Rose, Jordan Adams, Nick Omdahl and Zach Omdahl completing the starting grid. As the competitors paced to the green flag, Gravel moved the forty-one up on the track and got a great start using the high side to drive to the front ahead of Larson. He was fast and smooth but Larson was digging which forced the driver in the forty-one to stay on top of his game. As the laps waned Gravel started to reach the back of the field. He patiently navigated through the drivers on the track ad Larson closed the gap between the leader and himself. He had Gravel’s black fuel cell in his sights, but Gravel kept his elbows up and drove to the heat race victory over Larson with Schatz, Price-Miller in the Dietz Motorsports #14, Macedo and Daniel securing the remaining transfer positions from the first heat race.
His heat race victory out the 2019 Knoxville Nationals Champion in the DIRTVision Fast Pass Dash. As he headed to the stage he must have found a lucky four leafed clover because when he pulled his hand out of the over-sized NOS Energy Drink can he held the #1 pill in his hand. He would start from the pole in the 6-lap dash to establish the starting lineup for the first three rows in the 40-lap feature. He shared the front row with Brad Sweet as James McFadden, Jason Sides, Logan Schuchart and Kyle Larson filled each row behind the top two. Gravel again drove into the lead with Sweet right on the tail of the Dissolvalloy Downhole Revolution/Durst Inc. #41. Gravel started to put some race track between himself and Sweet as the driver of the NAPA #49 started to experience some mechanical issues. Larson was on the move running in the third position when on the fourth circuit Sweet slowed and headed to the pits with mechanical woes. Gravel and Larson brought the field back up to speed as the green flag waved with Gravel leading the final two circuits to take the win over Larson, McFadden, Schuchart and Sides with Sweet being scored in the sixth position.
Earning the pole for the 40-lap feature event, David Gravel and Philip Dietz fine-tuned their race strategy and made the final adjustments to the Waco Metal/Brown & Miller Racing Solutions (BMRS) #41 Maxim. It was Gravel and Larson on the front row as they paced around the quarter mile bullring. After the pre-race salute to the fans WoO style, Larson jumped into the lead under green flag conditions over Gravel. Before the first lap could be officially recorded Brendan Mullen spun in turn four bringing out the first caution flag of the night. There was a complete restart which would give Gravel the pole back and another chance to race into the top spot. Racing resumed and Larson drove back into the lead as Logan Schuchart darted into the runner-up position. David was running in the show position, but James McFadden in the KKR #9 was pressuring him for that position. McFadden would make the pass on Gravel for third with 5 laps completed. Donny Schatz was now coming after the Watertown, Connecticut driver. The top five were fast with Larson starting to check out. With 12 laps in the books, Wayne Johnson spun in turn four as cars slowed Brad Sweet got up over a rear wheel and into the outside wall on the exit of turn four. He headed to the work area where his team did a fantastic job fixing the issues and getting him back out where he tagged the rear of the field. The restart order was Larson, Schuchart, McFadden, Gravel and Schatz. When the greens lights came back on Larson vaulted into the lead over Schuchart as McFadden, Gravel and Schatz were racing three wide for the third position. McFadden had it, but Gravel and Schatz wanted it. They continued their battle as Schuchart started to reel in Larson. With 11 laps to go, Jacob Allen spun to a stop over the inside berm to bring out another caution flag. It was still Larson up front over Schuchart, McFadden, Gravel and Schatz. On the restart, Gravel sped forward and was fighting with Schuchart for the runner-up position. His attempt did not hold as Schuchart made a determined effort and held on to second as Schatz seized the opportunity to wrestle the third spot away from Gravel too. Gravel was now running fourth making every attempt to dig his Hoosier Racing Tires into the surface to assist him in tracking down Schatz. At the front of the pack things were starting to get exiting as Schuchart tracked down Larson in lapped traffic. Schuchart tapped Larson in the rear nerf bar with the driver of the Tarlton #57 almost spinning in turn four. Schuchart drove into the lead with three laps to go. Larson was not about to give up as he closed in on Schuchart and on the last lap in the last turn he turned his car under Schuchart to beat him to the finish line by 0.183 seconds to take his series leading eighth win over Schuchart and Schatz, with Gravel coming home fourth aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Fuel Safe Racing Cells #41 Maxim. Brad Sweet did an incredible job to battle back to complete the top five. A good 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.