MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA (August 28, 2016) – After the dust settle from Friday night’s racing action at River Cities Speedway, Jason and the JJR crew loaded up their equipment and headed due west on US-2 through the Spirit Lake Reservation towards Minot, North Dakota for Sunday’s Gerdau Magic City Showdown at Nodak Speedway. There were 26 cars signed into the pits on a beautiful North Dakota evening and every driver was ready to go racing in The Peace Garden State in front of a full house under the covered grandstands.
Jason pushed off 13th for his two qualifying time trial laps, and wasted little time making his mark aboard the Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT)/Waco Metal #41 Maxim he was wheeling. His first lap around came in at 13.331 seconds. He was even better the next time around with the eighth quick time overall with a lap of 13.311 seconds.
Stating from the third position in the second heat race, behind two formidable names in sprint car racing, Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman, Jason knew he would have to be up on the wheel from the get go to earn a spot in the Dash event. Pittman used his outside starting position to power into the lead over Schatz who was embroiled in a battle for position with the Ragin’ Cajun. Jason was able to steal the spot briefly, but Schatz roared back to secure the second running position. Pittman would go on to take the victory ahead of Schatz, Johnson in his Priority Aviation Services, LLC Maxim, and Jordan Adams with Greg Nikitenko and Greg Wilson rounding out the heat race transfer positions.
The 24-car field was set for the 35 lap Magic City Showdown feature. Jason would be starting the event from the outside of row four in the Fischer Body Shop/CCC #41 Maxim with Joey Saldana to his inside and Shane Stewart and Daryn Pittman right in front of them in row three. Logan Schuchart and Donny Schatz were pacing the field from row one with Brad Sweet and David Gravel in row two. Schatz wasted little time seizing the lead when they went racing at full speed. From the drop of the green flag, Jason was determined to put on a show in his fast race car. It took him ten laps, but he busted into the top five and was looking for more. He got more as he was battling for each position and tracking down second running Schuchart. The two talented drivers were dicing back and forth for the position before your 2016 Knoxville Nationals champions took control of the runner-up spot. A late race red flag with two laps to go, which was for Stewart and Jason Sides who got caught up in an unnecessary accident with a lapped car, gave the Eunice, Louisiana native one last shot as Schatz who had won her the previous four years in this event. When the yellow lights replaced the red ones, Jason had his strategy set. Would it work? He hoped so, but only could try to get around one of the best in the business at his hometown track. Green, green, green. Schatz was off to the races with Jason close behind. Schatz would go on to collect the victory by just over a second in front of the Ragin’ Cajun, with Pittman clawing his way to claim the show position for a podium finish. It was Jason’s 16th Top Five of the 2016 season – a 22.22% success rate.
On the front straightaway after the race, Jason explained, “I needed to get to him and I couldn’t quite clear him.” He continued, “One thing about Donny is that he’ll race you clean, so I wanted to race him clean. Once we came down the back straightaway he had a little more momentum and our only chance was maybe if he would have bobbled, but that doesn’t happen very often.” Nonetheless, it was a great run at Nodak Speedway for the forty-one!