Jason Johnson always had the goal of turning Jason Johnson Racing into a championship caliber team.
That goal has become a reality this year with JJR taking the points lead in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series team championship with seven races remaining.
“For us to be in the hunt right now is pretty special,” said Philip Dietz, crew chief of the JJR #41 and cousin of the late Jason Johnson.
JJR currently holds an eight-point lead over Kasey Kahne Racing in the team championship battle, heading into the Oct. 9-10 Nittany Showdown at Port Royal Speedway. A title win this year would be the first for the Missouri-based team.
Their driver David Gravel, of Watertown, CT, has yet to win at the half-mile track, but he’s been on one of the best streaks in the Series. Gravel has collected 30 top-10 finishes in his last 31 races, which includes five of his six wins this season. He isn’t in contention for the driver championship due to missing two races to run an ARCA Series race and a NASCAR Truck Series race, but with Parker Price-Miller filling in for him in those two events – finishing 14th and ninth – JJR has been able to challenge the likes of KKR, Shark Racing and Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing for the team championship title.
“Obviously, if I can help JJR propel and win a championship is something really cool for me,” Gravel said. “I’m kind of torn as how the season has gone. I’m going to try my best. I try my best every night and see where it ends up. There’s still a lot of racing to go. We’re racing every weekend until the World Finals pretty much, so a lot could happen.”
Gravel and his team have been on a hot streak in the last 10 events, collecting wins at Lernerville Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway and earning seven podiums in that time.
Their recent string of success is due to a combination of Gravel’s experience and recent changes the team has made to the Mesilla Valley Transportation #41 machine, according to Dietz. And the seven remaining events will provide a good opportunity for them to keep that streak going. Gravel will look to win the Jason Johnson Classic at Lake Ozark Speedway – scheduled for Oct. 17 – for the second year in a row and will try to sweep the World Finals – Nov. 5-7 – for the second consecutive year, as well.
Whether they’re competing for a championship or not, wins will be the prime motivation each race. However, points will still be on the back of their minds.
“We think about it,” Dietz said about considering the team’s points situation. “We don’t dwell on it. We go out and try to be the best we can each night. At the end of the season, the best car wins. It sure would be cool for our team. It’s cool to just be in the hunt. (Reigning champion) Brad (Sweet) and (Logan) Schuchart, they’ve both been really good this year. We’ll just keep plugging away. Hopefully we can be there at the end.”
Click here to get tickets to the Oct. 9-10 Nittany Showdown at Port Royal Speedway.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all of the action live on DIRTVision.
1. Jason Johnson Racing —
2. Kasey Kahne Racing -8
3. Shark Racing -46
4. Tony Stewart/Curb-Agajanian Racing -78
5. Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing -158
1. Brad Sweet —
2. Logan Schuchart -38
3. Donny Schatz -70
4. Sheldon Haudenschild -150
5. Carson Macedo -188
Oct. 9-10 – Nittany Showdown at Port Royal Speedway – Tickets
Oct. 16 – Lakeside Speedway – Tickets
Oct. 17 – Jason Johnson Classic at Lake Ozark Speedway – Tickets
Oct. 24 – Kokomo Speedway – Tickets
Nov. 5-7 – Can-Am World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte