Jason Sides said before the 2007 season that if his team consistently ran in the Top-10 that they would be in contention for wins and that it would be a good season. The native of Bartlett,
]p[ Tennessee did exactly that, as he earned 23 Top-10 finishes, with nine of those being in the Top-Five, en route to a 14th place finish overall in World of Outlaws championship points. He also won at Ohsweken Speedway in Canada as the series returned north of the border for the first time in over 25 years, and was in contention for several other wins over the course of the season.
Another of the highlights of the 2007 campaign was an event that Sides was the runner-up in, at New Egypt Speedway in New Jersey back in May. He was inched out by 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser at the line by just 0.028 seconds in the closest finish of the season, that had the crowd on their feet as the pair came off the fourth turn, side-by-side. He kicked off the season by winning during the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway in Florida, prior to the World of Outlaws opener at Volusia Speedway Park.
Sides, who is one of the hardest working drivers in the pit area, put in countless hours turning the wrenches and also driving the truck and trailer from track to track. Each strong run he had, made all of that work and sacrifice worth it.
“It was a good season for us,” said Sides, driver of the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim. “Other than not getting more wins that you want, but you always want more wins. The season comes to an end and you can’t wait for it to end, but then you get bored and can’t wait to go racing again.”
Sides won the Crane Cams Dash four times this season to earn pole positions in A-Feature events, including at: USA Race Park in Arizona in his first visit to the 3/8-mile track, as well as at the reconfigured Tri-City Speedway in Illinois, Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota and at the famed Williams Grove Speedway on the first night of the Summer Nationals. In addition, Sides was quickest in time trials on two occasions in 2007.
Another strong run for Sides came at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota, with the ESPN2 cameras rolling for the “SuperClean Summer of Money,” as he finished second on the high-banked half-mile. With 21 cars still competing full-time at the end of the season, Sides was very proud of the hard work he and his team put in and rewarded them and all of his sponsors with numerous strong runs.
“It speaks for itself when you have that many cars,” Sides said of the level of competition in 2007. “Any car can win on any given night. It’s been a tough year for everyone, except maybe a few of the front runners. It’s been a competitive year and that shows that the sport is growing and hopefully that keeps going.”
Sides had several strong runs cut short this season by flat tires and bad luck. At Tri-City Speedway in Illinois he was leading by a significant margin when he lost a tire. He also was leading his heat race in the finale of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway which would have put him in the Crane Cams Dash, when he had an engine grenade on him.
“It is frustrating when the car is that good and you have a flat or something happens to the motor that is something we can’t control,” explained the 2003 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. “Though it still is a confidence booster knowing that you can run up front and contend with those guys.”
When the series headed up to Ohsweken Speedway in July, only one driver in series history had won north of the border and that was three-time series champion Sammy Swindell. After a thrilling race that saw him hold off Jac Haudenschild and Donny Schatz, Sides became the second driver to win in Canada. Since that event, 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser won an event in Canada, as did two-time defending series titlist Donny Schatz.
“That is something that will be in the record books for a while, until we go back and someone else wins,” Sides stated. “Any win is a good win for us. Like I said, we should have won a couple more, and we’ll just stick around and try to get them next year.”
Sides had an opportunity this season to compete at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas, which is just a short drive from his home in Bartlett, Tennessee. In his first race at the refurbished track in a number of years, he earned a spot in the Crane Cams Dash and just finished outside of the Top-10 in the A-Feature. He also had a long line of fans waiting at his trailer after the event, as many of the fans in attendance saw him cut his teeth in a 360-sprint car at Riverside and other tracks in the area.
“That’s one of those places that is home and things seem to always happen, but it’s always good to run in front of the home fans and the people that have been watching us since we started,” said Sides. “It was neat to go there. They had made so many improvements since the last time we had been there and it was a good race.”
Sides wrapped up his 2007 season by competing at Columbus Speedway in Mississippi in a 360-sprint car, after returning home from the inaugural Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and earned two Top-Five finishes to close out his 2007 campaign. With the 2008 season quickly approaching, he is back in the shop preparing for the new racing season, as he looks to build on a very successful season.
“There is never any time to rest,” he admitted. “When the season is over we start rebuilding and start getting ready for a new year.”
The 30th anniversary World of Outlaws season begins on February 8, 2008 with the 37th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.