Jason Sides is one of the most hands-on drivers in the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series pit area. The native of Bartlett, Tennessee drives his own truck and trailer and does most of the work and maintenance on his race cars. If he’s not working on one of his cars, he can usually be found helping a fellow competitor with their machines.
After a busy off-season of working in the shop, he is ready to take to the road again with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series this season.
Sides opened his 2008 campaign, by competing in two events last month at Tyrepower Parramatta City Raceway in Australia. He arrived early in Florida to compete at East Bay Raceway Park prior to the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season opener, the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on February 8. In his two starts Down Under, Sides earned two Top-10 finishes against a number of fellow Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series drivers.
“Every time that we are able to go to Australia the season starts for us before it would normally start here,” he explained. “It gives us a little seat time to get back in the car after a couple of months off. It gets you back oriented with the car and up to speed.”
Sides spent countless hours in the shop over the winter, making sure he had most of his equipment ready to go before he left for Australia. With just over three months from the time the final checkered flag flew in 2007 to the opening green flag of 2008, there was plenty to do with over 80 races on the calendar in 2008 for the series.
“We tied up the loose ends we had before going to Australia,” he noted. “That way when we got back, most of the stuff was ready. Every thing was pretty much ready. We just had to pick up some wings and get the last minute things ready when we got back.”
Sides, who claimed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series in 2003, enjoys the challenge that off-season preparation requires to run with the series.
“When you run with the Outlaws, you usually put four, five or six car together, versus running weekly or somewhere else where you would only put together two or three cars,” explained the native of Bartlett, Tennessee. “There is more work involved as far as getting everything ready.”
With one of the strongest fields in Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series history assembled in 2007, most of those drivers and teams will be back on tour this season bringing the total number of drivers competing full-time to around 20. Sides looks forward to that, as he will again have the chance to test his skills against the best drivers in the world on a nightly basis.
“I don’t see any changes,” he said. “The amount of cars will be close to the same and still the same competition we had last year. It will be the second year of strong competition.”
Having been on the road for a number of years, Sides is used to running a very aggressive schedule that sees him compete nearly 100 times per season. While it takes a lot physically to compete night after night as well as make it up and down the road for nine-plus months, Sides is quick to point out that staying mentally strong is the key to making it through the always demanding sprint car season.
“Having confidence helps you stay fresh,” shared Sides. “If you keep your confidence up, you go into a race knowing that you are capable of winning. If you stay up to date with motors and parts and pieces that adds to staying fresh as well.”
Sides won his second career Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event last season in the series inaugural visit to Ohsweken Speedway in Canada. He put his name in the records books as one of just four drivers that have won with the tour, north of the border. He nearly won at New Egypt Speedway in New Jersey last season, finishing second to 20-time champion Steve Kinser in the closest race of the season.
“It adds a lot of satisfaction when we run up front, knowing I do a lot of the work on the car,” he said. “It seems kind of odd to me, the people that show up and drive the car and are not around during the week when the guys are working on it, because that has never happened to me. It was very satisfying at Ohsweken and the New Jersey race (New Egypt Speedway) knowing that I had worked on the car helped get the car to the point.”
Sides finished 14th in championship points in 2007, on the strength of 23 Top-10 finishes, with nine of those being in the Top-Five. He also won the dash four times to earn the same number of pole positions, as well as being fastest in time trials on two occasions. He looks to improve on that this season, as he continues to pilot his familiar No. 7S.
“Last year was pretty good,” Sides stated. “If we can get a few more wins and a few more Top-Fives and Top-10s throughout the year it will be a good year. That consistency would help in the points as well. That consistency is our biggest goal.”
The 30th anniversary Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season begins on February 8, 2008 with the 37th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, with tickets available at: http://www.VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com.
Fans unable to attend the spectacular week at Volusia can still catch all the action on the DIRTVision Cybercast. For just $29.99 fans can purchase the ‘Alltel DIRTcar Nationals Racepass’ and watch live streaming video of all 12 nights of racing action. Log on to www.dirtvision.com for more information.