Consistency the key for Jason Sides in 2009: Looks to Continue Strong Season this weekend
Concord, NC—June 25, 2009—It's often said in racing that a driver has to “pay their dues” before rising to the top and battling for wins each night. Jason Sides has more than paid his dues, putting in countless hours over the years working on his own car, driving his own truck and trailer and persevering oftentimes with minimal crew help and just a faction of the budget that the bigger teams have. All of that dedication, along with a sheer love for the sport of sprint car racing is paying off this year as Sides is off to the best start of his career aboard his familiar No. 7S machine on the always grueling World of Outlaws trail.
The native of Bartlett, Tennessee is in the midst of a string of seven consecutive Top-10 finishes, which is the second times this season has put a streak of that many Top-10 runs together.
Sides will hit the track twice this weekend as the World of Outlaws head to U.S. 36 Raceway in Osborn, Missouri on Friday, June 26 for the Missouri High-Banked Nationals, followed by their final stop of the year at the legendary Knoxville Raceway in Iowa on Saturday, June 27.
The 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year enters the weekend a very solid sixth in the World of Outlaws championship standings on the strength of 21 Top-10 finishes. He is just 12 points behind Craig Dollansky who is currently fifth.
“Everything has been going pretty well,” said Sides recently. “I'm not exactly sure why or how or what's making it run good, but we're going to keep trying to plug away and make it run good. The consistency part of it is great right now. Knowing that you can run in the Top-10 and Top-Five each night is great. We just need to keep capitalizing on that, and then we'll have a good strong end to the year.”
Sides has been a contender more nights than not this season and has already racked up 21 Top-10 finishes in the first 30 races of the year, with nine of those being Top-Fives aboard the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim. He finished second on both of the first two nights of the season at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida, leading 18 laps in those events. Following those two runner-up finishes to start the 2009 campaign, Sides was tied for the series point lead, which marked the first time in his career he sat atop the standings. He also scored a second-place finish at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway live on SPEED last month.
“Knowing that you can run up front with those guys boosts your confidence,” said Sides. “Anyone can have a bad night and if they do, hopefully we'll be there and get out win. Hopefully that will come pretty soon. Every time we qualify good and run good in the heat race and get in the dash we put ourselves in a good position to have a chance to win.”
Sides has turned the fastest lap in time trials on four occasions this season which has him tied with Danny Lasoski in that category, second only to current series point leader Donny Schatz. He has qualified in the Top-Five 13 times this year to earn bonus points in the championship standings. In addition, he has one win in the Crane Cams Dash which earned him a pole position at the famed Eldora Speedway last month. He has paced the field for 22 laps as he looks for his first win of the year and the third of his World of Outlaws career.
“I think it's really important,” he said when asked about time trials “It dictates your night if you set fast time or are in the Top-Five. That shows that you are going in the right direction for the heat race and the dash.”
Sides, who has done most of the work on his race cars for the majority of his career, has had some added helped this season in the pit area. Early in the season he had veteran driver and fellow Tennessee native Terry Gray helping turn the wrenches prior to his own racing season beginning. Recently, Sides welcomed back long time mechanic Finchy and also has had Doug Rankin with him since the beginning of the year.
“It was perfect timing for Finchy to come back,” said Sides. He's been with me the last four or five years. I owe it to him, because he has been here the whole time when we weren't running good. Now that we are running good, I want him here too. Thanks to him and Doug both. They are doing a great job.”
With the World of Outlaws schedule picking up in the heat of the summer, this is the time of the year that Sides enjoys most as a driver and also as a team owner. If it was up to him, he would race every night of the week, though he knows that is not feasible and is content racing three and four times a week as will be the case in the coming weeks.
“The more you race, the better,” said the veteran driver. “You stay prepared and are ready for racing each night. You are sharp and the more you race, the better off you are. Everything is based on money and the more you race, the more you make, though the more you spend as well. At least it's cash flow in and the more races the better.”
Sides is currently on pace to eclipse a number of career highs this season with the World of Outlaws, including Top-10 finishes, Top-Fives, fast time honors and laps led. He already has 21 Top-10 finishes and his career high was 33 back in 2003 when he claimed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. He also had 14 Top-Five finishes that season and has nine of those already this year. He was fastest in time trials four times in 2004 and has already matched that this season.
He enters this weekend with two career World of Outlaws win, with the first of those coming in the 2004 Kings Royal and the other coming at Ohsweken Speedway in Canada in the series debut at that track in 2007. The veteran driver is looking ahead to the ‘Month of Money' which starts in a few weeks and hopes to carry the momentum he has been building in the first part of the season into those events.
“I'd like to get a couple of wins or at least one to show that we are still here and want to win,” stated Sides when asked what would make it a good summer. “We're knocking on the door. If we can have a good strong finish to the year and good strong Top-Five runs at the Kings Royal and Knoxville (Nationals) and the other big money races that will make it a good year.”
Both of this weekend's races can be heard live on www.DIRTVision.com with Johnny Gibson, “The Voice of the Outlaws” calling all of the action.
On Friday, June 26 at U.S. 36 Raceway, adult reserved tickets will be $35, with reserved tickets for children ages 12-under $15. Reserved seating will also be available in the Top-2 row (20-21) for $40 which includes a reserved seat a pit pass. Pit combos are also available for $38 in advance for $38 and include a reserved seat and a pit pass. For tickets call SLS Promotions at 815-344-2023 and for more information visit http://www.slspromotions.com.
On Saturday, June 27 at Knoxville Raceway, Adult general admission tickets will be $30, with general admission tickets for children will be $15. Adult reserved tickets will be $33, with reserved tickets for children $16.50. For ticket information and to purchase tickets online visit: http://www.knoxvilleraceway.com.