2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Sides Concord, NC -- Feb. 7, 2007 -- Jason Sides enjoys every moment he spends at a race track. Always has always will. Whether he is out on the track in action, in the pit area fine-tuning his car, signing...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Sides
Concord, NC -- Feb. 7, 2007 -- Jason Sides enjoys every moment he spends at a race track. Always has always will. Whether he is out on the track in action, in the pit area fine-tuning his car, signing autographs for the fans, or just talking to his fellow competitors, he feels right at home and makes the most of every second he has.
Sides has had spent plenty of time at the track already this season in the weeks leading up to the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park, February 9-11 for the World of Outlaws. He opened the New Year up at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before heading to Australia where he competed in three events at Parramatta City Raceway, against many fellow World of Outlaws competitors, picking up two Top-10 finishes.
"I think you do gain some momentum by racing in Australia," said Sides. "A lot of the guys that race all winter long seem to not lose anything. They seem fresher than the guys that have been off for two months."
Upon arriving back home in Barlett, Tennessee in late January, Sides promptly finished loading his equipment at his shop and headed to Florida where he has already competed in 10 events in three different types of sprint cars. He first ran in "The Kings of the 360's", an event he won in 2002, followed by six consecutive alternating nights in a non-wing and 410-winged sprint car at East Bay Raceway Park. He picked up six Top-10 finishes at East Bay, including a win on January 30, his first victory at the 1/3-mile track in a 410-winged sprint car.
After those nine nights or racing, he headed across the Sunshine State for the kick-off of the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. After competing with the O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions, on Tuesday night at the half-mile, he will race twice more with the series before the World of Outlaws season opens on Friday February 9.
"I think it always helps to go to Florida early and race," explained the 2003 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "The more laps you can get, the better off you will be."
Knowing he would have a very busy off-season Sides began to prepare for 2007 well before the 2006 campaign wrapped up. While he spent plenty of time in his shop over the winter making sure all the nuts and bolts were tight on the cars, he was able to do it at his own pace. He also was able enjoy some time over the holiday season with friends and family that he does not get to see very often during the course of a nine-plus month racing season.
"We try to make sure we have parts and stuff ordered before the season ends," commented the 2004 Kings Royal winner. "Then we can go to the Chili Bowl and to Australia and not have to worry about that stuff. We had it all done before the Chili Bowl started."
With nearly 90 races on the World of Outlaws schedule this season, Sides will end up competing well over 100 times by year's end, due to the intense early season schedule that he has been contesting. As a driver, he enjoys competing as much as he can, but he also has to look at everything from a business standpoint as well, since he owns his own car.
"Racing a lot does keep you in a good rhythm," he shared. "The more you race as a driver the better. As a driver and car owner, it is good and bad for me."
A dates that he has circled on his calendar is May 5, the day the World of Outlaws return to Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas, which is a scant 23 miles from his shop, easily the shortest trip he will make all season This will be the series first visit to the 1/4-mile bullring since 1981, and the series seventh overall visit to the facility. He also will take to the track in his home state at Volunteer Speedway in March, in the series inaugural visit to the 3/8-mile semi-banked oval.
"It will be nice racing at Riverside," said Sides, the 2001 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year. "I haven't raced there for probably five or six years. It will fun to go there and see all the improvements the new owner's have made to the race track."
With more cars traveling with the World of Outlaws full-time this season, Sides knows how important it will be to start each night out on a good night, being fast and consistent until the final checkered flag of the night falls. Right off the bat for the DIRTcar Nationals, a stout field will be comprised as competitors from the All Stars and from Pennsylvania join the World of Outlaws.
"Time trials and heats will be very important this year," he said. "Time trials have always been a big part of it anyway. The number of cars will definitely put more pressure on it for sure this year."
Last season, Sides finished seventh in points with the National Sprint Tour, with a win at Missouri State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, where the World of Outlaws will compete this season on June 20. In 2005, his last full season with the Outlaws, Sides was 15th in points. He also has finished in the Top-10 twice, including a career-best of sixth in 2003, his rookie season.
"We want to consistently run in the Top10 each night," said Sides. "If you run in the Top-10 that will put you where you need to be in the points at the end of the year. It's going to be tough to have multiple wins, but I believe running in the Top-10 and Top-five each night will assure you of a couple of wins throughout the year."