2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Martin Concord, NC -- Feb. 1, 2007 -- After finishing 2006 with a steady stream of momentum, Jason Martin was anxious to return to the track. He did that in early January by taking part in the famed Chili...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Martin
Concord, NC -- Feb. 1, 2007 -- After finishing 2006 with a steady stream of momentum, Jason Martin was anxious to return to the track. He did that in early January by taking part in the famed Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center in Oklahoma.
In his first start in a midget in a number of years, he won a Qualifying Race that featured eventual Chili Bowl Winner and World of Outlaws team owner, Tony Stewart, as well as open wheel veteran Dave Darland. He went on that night to finish a very solid fifth in the 25-lap preliminary feature.
Martin, a native of Liberal, Kansas wrapped up the weekend at the Chili Bowl with a very respectable 17th place finish in the 50-lap A-Feature on Saturday night, with a record number of almost 280 drivers taking to the track over the course of the five-day event. The World of Outlaws competitor began the day on Saturday by winning the first 20-lap B-Main, leading wire-to-wire. He wound being the only World of Outlaws driver in attendance to make the 50-lap A-Feature.
With that momentum and the experience he received last year in his first full season on the road with the World of Outlaws, Martin is ready for the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speedshop at Volusia Speedway Park, February 9-11.
Having run very ambitious schedules for the past few years, Martin knew what to expect last season. He finished a very respectable 13th in points in his rookie season, despite missing the first three months of the season due to injury. While he learned every time he hit the track, just as valuable was the many lessons he learned away from the track, especially from veteran drivers and teams.
"The biggest thing we learned last year was just being on the road, living with everyone and traveling to all the different tracks," said Martin. "Personally, I think it was a mental thing for me, getting myself in the right frame of mind. I think this year it will be a totally different story."
Having spent the winter preparing for the upcoming season with Crew Chief Jason Rozman, as well as crewman Mike Schure, Martin is confident the team will be strong when they hit the half-mile at Volusia.
"We have the cars all ready and put together," he commented. "Everything is in tip-top shape, and we just have to go out and do our job."
One of the keys to doing well on the road with the World of Outlaws is making sure that team chemistry is there, and that everyone stays fresh over the course of the nearly 90 race schedule that stretches from February until early November. Martin believes that this will be one of the team's strengths this season.
"Everybody is working well together, and everyone is happy," he stated when assessing his crew.
Martin, who grew up racing on the bullrings around his native Kansas, raced at many new tracks last season, including numerous half-miles. The three that stick out most in his mind are three of the most famed tracks in dirt track racing: Eldora Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, and Williams Grove Speedway. Having turned laps at those tracks in 2006, and having a vast amount of notes on how to set the car up to maneuver at those high speeds ovals, he is excited to return to them this season.
"It's a big thing (having confidence) going back to tracks," said the 2000 National Championship Racing Association (NCRA) Rookie of the Year. "It's not necessarily the set-ups, but me driving. Some of the tracks like Eldora and Williams Grove, it takes you a couple times to get used to them, and the sheer speed and how you react going that fast right against the fence. I never grew up racing on big race tracks, so I never had the opportunity to learn those things. That was the biggest thing for me."
Last season when Martin signed into the pits each night, he knew that a stout field of cars would be present, as the average car count for the year was 41. With nearly 30 teams starting the season off full-time this year, he knows that competition will be just as tough, beginning with the three straight nights of racing at Volusia.
"This will be the most competitive year of all," he said. "I can guarantee that. There are going to be so many good cars. It's going to be tough for some of the veteran drivers on some nights to make the show. I can guarantee that it will be that tough."
While he is ready for the early season races, Martin has a couple of dates during later part of the year circled on his calendar. The first of those is two nights of racing at Dodge City Raceway Park in his home state on June 22-23. The always optimistic driver is looking forward to being able to return home and sleep in his own bed and work out of his own shop for a few days during those events. Also, later in the season, the series will return to Heartland Park Topeka, also in the Jayhawk state.
"The close to home races are always good," said Martin. "It's good to go home and get your stuff together. Being on the road takes its toll on your supplies and the pieces on the cars. Hopefully your not crashing that much, but sometimes you need to come home and restock and get things reorganized. You can do some things you can't do on the road. It's nice to come home and camp out for a few days."
After waiting 92 days to start his season last year due to injury, Martin looks to start this season off on a high note, and use the momentum he built at the end of last year and already this year to make an early mark. He and his team arrived in Florida a couple weeks early to turn some extra laps before heading to Volusia for the DIRTcar Nationals. After establishing a solid foundation last season, the always affable driver is ready to build on that even more.
"I'd like to be in the Top-10 in points," he said. "I know we should have been there last year, but I got hurt. I think that was the biggest part of my year. This year if we can be in the Top-10 in points and be in contention to win a race that will be a good season. I know last year we had a couple chances to win, when we were right there in the Top-Five. A Top-10 in points will be a good year, and we would like to win a race or two."