2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Solwold Concord, NC--Feb. 8, 2007 -- Many sprint car drivers spend their entire careers trying to win an event at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, one of the most famed tracks in all of racing. Jason...
2007 World of Outlaws Preview: Jason Solwold
Concord, NC--Feb. 8, 2007 -- Many sprint car drivers spend their entire careers trying to win an event at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, one of the most famed tracks in all of racing. Jason Solwold accomplished that feat last season, on the first night of the National Open, as he mastered the unique half-mile and a very stout field of cars. He also picked up a win on the second night of the Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar (Calif.) Speedway another historic track, putting his name on a very prestigious list of winners at the ultra-fast quarter-mile.
These accomplishments have had him looking forward to the 36th Annual DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Mopar Speeshop at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida for quite a while.
The native of Mount Vernon, Washington began the season competing in three events at Parramatta City Raceway in Australia against many fellow World of Outlaws competitors. He followed that up by arriving in Florida a week early to turn some laps as well.
"It gets your confidence going a little bit for things to come," said Solwold, when asked about the benefits of racing in the off-season. "We ran well down there. I think it is good to race there. It does take a couple races to shake off the rust a bit. You have guys that go over to Australia and race for a month. That is probably the best thing to do, as far as keeping up on it, and not losing the touch. It does take a time or two to get back into a rhythm and get comfortable to start racing again."
In addition to the two wins he had in World of Outlaws events last season, Solwold also picked up two victories in National Sprint Tour action, where he finished fifth in points. Those wins have him very confident heading into this season as prepares to embark on the full World of Outlaws schedule of nearly 90 races.
"Having won last year does take a little pressure off entering this season," commented Solwold. "It definitely means we can win some races. We probably should have won a few more races last year, but it didn't work out that way. Four was pretty good at a level like this. I think it will give us a little more confidence for this year. Hopefully we can get twice as many."
With nearly 30 teams starting the season off full-time with the World of Outlaws this season, Solwold knows he and his team have to be fast from the second they unload their car each night. Last year in World of Outlaws action, he set fast time on three occasions in addition to winning four dashes and earning five pole positions.
"Qualifying will be a lot tougher this year," explained, the 2004 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year. "You're still going to have your 10 cars up front that normally run up front. I think it will make it tougher throughout the rest of the field. Qualifying will definitely be important. Every time we go on the track this year will be important. We're pretty good at qualifying usually, so we should be all right. We have to keep our good qualifying record going."
With nearly 90 races on the schedule this season, Solwold will have plenty of chances to return to the winner's circle. With the early season racing he has been doing, as well as the events he ran Down Under, he will close in on the century mark of total races competed in when the final checkered flag flies on the inaugural Outlaws World Finals, November 1-3 at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"That is a good number of races to have," he said. "I would like to see it be around a 100, to maybe keep it a little busier during the busiest time of the year. From my standpoints, the more races you have the more chances you have to make more money."
Solwold will have a couple opportunities to race in front of the fans that know him very well in the Pacific Northwest. The series will make their inaugural visit to Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on August 17-18, where he won the Gold Cup at in 2001 and 2002, in a 360-sprint car.
"That's one of the places where I started my career, and we went up there quite a bit," said Solwold. "It's always good to go to places that you have done well at in the past. I may have a little bit of an advantage over some people (having raced there) but probably not too much."
Also he will compete twice at his home track of Skagit (Wash.) Speedway on August 24-25. The native of the Evergreen State, won track championships at Skagit in 1994, 2002, and 2003. He also has claimed the 360 Nationals at Skagit three times.
"Everyone is already talking about it (the race at Skagit) at home," he said. "The race track has changed quite a bit since I have run there. I usually run there about once a year now. It's definitely a lot different surface and configuration than when I was racing there full-time. I still like going home, and it will be good after a long summer."
After a very consistent season in 2006, Solwold is looking to build on that foundation even more with Crew Chief Leonard Lee. The pair won their first race of 2007 on February 7 in the second night of the DIRTcar Nationals as he picked up the checked flag over a very stout field of nearly 60 cars for his second career O'Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions victory.
"The goal is to win more races," Solwold said. "Hopefully we can be in the Top-Five or Top-10 in points, the Top-Five realistically. Our team is capable of doing it. There are a lot of other guys that are out there are to. We're just going to plug away at it and try to win races throughout the summer, and see what happens with the points at the end of the year."