Sides Ready for Home State Race at Volunteer Speedway Bulls Gap, TN--March 22, 2007-- Over the years, Jason Sides has been to a lot of race tracks in his home state of Tennessee, but one he has never seen let along turned a single lap on is ...
Sides Ready for Home State Race at Volunteer Speedway
Bulls Gap, TN--March 22, 2007-- Over the years, Jason Sides has been to a lot of race tracks in his home state of Tennessee, but one he has never seen let along turned a single lap on is Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap. On Saturday, he will make his first appearance at the blazing fast 4/10-mile facility that is banked 32 degrees. Not only will it mark his first visit to the track, but also the first for the World of Outlaws.
Sides calls Bartlett, Tennesse home, which is on the western border of the Volunteer State. After the season opening Florida DIRTcar Nationals in the Sunshine State, followed by a trip west to California and Arizona, Sides has put plenty of miles on his truck and trailer in the first month of the season. From his shop, it's a very manageable 436 miles east to Bulls Gap.
"It's a home state race, but it's still about nine or ten hours from the house," said Sides, driver of the Wetherington Tractor Services Maxim. "I've heard it's a really nice race track. I'm excited to head over there."
The event on Saturday March 24 will mark the only appearance by sprint cars at the track this season. The last time that 410-sprint cars took to the high banks was in 2000 for a World of Outlaws Gumout Series event. Prior to that, the All Star Circuit of Champions ran at the high speed track a few times. Sides is excited to be part of the historic event, as the World of Outlaws continue a swing through the Southern part of the country to wrap up the month.
"The fans should see a pretty good race," he said. "I know its late model country, but hopefully they'll come out and support the race. They'll get to see something new and different."
Sides looks for each lap at Volunteer Speedway to take a toll on the drivers both physically and mentally, with record speeds expected. The track is only four degrees less banked than Bristol Motor Speedway which is just 60 north of Bulls Gap on I-81, where the World of Outlaws competed in 2000 and 2001.
"It's going to be like NASCAR," explained the 2003 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "They talk about how hard Bristol is on the body (with all the banking) and it will be the same for us. The more banking there is, the more you will smash the whole car into the race track. Banking is good though and it holds you in, and it should make for a good fast race."
After a pair of races last weekend in the Deep South, Sides was able to head back home to Bartlett and work in his own shop, to prepare for the next couple weeks of racing. With one race on the docket for each of the next two weekends, Sides and the rest of the drivers are preparing for April when the bulk of the schedule begins.
"Everybody likes to race as much as they can," stated Sides. "When you do have a week off at the beginning of the year it is good after a few races. It would be nice to have two or three races in a row, but we'll get focused with the one right now, and take it as it comes the next few weeks."
The always optimistic driver earned his fourth straight Top-10 finish of the season last Saturday night at Pike County Speedway in Mississippi. He has five Top-10's on the year, and is just outside the Top-10 in points. He won his first dash of the season on March 2 at USA Race Park in Tucson, Arizona to earn his first pole position of 2007. He led six laps in the A-Feature that night and recorded a season-best finish of fourth.
"I feel like everything is going in the right direction," said the determined driver. "It is so tough being out here with the Outlaws that each time we can get a Top-10 or a Top-Five, that makes it a good night. Hopefully we can keep this streak going."
Sides is quick to point out the importance of qualifying at the front of the field each night, with the record number of car traveling full-time with the series this season. Last Saturday at Pike County Speedway, he began the evening by turning in the 14th fastest lap in time trials. After getting caught up in a four-car accident on the first lap of his heat race, he was able to get the car repaired and lined up on the pole (due to his solid qualifying time) for the B-Main which he easily won to earn a spot in the A-Feature.
"You want to either be really really good, or ninth through sixteenth," explained the 2004 Kings Royal winner. "That's the key place to be, in order to start at the front row of the heat race and possibly make the dash. If not, you want to be quick time or second quick and hope to make it through your heat. Right now, it's so tough to make it through the heat races that you want to start on the front row."
With the level of competition at an all-time high, Sides knows the fans in his home state are in for a good show on Saturday night. While some of his fellow drivers have turned laps on the high banks of Volunteer Speedway in the past, the always hardworking driver is not going to let that fact worry him, because the majority of the drivers have only heard stories about the track and seen pictures of it. Sides follows a meticulous plan when he visits tracks for the first, and feels confident he will get up to speed quickly.
"When we get to a new place, I always look at how big the track is, and where people run on it, to figure out what gears and bars to put in," he commented. "At places like that, at least it's the same for everybody that hasn't been there. It will be interesting at Volunteer Speedway, and should be good."