By Richie Murray
Fairbury, Nebraska (July 12, 2019)………Just three races into their new relationship, Jason McDougal and FMR Racing appear to be the perfect match.
McDougal joined the team in late June, and by mid-July, the pair hit paydirt in Friday’s Riverside Chevrolet Midwest Midget Championship presented by Westin Packaged Meats and Schmidt’s Sanitation at Jefferson County Speedway in Fairbury, Neb., round two of “Mid-America Midget Week.”
Just this past Tuesday, McDougal was running up front in the “MAMW” opener at Red Dirt Raceway until a melee at the halfway point put the Broken Arrow, Okla. native on his lid and forced him out of contention for his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget victory.
Three days later, the roles were reversed as, this time, it was McDougal who took advantage of a melee just after midway and was the only driver running in the top-four to avoid the carnage. McDougal seized the moment and powered to his first win in the series aboard the Black Watch Farms – Mobil 1 – Pro Shocks/Beast/Speedway Toyota.
McDougal has been strong on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car tour this season, particularly at New Jersey’s Bridgeport Speedway during “Eastern Storm,” where he picked up his second career sprint win exactly one month prior to his first midget win with USAC.
Although it’s no easy task to win in any of USAC National divisions, McDougal relays the difficulty that is winning a USAC National Midget feature. He chalks it up to being in the right spot at the right time with the right people, making his part of the equation infinitely easier on him when he gets behind the wheel.
“I’ve been telling people for a while that I feel like I should be able to win a midget race,” McDougal explained. “But, like I tell everyone that tries to go USAC Midget racing, the midgets are ten times harder than a sprint car. To be in the position I’m in with the team that I’m with, I have a lot of great guys supporting me now. Everything’s just clicking at the right time.”
The key elements in the string that helped guide McDougal to victory lane is a great crew, including Brad Noffsinger and USAC Hall of Fame car builder and crew chief Bob East. McDougal’s first Silver Crown start, which resulted in a 4th at Eldora last Fall, had the East touch as did his midget ride in Friday’s victory. Familiarity creates comfort, and McDougal seems right at home in the No. 76m.
“I’ve run Silver Crown for Chris Dyson and Sean Michael, and Bob helped us on the setup a little bit,” McDougal revealed. “I’ve always gotten along with Bob. I’ve always looked up to the Klatt cars when they had Damion Gardner in them at the Chili Bowl and Turkey Night. They’re some of my favorite cars in midget racing. To be able to be a part of this is spectacular, but I get along with these guys so great, it’s making everything easy.”
From the 4th starting spot, McDougal was in the thick of the battle from the word “go,” moving to third around Chris Windom at the start and to 2nd on lap seven with a turn four run off the bottom past USAC Western States Midget standout Robert Dalby.
Thirty laps can breeze by in a blur on the southeastern Nebraska bullring, which also means lapped traffic can come up in a hurry. Tanner Thorson, whose last appearance at the track resulted in a victory back in 2017, found that out the hard way as he held a one second lead over McDougal on the 19th lap of the 30-lapper.
Coming off turn four, the lapped car of Olivia Bennett got sideways on the top side, sliding right into the path of oncoming race leader, Thorson. Thorson, plus third-running Kevin Thomas, Jr. and fourth place Tucker Klaasmeyer all saw their winning hopes dashed in a split second as McDougal escaped through the fray and with the race lead only 12 laps from the finish.
Jason McDougal became the third first-time USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature winner in 2019, joining Cannon McIntosh (Du Quoin, Ill.) and Chris Windom (Lawrenceburg, Ind.)
(Rich Forman Photo)
Klaasmeyer’s hopeful night went from bad to worse two laps later, escaping injury after flipping on the back straightaway.
On the restart with ten to go, the top-six were all suctioned to the bottom, momentarily, until Courtney bolted to the outside of CMR teammate Windom in a tussle for second with six lap remaining. The pair battled wheel-to-wheel for the next handful of laps while McDougal held steady at the head of the field.
On the final stretch, Courtney, who started 12th, finally cleared Windom and made a run on the high line at McDougal on the final lap. McDougal could hear somebody behind him, but wasn’t exactly certain if it was a lapper or the second-place car. Courtney’s charge halted short of the line as McDougal let his car float to the outside wall off turn four, up in front of Courtney’s by a mere one tenth of a second.
McDougal was followed to the line by Courtney, Windom, 2016 Jefferson County winner Chad Boat and Jerry Coons, Jr., the two-time series champ, who finished in the top-five for the second consecutive race.
In victory lane, McDougal hoisted a sign reading “Get well soon, Frank,” for FMR Racing owner Frank Manafort. McDougal became the third first-time USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget feature winner in 2019, joining Cannon McIntosh (Du Quoin, Ill.) and Chris Windom (Lawrenceburg, Ind.)
Contingency award winners Friday night at Jefferson County Speedway were Logan Seavey (Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier), Tanner Carrick (Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner), Tucker Klaasmeyer (Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner), Chad Boat (AutoMeter/Indy Race Parts Third Heat Winner), Tanner Thorson (Wilwood Brakes 13th Place Finisher) and Tyler Courtney (KSE Racing Products/ProSource Hard Charger).
USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: July 12, 2019 – Jefferson County Speedway – Fairbury, Nebraska – Riverside Chevrolet “Midwest Midget Championship” presented by Westin Packaged Meats & Schmidt’s Sanitation – 1/5-Mile Dirt Oval
FATHEADZ EYEWEAR QUALIFYING: 1. Logan Seavey, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.685 (New Track Record); 2. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 5, Petry-10.758; 3. Jason McDougal, 76m, FMR-10.842; 4. Chris Windom, 17BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.898; 5. Andrew Layser, 47BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.910; 6. Robert Dalby, 4D, Dalby-10.939; 7. Tanner Thorson, 98, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.947; 8. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 27, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-10.951; 9. Chad Boat, 84, Tucker/Boat-10.962; 10. Jerry Coons, Jr., 25, Petry-10.984; 11. Zeb Wise, 39BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.984; 12. Tyler Courtney, 7BC, Clauson/Marshall-10.985; 13. Tanner Carrick, 71K, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-11.036; 14. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-11.059; 15. Sam Johnson, 72, Johnson-11.097; 16. Ethan Mitchell, 19m, Bundy Built-11.141; 17. Brady Bacon, 85, Central-11.176; 18. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-11.301; 19. A.J. Valim, 4T, Valim-11.930; 20. Curtis Spicer, 4, Spicer-11.944; 21. Lance Bennett, 10, Bennett-11.976; 22. Olivia Bennett, 77, Bennett-11.993; 23. Tyler Seavey, 117, Washburn-NT; 24. Blaze Bennett, 10B, Bennett-NT.
SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Tanner Carrick, 2. Tanner Thorson, 3. Jerry Coons, Jr., 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Ethan Mitchell, 7. A.J. Valim, 8. Olivia Bennett. 1:56.27 (New Track Record)
COMPETITION SUSPENSION (CSI) SECOND HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Tucker Klaasmeyer, 2. Tyler Thomas, 3. Zeb Wise, 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Kevin Thomas, Jr., 6. Andrew Layser, 7. Tyler Seavey, 8. Curtis Spicer. 1:56.73
AUTOMETER/INDY RACE PARTS THIRD HEAT: (10 laps, all transfer to the feature) 1. Chad Boat, 2. Tyler Courtney, 3. Jason McDougal, 4. Sam Johnson, 5. Robert Dalby, 6. Shannon McQueen, 7. Lance Bennett. NT
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting position in parentheses) 1. Jason McDougal (4), 2. Tyler Courtney (12), 3. Chris Windom (3), 4. Chad Boat (9), 5. Jerry Coons, Jr. (10), 6. Tyler Thomas (14), 7. Logan Seavey (6), 8. Andrew Layser (7), 9. Zeb Wise (11), 10. Robert Dalby (2), 11. Brady Bacon (16), 12. Tanner Carrick (13), 13. Tanner Thorson (1), 14. Ethan Mitchell (18), 15. Sam Johnson (15), 16. Shannon McQueen (17), 17. Lance Bennett (19), 18. Curtis Spicer (22), 19. Olivia Bennett (20), 20. Tucker Klaasmeyer (8), 21. Kevin Thomas, Jr. (5), 22. Tyler Seavey (23), 23. A.J. Valim (21). NT
**Tucker Klaasmeyer flipped in turn 3 on lap 20.
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-18 Tanner Thorson, Laps 19-30 Jason McDougal.
KSE RACING PRODUCTS/PROSOURCE HARD CHARGER: Tyler Courtney (12th to 2nd)
WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Tanner Thorson
NEW USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Tyler Courtney-961, 2-Chris Windom-874, 3-Logan Seavey-871, 4-Kevin Thomas, Jr.-798, 5-Zeb Wise-793, 6-Chad Boat-766, 7-Jerry Coons, Jr.-684, 8-Tanner Carrick-668, 9-Tucker Klaasmeyer-649, 10-Jason McDougal-595.
NEW PROSOURCE PASSING MASTER POINTS: 1-Tyler Thomas-17, 2-Jerry Coons, Jr.-16, 3-Jonathan Beason-12, 4-Chad Boat-11, 5-Tyler Courtney-10, 6-Matt Sherrell-10, 7-Logan Seavey-8, 8-Chris Windom-8, 9-Hank Davis-8, 10-Zeb Wise-7.
NEXT USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK MIDGET NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE: July 13, 2019 – Jefferson County Speedway – Fairbury, Nebraska – Riverside Chevrolet “Midwest Midget Championship” presented by Westin Packaged Meats & Schmidt’s Sanitation – 1/5-Mile Dirt Oval