Friday, April 27, 2012

Jake Puts it on the Podium at Ventura


    I turned 19 years old on the 21st, and what better way to spend a birthday than at the track doing what I love! Since the prior 2 VRA Midget races rained out, this was the first Ventura race of the year. And it was my first time on the new surface that Ventura has put down. The new dirt proved to be challenging to get a hold of despite the damp conditions that night.
    My cousin and I had a lot of fun in hot laps, it was the raciest track we had all night. The line was up on the fence all the way around; my kind of track. Slick to the fence and slide-job passing makes for a heck of a lot of fun. We posted the 2nd fastest time of the field.
    We had a good run in the heat race, started 3rd and finished 2nd. That put me starting 5th in the feature.
    The main was rough. The track wasn't a very raceable track. It was one-lined around the bottom, and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get the top of the racetrack to work for us. This made passing extremely difficult. The invert placed a couple of the slower cars and the front, and all the faster guys at the back. We were running 4th for quite a while. I just felt stuck out there, everybody was protecting the bottom and the top was my only other option. The #22 was trying hard to work it in up there and got by me, so I had to try it. Unfortunately, it didn't work. I went from 5th to dead last in a lap and a half.
    After the freight train went by me, I made quick work of the back markers. I moved back through the field quickly, and when the checkers flew I had made my way back up to 3rd.
    I was happy to put it on the podium, but it wasn't a win. We are so close to picking up that first W for Swanson Motorsports. The improvements we have made on this car has been huge, and we continue to find little chassis tweaks that will give us the advantage we need on the track.
    The next race for me is in the #41 410 Sprinter at Perris on Saturday April 28th in the Henry/Jones DRC. The next USAC Midget Race will be May 12th at Santa Maria.

Stay Tuned!

Jake Swanson

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Getting Comfortable in a 410


    Last Saturday I had my 2nd race with the new 410 car and team back at the Perris Auto Speedway. After how well we kicked off our debut, I was very excited to get another chance back in the seat.
    Hotlaps was a really good learning session for me. I got behind two pretty good guys and hung with them the whole session. I was able to find and test the cars limits and this gave me a lot more confidence going into qualifying. I qualified a 17.0 which was 4 tenths quicker than my last Q effort which placed me 22nd out of the 33 entries.
    This put me on the outside pole for my heat race, again. This time though, I felt I had a much more competitive heat race. Mike Spencer, Rip Williams,  Ryan Bernal, and Bill Rose were all in it, so I definitely had my work cut out for me. I had a good start, beat the pole sitter into turn 1 and gained and early lead. I kept pushing the car harder trying to gain speed. I led for most of the race until the 2011 USAC/CRA Champion, Spencer, got by me for the lead. I finished 2nd to him with a respectable gap between us and the 3rd place car of Bernal.
    For the feature, I started last row inside. Again, my goal was to just get laps and gain experience. We did just that. I stayed out of trouble and learned a lot about how to run these cars on a slick racetrack. Towards the end of the race, the car began to smoke due to a small oil leak. I kept an eye on the gauges and all was well, but I pulled in anyways. It wasn't worth hurting that engine and not being able to run the next race.
    I'm a little bummed that we weren't able to finish, but the fact that I gained so much knowledge and experience from just this race more than makes up for it. I now have much more confidence about driving this car and I know with the Crew Chief and Car Owner that I have behind me, we will be a force in the future.
    I'd like to give a huge Thanks to everybody who is helping me and the Tony Jones Racing Team pursue this dream; Zanzabuku Sports Lounge, VGI Graphics, The Alexander Brothers, Bubby Jones Racing, Goodwine Glass, So-Cal Performance, JDS Tank Testing and K&N Filters.
    And a very special Thank you to Larry Henry and Tony Jones for giving me such an amazing opportunity to race these 410 sprinters!

Jake Swanson

Jake Place's 6th in USAC Western States Midget Opener


    Silver Dollar Speedway located in Northern California is home for a lot of winged sprint car action. Friday night the Midgets shared the show with the Outlaws. Winged cars are notorious for heavily abusing the track and making it go very dry-slick and rubbered down. However, the track started much to my advantage. 
    In qualifying, turns one and two were rutted and hooked up. And turns three and four was just the oppisite, smooth, dry, and one-lined around the bottom. I favor tracks like these with two different ends. We Q'ed 3rd out of the 19 car field. 
    The heat race also went well. I started 3rd and was able to grab the lead for just a few laps, but then lost the lead and settled for 2nd. This scored us a 6th place starting spot for the feature. I fought hard to move forward in the feature, but the track just got away from us a little bit. It was a tough track, one lined around the bottom and very slick. I was running 5th for most of the race until one driver ran into the side of us nearly taking me out, and I fell back to 8th. I managed to get back up to P6. 
    It wasn't a bad night all in all. It was a strong points day and we had a fast racecar all night long. I'm looking forward to the second USAC Western States Midget race of the season in Bakersfield on April 7th. I'd like to thank Lucas Oil, Goodwine Glass, Honda Racing, PBH Indy, Crower Performance, One Day Signs, Ego Tactics, K&N Filters, and Oakley for all their support.

Jake Swanson