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News

Welshan Gets Emotional Victory in J.T. Kerr Memorial

Welshan Gets Emotional Victory in J.T. Kerr Memorial

SEYMOUR, Tenn. (June 25) — There were 11 circuits remaining in the 71-lap J.T. Kerr Memorial Saturday night at 411 Motor Speedway when the race’s 11th of 13 caution flags slowed the action. The intensity cranked up just a notch, and two more cautions over the final circuits added more suspense, including one with a mere two laps to go.

Pacing the field as he had from the start of the Newsome Raceway Parts-sponsored Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series event, and slowly circling the 4/10-mile oval during the caution period, race leader Jason Welshan looked skyward in remembrance of his closest friend Clyde Stanton, a local racer with a much bigger heart than racing budget, who had been a long-time friend of the Maryville, Tenn., driver.

Stanton had passed away at age 57 a little less than two weeks earlier on June 12, and his death hit Welshan extremely hard. Welshan’s mind immediately wandered back to his friendship with Stanton, triggered by the fact that his good friend’s car number was No. C11, and suddenly Welshan realized there were just 11 laps to go when the caution appeared.

“I was out there rolling around under yellow leading the race, and I could feel him riding in the car with me,” Welshan said, his tears mixing with perspiration during a postrace interview. “So much went through my mind, and we went through so much together, and I’m looking up at the scoreboard and there’s only 11 laps to go. It just hit me all over again that he was truly gone.”

Welshan gathered his emotions, held the advantage through two more caution periods, and sealed the $10,040 victory in the organization’s fourth E-Z-GO Challenge Series event of the season over Cameron Weaver, Ricky Weiss, Cory Hedgecock and Mack McCarter in a race that featured hordes of side-by-side racing on a slick and racy surface that bordered on perfection.

“We were getting ready to go back green, and I kept saying to myself, ‘Come on Clyde, just a few more laps, man.” Welshan said. “Hold on, son. Hang with me. Then we had that last caution come out with two laps to go, and I Iooked skyward and said, ‘Well Clyde, that ain’t exactly the answer I was looking for right now.’ But I knew he’d stay with me because he always did, and we still got it done together.”

Winning For Clyde
Welshan, who had never previously claimed a victory in a $10,000-to-win event, finally had accomplished a long-desired goal. He waved the checkered flag from the roof of his car, and embraced friends and family in the winner’s circle.

It was clearly an important moment for the veteran competitor, who did not forget his long-time friend during the postrace festivities. He immediately dedicated the win to his friend during winner’s circle ceremonies, telling the crowd what a tough week it had been since losing his best buddy.

Later in the pit area, his words choked with heartfelt emotion and tears streaming down his face, Welshan voiced memories of his long-time friend.

“When you have a friend like him…” Welshan said. “I mean, what can you say? When you stop to think about it, a person really doesn’t have too many friends in a lifetime, let alone one like him. I can tell you he sure was a good one to have. That man has been with me in my darkest days, and has never let me down. He made me work harder, he made me a better person, and he taught me how to treat others better. Nobody really knew a lot of personal stuff about me except him, and he was always there for me, and he sure helped me through some really tough times.”

The pair had been friends since the early 90s, through both thick and thin. Stanton was around for many of the important moments in Welshan’s life, and even some that were less memorable, but perhaps no less important to Welshan’s personal development.

“I met him in ’94, and I’ve had a lot of firsts with this guy,” Welshan said. “He was there when my daughter was born, he was there when I got custody of her, he was there when I got put in the back of a police car for the first time, and he was with me the first time I ever got in a bar fight, even though he wasn’t involved. He was also there for my first go-kart win, and tonight I feel like we ended up with another first together…winning $10,000.”

Ten Grand for the First Time
While it might be hard to believe that Welshan’s long and successful career behind a race car’s steering wheel wasn’t yet spiced with a victory worth $10,000, he explained that was the case.

“It’s the first $10,000 victory I’ve ever had in my career,” Welshan said. “I’ve led a bunch of ‘em, and had some opportunities, but this is the first one and it means a lot to me. I’ve got 325 feature wins in Late Model-type cars, and I’ve won $6,000 races and a $7,500-to-win shows, but never a $10,000.”

His memories of close calls and missed opportunities kept flooding back as he basked in the moment.

“There was one time in a $10,000-to-win Super Late feature at Baxter, Tenn., I was so close…and Billy Ogle Jr. passed me in turn four and beat me to the finish by about five feet. I’ve also run second to Mark Whitener in $10,000-to-win races a few times, and he’s always encouraged me to keep diggin,’ He told me it’ll happen, and he also told me the second one will come easier.”

Remembering J.T. Kerr
The race was held in memory of Kerr, and prerace festivities included words to honor his life in the sport as a dedicated racer and businessman who served the industry for many years.

“Winning this race was pretty special to me because of J.T. [Kerr],” Welshan wrote on his social media pages a few days after the win. “It’s probably the biggest victory I’ve had in my career. The Kerr family and I have a long relationship dating back to 1994. I raced against them, beaten them on the track, got outrun by them on the same tracks, and bought thousands of dollars of parts from their business over the years.

“I brought my car owners to them, worked for them, drove their house car, and eventually we bought Competition Racing Equipment from them. The Kerr family has played a huge role in where I am today in my racing career. I’ve been blessed to know their family.”

Traffic Shuffles
En route to the win, Welshan was helped by numerous cautions that kept him from having to negotiate lapped traffic as much as would normally happen. Every time the field was tightened by a yellow, Welshan found a clear track ahead and used it to keep his advantage.

“Traffic, yes…we got a little break with all the cautions,” Welshan said. “The first time we caught ‘em, I didn’t have enough heat in my right-front tire and couldn’t get through ‘em very good. I had to play defense, and [eventual runnerup] Cameron [Weaver] got up under me a time or two. I was worried about the right-rear tire sealing over on us because we had the harder stuff on our car, but that sucker did not seal over and I couldn’t have asked for better tire wear. This place is eight miles from my house, and it usually doesn’t hurt tires, but it’s always in the back of your mind because 100 percent they will drive by you should that ever happen.”

Black to Red
The striking black/gold colors of Welshan’s Pontiac Trans Am-bodied machine has drawn much attention for the past two seasons, so it wasn’t surprising when a switch to a red/gold paint scheme was met with the same reaction.

“My car owner Jerry [Hux] favors red, and while I’m not a big fan of cars that color, my wife is a big Georgia Bulldogs fan, so she likes it,” Welshan said. “After tonight, I guess it’s kinda growing on me too.”

Welshan’s Hux Motorsports-fielded Savage Chassis carried sponsorship from J.J. Trucking & Excavating, DGR, Competition Racing Equipment, Team Huskey Logistics, Matlock Decal Co. and C&J Trucking.

The next events for the touring series will be July 1 and July 2, 2022, as the annual Salute to America doubleheader takes place at Moulton (Ala.) Speedway in Danville, Ala., and Talladega (Ala.) Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala.

About Crate Racin’ USA
The economical Chevrolet Performance 602 and 604 Circle Track Engine is utilized by competitors in the various divisions presented by Crate Racin’ USA. It’s in stock and available from Newsome Raceway Parts in Hartsville, S.C.

Each engine is built and sealed at the factory to prevent any expensive modifications. To place an order, call 1-877-497-3624.

For more information and rules, visit the organization’s website at www.crateracinusa.com, or follow our extensive social media programs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Newsome Raceway Parts, a division of Raceway Chevrolet in Hartsville, S.C., is the title sponsor of Crate Racin’ USA. E-Z-GO Golf Carts is the title sponsor of the newly-established E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge.

Chevrolet Performance is an official sponsor of the organization, along with Advanced Laser & Machine, Cruise with the Champions, Hoosier Racing Tire, KRC Power Steering, Knowles Race Parts and Bodies, My Race Pass, VP Racing Fuels and Lubricants and Willy’s Carburetors.

Official chassis sponsors include Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis and CVR Race Cars.

J.T. Kerr Memorial: 1. Jason Welshan, 2. Cameron Weaver, 3. Ricky Weiss, 4. Cory Hedgecock, 5. Mack McCarter, 6. Booger Brooks, 7. Matt Henderson, 8. Heath Alvey, 9. Jake Knowles, 10. Jason Cardwell, 11. Trevor Sise, 12. Zach Sise, 13. Hayden Cardwell, 14. Randall Beckwith, 15. Tony Lindsey, 16. Tanner Collins, 17. Jason Markewitz, 18. Jadon Frame, 19. Jake Rainey, 20. Jimmy Thomas, 21. Rusty Ballenger, 22. Phillip Thompson, 23. Baily Cardwell, 24. Skylar Marlar, 25. Matthew Brocato, 26. Tyler Price, 27. Greg Martin, 28. Chase Elliott.

Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series (current points): 1. Jimmy Thomas, 528; 2. Jason Welshan, 508; 3. Jake Rainey, 494; 4. Randall Beckwith, 480; 5. Jake Knowles, 464; 6. Tanner Collins, 436; 7. Matthew Brocato, 422; 8. Jason Markewitz, 382; 9. Jeremy Pate, 352; 10. Zach Shelton, 324.

E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge (current standings): 1. Jimmy Thomas, 336; 2. Jason Welshan, 332; 3. Randall Beckwith, 328; 4. Jake Rainey, 324; 5. Jake Knowles, 300; 6. Matthew Brocato, 282; 7. Jason Markewitz, 272; 8. Tanner Collins, 258; 9. Jeremy Pate, 234; 10. Clay Harris, 228.

Entries: 50
Boyd-Bilt Fast Qualifier: Oakley Johns, 15.516 seconds.
KRC Power Steering Heat Winners: Jason Welshan, Cameron Weaver, Ricky Weiss, Hayden Cardwell
KRC Power Steering B-Main Winners: Skylar Marlar, Trevor Sise
Lap leaders: Welshan 1-71.
Margin of victory: 0.890 seconds

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