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Welshan Overcomes Steep Odds to Win House of Hook 50

Welshan Overcomes Steep Odds to Win House of Hook 50

MERIDIAN, Miss. (May 7) — The early afternoon hours were drifting steadily away, and Jason Welshan of Maryville, Tenn., knew he was supposed to be working on his car in the pit area while preparing for the night’s $5,000-to-win House of Hook 50 Saturday night at Whynot Motorsports Park, where the Newsome/Raceway Parts Network Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series was scheduled to make its first appearance at the track since May, 2019.

Instead, Welshan was sitting on the side of the interstate, victimized by a mechanical breakdown of the truck that was being used to haul his potent Savage Chassis machine to the quarter-mile racetrack located just outside Meridian, Miss. The truck had been acting up for nearly 50 miles, and the attempt to nurse it to the quarter-mile facility failed. A blown motor stranded the team 51 miles from the racetrack, and the night looked lost.

“I didn’t really know what to do, to be honest with you,” Welshan said hours later after making a superb effort to make it to the race. “The first thing I did was call [series director] Adam Stewart, and he called me right back immediately and told me he didn’t know what we were gonna do either, but he was already working on it.”

Stewart was overseeing a Crate Racin’ USA Weekly Racing Series show at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala., but started punching numbers into his cell phone and contacting resources to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, fellow competitors at the track heard about Welshan’s misfortune, and they went to work as well.

With a Little Help From My Friends
“It’s an old Chevy truck we bought for about $4,000, and we’ve put what seems like another $25,000 in it, but I guess it still can’t get us to the racetrack,” Welshan said with a wry grin, which was much easier to display after a rough day that ended with him holding a big cardboard check in the winner’s circle. He stuffed five grand in his driver’s suit pocket, and eventually left the Magnolia State with the series points lead on the Newsome Raceway Parts Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series after the first three races of the season.

His victory lane interview ranged from pure ecstasy upon climbing from the car to deep emotional appreciation as he thanked his fellow competitors for their efforts to help him after several teamed together to make sure he could arrive at the racetrack in time to hot lap and qualify for the night’s main event. Tears welled in Welshan’s eyes as he struggled to find the right words to express his appreciation.

“We got here about 5:30 p.m., and I’ll tell you it’s sure been a long day,” Welshan said. “I just knew we had to get to the racetrack, and we were broke down so far away from home. All I wanted to do was reach the track. I was frustrated, but that’s when everyone pitched in to help us. It was very humbling to have that happen. Mark Whitener called and said ‘I’m coming right now to get you, so don’t worry because we sure ain’t leaving ya on the side of the interstate.’”

The weight of Welshan’s trailer and the height of Whitener’s hauler hitch didn’t match up properly, and the hookup couldn’t be made to get Welshan’s trailer down the road. Dale Dowdy, who is the father of up-and-coming driver Dalton Dowdy, then stepped in to do his part.

“He called and said he was dropping his own trailer at the track, and he told me, ‘I’m coming to get ya.’ We waited on him because it was 50 miles from the track, and when he got here we hooked up to his hauler, and arrived just in time to unload and run hot laps and qualify. Without all of those guys and several more, there’s no way I’d have been here tonight. What those guys all did for me…there’s no way I can show enough appreciation for what they did.

“I get tore up about that stuff, because I don’t feel like we deserve that,” Welshan continued. “It’s just the way I am, I guess. You never know how it’s gonna work when it’s your turn to need help, and it’s just amazing to have all those guys go out of their way for me like they did. I don’t really know what to say. The win is great, but it isn’t as important to me as the way it happened. I mean…all those guys helping us out? That just means so much more than a win.”

It’s a Racy Place…
Helped significantly by the drivers he competes against on a regular basis, and humbled by their efforts to assist him, Welshan was able to leave his truck on the side of the road and concentrate on a race in which he had to make the 24-car starting field via winning a B-main. He struggled to find the right gear ratio, and changed them out three different times during the night, but otherwise left the car untouched.

“To have the kinda day we did and then come from a B-main to win the race, I never would have believed it,” Welshan said. “It’s just unbelievable the way it all happened. This sport will humble you like nothing else, and then turn around and reward you. I’ve never seen nothing like it.”

During the main event for Chevrolet Performance 604 engine-equipped machines, he rocked and rolled in the lower groove to advance from 11th on the grid to the lead after passing Joseph Joiner for the lead on the 34th circuit en route to the winner’s circle in a 50-lapper.

Welshan led Joiner to the stripe by a comfortable advantage after his determined drive through the field from the inside of the sixth row, while Joiner edged Jake Knowles by a narrow margin for second position in a close race to the line. Hunter Lewis and Casey Haney rounded out the top five finishers.

Welshan was the fourth and final leader of a highly-competitive event that featured four lead exchanges among four different drivers, and put on display the extreme raceability of a track that holds the hearts of fans who have had an opportunity to witness an event at the Rodney and Cassie Wing-promoted oval.

Knowles led the first lap, but a side-by-side battle with David Williamson for the lead sent the latter to the point for a single lap. Knowles retook the top spot and paced the field until the 18th circuit when Joseph Joiner’s low-groove maneuverability earned the Milton, Fla., driver the point from laps 19-33. That’s when Welshan, also using the low side, exploded past Joiner into a lead he never again relinquished.

Fender Flopper Difficulties for Joiner
It was a lap-29 restart that gave Welshan an eventual opportunity to steal the lead, and also cost Joiner a legitimate shot at the win. Welshan was running fourth when the caution appeared, left the second corner on the restart in second place, and passed Joiner when a fender flopper came loose on the Milton, Fla., driver’s Hunt the Front entry.

“If that doesn’t happen to them, I don’t know if we win the race,” Welshan said. “It might have been a lot closer at the checkered flag.”

Joiner was obviously disappointed at the team’s sudden bad luck that helped drop them from the lead to a distant second-place finish.

“The car was really good, and I think me and Jason [Welshan] were going to match up with about the same speed,” Joiner said. “When that caution on lap 29 came out and we went back racing, a steel brace that holds the fender in place came loose and the right-front flopper was getting caught under the right-front tire, and I couldn’t steer the car as well. From there I had to just turn on the bottom, and finish the race the best we could.

“We might have finished a really close second instead of losing by a straightaway, but Jason [Welshan] was running really good here tonight. There was a good field of cars here and we’ll take second. That’s never a good thing because we all want to win races, but there’s not much you can do when something freak like that happens. We just basically hung on for second.”

Initial Whynot Appearance
Want more hard-to-believe facts surrounding Welshan’s unexpected and memorable march to the checkered flag? The Volunteer State-based driver had never previously made an appearance at the track, a fact he related to track promoter Rodney Wing after the event while sitting in his car on the frontstretch.

Wing pulled up on a four-wheeler, and asked if he’d ever raced at the track before? Welshan peered out from the driver’s seat after the postrace festivities had calmed down, and said, “Never. I’ve heard a lot about it, and people have told me how good this place can be, but it’s the first time I’ve even seen the place. All week long people were calling the shop and telling me I was gonna love this track. They were right, because I loved it!”

Sponsors and Schedules
Welshan was behind the wheel of a Savage Race Cars entry fielded by Hux Motorsports and sponsored by J&J Trucking & Excavating, Millwood Plumbing, Mike Clinch Racing, Competition Racing Equipment, Fike Fabrication, Hickman Manufacturing, Team Huskey Logistics, Allen’s Pools, MRC Transportation Inc., Crate Engine Technology, and Matlock Decal Company.

The next event for the touring series will be May 12-13 at Needmore Speedway in Norman Park, Ga., when the much-anticipated Gene Maine Memorial takes place at the Chance Smith-promoted oval.

Other upcoming events for the Adam Stewart-managed touring series includes the $10,000-to-win Harvey Jones Memorial slated May 26-27 at All-Tech Raceway in Ellisville, Fla., and a Friday-Saturday doubleheader slated June 2 at I-75 Raceway in Niota, Tenn., ($5,000 to win) and June 3 at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala. The latter event is paying a $10,000 prize to the winner.

House of Hook 50: 1. Jason Welshan, 2. Joseph Joiner, 3. Jake Knowles, 4. Hunter Lewis, 5. Casey Haney, 6. Hunter Peacock, 7. Trynt Lloyd, 8. Jason Henry, 9. Oakley Johns, 10. Chris McElhenney, 11. Mark Underwood Jr., 12. Rodney Wing, 13. Jimmy Thomas, 14. Blake Craft, 15. Mark Whitener, 16. Mario Gresham, 17. David Williamson, 18. Doug Van Den Brink, 19. Tim Dees, 20. Jason Markewitz, 21. Ryan Boudreaux, 22. K I Davis, 23. Ryan Colby, 24. Shannon Lee.

Entries: 35
Fast qualifier: Jason Henry, 13.385 seconds.
Lead changes: Four among four different drivers.
Lap leaders: Jake Knowles, 1, David Williamson, 2, Jake Knowles 3-18, Joseph Joiner 19-33, Jason Welshan 34-50.
Margin of victory: 6.806 seconds
Cautions: 2
B-main winners: Jason Welshan, Ryan Colby.

Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series (current points): 1. Jason Welshan, 258; 2. Mark Whitener, 248; 3. Trynt Lloyd, 244; 4. Jake Knowles, 238; 5. Hunter Peacock, 224; 6. Blake Craft, 222; 7. Jimmy Thomas, 220; 8. Mario Gresham, 216; 9. Cody Overton, 180; 10. (tie) Jeremy Steele and Jason Markewitz, 146; 12. Joseph Joiner, 140; 13. Mark Underwood Jr., 138; 14. Cody Haskins, 132; 15. Doug Van Den Brink, 126; 16. Matthew Brocato, 122; 17. Hayden Cardwell, 120; 18. Jimmy Sharpe Jr., 110; 19. (tie) Kyle Bronson, Dillon Brown and Lucas Ruark, 100.

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