Jason Welshan hopes to continue stepping up his program in 2014

Jason Welshan

Jason Welshan

Jason Welshan is known for not only for being one of the most talented drivers in the east Tennessee region, but also one of the most versatile. The Maryville, Tenn. driver regularly competes in three different Late Model classes, often participating in multiple races on the same night.

In 2013, Welshan looked to step up his program by running more Super Late Model races than had been the case in previous years. He followed the Southern Regional Racing Series tour for the full season as well as hitting many other major shows along the way. And as has been the case so often in recent years, he experienced plenty of success along the way.

“Last year was pretty good for us,”Welshan said in a recent interview. “We came out of it with 18 wins. That wasn’t as many as we’d had in previous years but we did the SRRS deal and travelled around trying to step our program up by running some more super late model races. That went pretty good for us.

“We didn’t win any of those races but we ended up getting ‘Rookie of the Year’ and running second in the points to Josh Putnam. Going into the last three races of that deal we had a shot at winning it but we had a couple of bad races there at the end that cost us. We were real pleased with that overall though.”

However, that time spent on the road had some minor drawbacks. Racing in more SLM races forced Welshan to cut back in other areas.

“We didn’t run as many crate races as we had been running because we were trying to step up our program up,” the 34-year-old driver explained. “This coming year we’re going to continue running more super late model races and travel around a little bit but mostly try to hit the bigger local races close to our shop here in Maryville.”

Welshan will unveil a new look on his racers this season.

Welshan will unveil a new look on his racers this season.

The highlight of Welshan’s 2013 season came when he claimed the $6,000 first prize in a Vic Hill sanctioned steelhead Late Model event at the Volunteer Speedway in October.

“That was definitely our biggest win of 2013,” Welshan declared. “That was really a good win for us. B & B Race Engines came forward and helped us out by putting a real good piece together to run some of those bigger steelhead races. But yeah, that was an awesome win for our team, we really needed that.

“I thought we had a shot at winning the first one up there(August) but I bent some stuff on the front end when I was hot lapping and that kind of put us behind the 8-ball,” he said.”We never really got the car back like we wanted it. When we went back for the second one we approached it a little differently. I had told everybody on our team that I thought we had a shot at winning it and it worked out. It was a good race between me, Mark Martin, Cory Hedgecock and Trevor Sise. We were slicin’ and dicin’ there for a good while.”

That lucrative victory left the full time racer hoping for more success in similar events.

“I’m looking forward to running those races again this year,” Weshan pointed out. “We’ve still got our steelhead program and we’ll run it in the steelhead races and at some of the slicker tracks where you don’t need a whole lot of motor in the super late models.”

Since he does not plan to follow a particular touring series in 2014, Welshan will be free to resume his varied schedule.

“We’ve got our crate program going back again this year,” he said. “We’re going to run some of the bigger crate races. We’re going to pick and choose this year. If we want to go race the crate in some kind of series race that pays real good, we’ll do that. Most likely we’ll be running two cars just about every weekend.”

But there’s always the possibility that plans could change under the right circumstances.

“I don’t think we will, but you never know,” he said when asked about following a series. “If we come out of the gate running good in one of these series, we might change our mind and stick in there. But for the most part, I think we’ve decided to just kind of chase the money. We don’t want to wear out one race car. We want to keep the laps down on all of them but still be able to run for pretty good paydays.”

Welshan will begin the season with four cars in his stable. Two of those machines are dedicated to open motor racing with one each for the steelhead and crate races. “We’ve worked this winter trying to build our stock back up. We had sold some cars and I had crashed a car at Smoky Mountain so we had to get it fixed. We were kind of down at the end of last year.”

Recent changes in track ownership may cause this highly successful driver to depart from past habits to some degree. With the takeover of the Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, GA by David Duplissey and Dale McDowell and that ownership’s announced move from Friday nights to Saturdays, Welshan may have to race fewer times at one of his better tracks.

“I consider Boyd’s to be my home track because I’ve had so much success there even though it’s two hours away from us,” he explained. “In the past, they’ve paid the best weekly purse of anyone within two hours of our shop. That’s why we go down there to race. If they continue to do that, I’ll drive down there on Saturday nights when there’s nothing else going on. And I’m still hoping somebody will decide to race on Friday nights because we won’t know what to do with ourselves if we’re not racing two nights a week.”

Welshan has always been one to set goals for himself going into each season. 2014 will be no different in that regard.

“I set the bar high a couple of years ago when I set my goal for 29 wins but that’s what I always shoot for, to win 30-plus in a season. And I’d like to win some more super late model races. We got finally our first one last year at Winchester so I’d like to win a couple more of them, maybe even a $10,000-to-win show.”

Victory Lane has become an all-to-familiar place for Welshan.

Victory Lane has become an all-to-familiar place for Welshan.

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