Racin' Jason White high on Daytona finishes, has Pinty's, Talladega on the mind

Racin’ Jason White is a hired hand with a lead foot.

“I’m a freelance driver now,” said White, a Sun Peaks resident.

“I don’t have the time, the funding or the backing and my marriage probably wouldn’t last if I was full-time in race cars.

“I’m 47 years old. I don’t necessarily get paid any more. I just get to go race in Daytona.”

White’s next shot at the checkered flag is likely to come on Aug. 15, when the NASCAR Pinty’s Series begins with two races at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ont.

There is reason for optimism.

The 2020 campaign started well for White, who exceeded expectations in a pair of Daytona Speedweeks events in February at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed the brakes on the season.

Speedweeks curtain-raisers, such as the ARCA Menards Series race on Feb. 8 and the Gander RV and Outdoor Truck Series race on Feb. 14, led into the main event, the Daytona 500, the NASCAR Cup Series showdown won by Denny Hamlin on Feb. 16.

White signed deals to drive for underdog teams based in Charlotte, N.C.— Fast Track Racing for the stock-car event and Reaume Brothers Racing for the pickup-truck race.

Driving a Chevrolet Camaro for the ARCA event, the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire, White qualified fourth among 33 cars.

He cruised to a sixth-place finish in the race.

“It was astronomical for me,” White said. “At that point, it was the best finish I ever had in my career.”

White hopped into a Chevy Silverado for the Gander RV and Outdoor Truck Series event, the Nextera Energy 250, known for its crashes and mayhem.

He barely qualified, limping into the Friday night race on Valentine’s Day with a starting position of 31st among 32 trucks.

“They [Reaume Brothers Racing] get the hand-me-downs from the juggernaut teams, so I was in a truck that was supposed to finish in the bottom third, but we kept our nose clean throughout the race and finished 10th.

“For the team I raced for, it’s one of their best finishes ever. It’s their best result for the season.”

The pickup-truck thriller — which White considers the top finish of his career to date — featured three wrecks that wiped 10 trucks out of contention.

White reached the 100-race milestone on the Pinty’s Series last July in Saskatoon, a remarkable feat for a Western Canadian driver considering most of the races are held in Ontario and Quebec.

“It might not ever be matched by somebody from the west,” said White, who gave a tip of the cap to longtime sponsor Zimmer Wheaton. “I have a lot of drive. You know where a lot of that comes from? The Kamloops Rugby Club. I learned a lot from 15, 20 years of rugby.”

White is rejoining the DJK Racing team and will be driving a Dodge Challenger during the Sunset Speedway races, which will air tape-delayed on TSN and RDS.

“I think I should be a top-five contender if all the cards fall right,” White said. “There are so many variables through the day and the night, though. But I could win the race. It’s not out of the question.”

Whether he enters more Pinty’s races this season may depend on the state of the virus crisis, which has already kept him from completing a bucket-list task — competing at Talladega.

He was slated to race in the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 200 at the Talladega Superspeedway on June 20.

“The risk was too much with COVID,” White said. “I decided to take it on the chin and not go to Talladega, which was probably the toughest thing that’s ever happened.”

But all the hours spent on Talladega in his simulator may still prove fruitful.

The Gander RV Outdoor and Truck Series Sugarlands Shine 250 is scheduled for Oct. 3 — and White will be there unless the pandemic keeps him away.

“I’ve got a few years left in me and we’ll see if we can go and win one of these things,” White said.

“I definitely have a winning attitude. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

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