Driving for family friend and car owner Dean Boever, Naches, Wash., native Jason Jefferson never envisioned that he and the team would be sitting atop the late model standings at Spokane County Raceway heading into Saturday’s season championship event.
The feature division championship marks the first time in many years the track has honored a top performer in its premier class.
Jefferson has championships at Tri-City Raceway and Yakima Speedway; is the 2003 Rookie of the Year on the NASCAR Northwest Series; won on the NASCAR Camping World West Series, in which this season he’s working with third-place driver Greg Pursley; but he’d never run the high-banked oval in Airway Heights until stepping into Boever’s car.
The experience has been worthwhile and a good release from the rigors of the West Series grind, Jefferson said.
“Dean allows me to drive his race car while I’m out there with the West team and we’ve had a blast running Spokane County this year,” he said. “It’d be cool to win the championship for him, because he use to work for my dad (famed Northwest car owner George Jefferson) and we’ve known each other for a long time.
“When he asked me to do this, I would have never thought we’d be in the hunt for a championship but would just go out there and try to win a few races and have fun.”
At SCR the car owner earns the points. Boever’s car has had Jefferson behind the wheel the majority of the season, but it also saw Bruce Garber take two green flags and Casey Akers run it on Aug. 29. The car has finished inside the top 10 in each start and Jefferson has its lone victory.
To win a track championship Jefferson will have to defeat the Inland Empire’s late model benchmark, the Garber family. Jefferson sits eight points ahead of Dan Garber and barely held off David Garber (47 points behind first place in third) for the win in May.
“To be out there running against (the Garbers) is awesome, because their family has so much history in this area, so this should be a great weekend of racing at SCR to watch us all battle for this championship,” Jefferson said.
With Jefferson working on the West series, the day-to-day tasks on the No. 97 are left to Boever and an all-volunteer crew, leaving little time for the NASCAR star to provide suggestions to their overall improvement.
“You just adjust to what the car is doing during a practice and make the changes you can after each run,” he said. “This car has been handling good all year no matter who has been behind the wheel, so we’re going to come in on Saturday and try to do our best for the fans, the sponsors who make it possible and the track in its first year back up and running.
“It’s an honor to drive for Dean and I don’t take this lightly. I could be sitting at home on an off weekend from the West series, but I’m glad he asked me to come to SCR and drive this Hippo Car Wash Dodge Charger in the late model division.”
Running in Spokane for the first time in his career has been a thrill for Jefferson.
“This area is a great place for a race fan to be, with Stateline and SCR 30 minutes apart and Yakima, Kalispell and Wenatchee just a few hours from here,” he said. “I’m just happy to have a chance to be part of it. I wish the NASCAR series would come up to this area and put on a show for these fans.”