KENT, Wash. — (Aug. 26, 2010) One setup change turned a good weekend of kart racing into a great one for Jessica Dana.
Racing in the Rotax Senior class, the 15-year-old from Tumwater, Wash., made the podium both days during Round 3 of the I-5 Corridor Series at PGP Motorsports Park, including a Sunday sweep with victories in both the final and heat race, and the fastest qualifying time.
Jessica also established the class record for the track’s clockwise full-course configuration with a lap of 1 minute, 01:009 seconds during Sunday’s final. The weekend marked just the second time, and the first without rain, that PGP had run a competition in that direction of the full-course configuration, so the fastest time in each category became the new benchmark.
The weekend event was just the fourth time Jessica had raced in the Rotax Senior class, but she showed her intention to compete by qualifying third, and then finishing third in the heat race on Saturday. That put her in the second row for the start of the final, but after the green flag dropped Jessica quickly dropped three spots to sixth in the scramble for position heading into the first corner. Never losing her composure, Jessica fought her way back to the front, finishing third for her first podium of the weekend.
During Saturday’s on-track action, Jessica’s crew chief and father Troy Dana noticed she was losing time to other racers on the straights of PGP’s .82-mile track, and a prior dyno run confirmed her kart was down on horsepower. A gear and chassis change made prior to Sunday’s events eliminated some of her straight-line speed loss, but also required Jessica to adjust her cornering technique.
A father-daughter track-walk prior to Sunday qualifying to discuss PGP’s 14 corners proved beneficial as Jessica promptly adjusted her line during practice and put herself on the pole for the heat race, which she came back to win after slipping to second-place under intense pressure from behind. Jessica also established the new clockwise track record during the heat race, but that mark didn’t last long.
Jessica led Sunday’s final race flag-to-flag, but it wasn’t easy going after her kart’s handling was negatively affected by contact from the rear heading into the first corner. Although Jessica’s kart was tight — didn’t want to turn — in the corners, she was able to better her own track record and build a lead over the second- and third-place drivers as they were racing for position and losing time to Jessica. In fact, as the laps wound down she slowed her pace at times to avoid overdriving her ill-handling kart en route to the victory.
About Jessica Dana Racing: Jessica Dana Racing was founded in 2010 to help the high school sophomore from Tumwater, Wash., achieve her goal of racing at the highest levels of motorsports. Jessica began riding ATVs when she was 4, and racing them at 8. Two months after sitting in a kart for the first time she was recording a top-5 finish at the 2009 U.S. Indoor Kart Championships. Over a two-month period in the spring of 2010, Jessica raced and defeated both four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and extreme motorsports star Travis Pastrana in charity kart events. Jessica has also gotten behind the wheel of a Baby Grand scaled-down stockcar, and she is looking to get seat time in a Super Stock late model.