JESSICA DANA’S ‘BEST DRIVE OF THE YEAR’ ENDS IN VICTORY LANE AT NIKA NORTHWEST CHAMPIONSHIP
Six days later the 15-year from Tumwater, Wash., finishes second overall in Stars of PGP karting series
KENT, Wash. — Two weekends, two solid finishes including an impressive regional karting series victory and a regional series runner-up for Jessica Dana.
The 15-year-old high-school student from Tumwater, Wash., started her week by coming from the third row to win the feature race of the National Indoor Karting Association’s Northwest Regional Championship on Sunday, Sept. 26 at PGP Motorsports Park.
Six days later, on Saturday, Oct. 2, Jessica secured a second-place overall trophy in Rotax Senior class of the Stars of PGP Series by finishing second in the feature race of the season finale, also held at PGP Motorsports Park.
“It was great fun running so well at both events,” said Jessica. “Our team did a great job both days. I really need to thank sponsors Apex Karting, D3, Pacific Real Estate Partners and Smith Racing Development, and especially my team — Matt Kindrick, mom and dad (Pam and Troy Dana).”
Jessica got around Maurice Sawver for the lead when he went wide into a turn, and then she held off a fierce challenge from Jerry Peterson as the laps wound down to win the NIKA championship feature race. She was fifth on the starting grid for that race, but from the drop of the green flag Jessica moved forward to shadow leader Shawver and Peterson running in second. There was rain throughout the day, but conditions improved for the finale and the three lead karters broke away from the rest of the field.
Jessica passed Peterson in the pits when both came in at the same time for their mandatory stops, while Sawver remained on the track until later. Sawver was able to hold the lead through his mandatory visit to the pits, but Jessica had cut into the margin enough that she was ready to take advantage when the opportunity presented itself.
Peterson got around Sawver for second and then moved in on Jessica, pressuring her by closing up to her back bumper with just a handful of laps remaining. Each driver was stronger in different sections of the track, so the margin between them varied during each circuit, but they were nose-to-tail by the start-finish line. Although he had a couple chances, Peterson couldn’t get around her and Jessica took the checkered flag in what NIKA president Mike Smith called “her best drive of the year.”
Jessica secured an automatic berth in the NIKA feature race by finishing second in her semi-final race, and she also secured a pair of pole starts in earlier heat races.
The Stars of PGP finale was a day of seconds for Jessica, who was the second best in qualifying, the heat race and the finale — all three behind youngster Kyle Byers.
Despite having the fastest qualifying times, both Byers and Jessica elected to start the finale from the back row. Once the green flag fell they sliced through the field to the front. Jessica could keep pace with him on cold tires, but Byers had a definite speed advantage after he got heat into his tires.
Jessica had been a full second slower than Byers in the first practice session earlier in the day, so she and her crew tried some aggressive gear-change and air-pressure options to find the pace Byers displayed. By the end of the second practice the gap had been narrowed to less than a half-a-second, but Byers’ speed could not be matched.
Photo credits: Photos 1 and 3 courtesy of PGP Motorsports Park. Photo 2 courtesy Mike Smith, NIKA.
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.
Jessica Dana Racing sponsorship & media contact: Troy Dana, (360) 352-9003, Troy.Dana@d3rec.com