Smart adjustments by her crew during preliminary rounds and a phenomenal drive in the final landed Jessica Dana on the top step of the podium for the second straight event during Stars of PGP Kart Fall-Winter Series action on Sunday, Feb. 6 at PGP Motorsports Park.
Racing on a mostly wet track and facing a challenge from Kyle Byers on her outside, Jessica shot into the lead from the pole position at the drop of the green flag for the TaG Senior class final event. Jessica began to pull away from the field by the fourth corner and had built up a comfortable lead when Byers dropped out of the race on Lap 4 with mechanical problems.
Unpressured from behind, the 16-year-old from Tumwater, Wash., continued to push in her Arrow X9 kart, laying down fast lap times in just her second race in wet conditions. About the midpoint of the race, however, a drier line began to form while at the same time Jessica and her crew noticed the handling of her kart was rapidly going away.
Unsure of what had happened, the crew signaled Jessica to stop pushing and manage her equipment to finish the race. Jessica nodded and wrapped up the win without incident, crossing the finish line 13.5 seconds ahead of second place while her crew sweated through every corner.
Rolling through the scales for the post-race weigh-in, the reason for Jessica’s handling problem was obvious to see: The tread on her left rear rain tire had completely worn away. “It was like driving on ice every time I turned right,” said Jessica after the race.
It was an all-female podium, as Paige Wallin finished second and 19-year-old Nicole Bell captured third place in her first TaG Senior race. Bell, who also finished fourth in the pre-final, shared a pit with Jessica and was crewed by Kurtis Hess and her father, Wendell Bell.
Jessica won her TaG Senior debut in the previous PGP Kart Fall-Winter Series event held on Jan. 2. The runner-up in that race was Tyler Tanner, her Tanner Dana Racing teammate who was taking part in just his second competition kart race. Under the TDR banner the duo will race late-model stock cars as well as in select kart events. A sophomore studying mechanical engineering at Arizona State University, in 2010 Tanner earned two poles and finished second overall in points racing late models at South Sound Speedway in Tenino, Wash.
On Sunday, a light, steady rain and wind kept the both crews and drivers on their toes, as did the desire to get home to watch the Super Bowl. Throughout two practice sessions and before qualifying, the pre-final and final races, Matt Kindrick made key set-up and air pressure adjustments to improve the handling of Jessica’s kart, with Mike Rolison of Rolison Performance Group, winner of multiple kart championships as a driver and instructor, helping out by phone.
Jessica’s battle with Byers began during qualifying, with the wet track and slower traffic keeping the faster drivers from getting clear laps. Driving a brand-new Kosmic Kart, Byers appeared to have the pole wrapped up until Jessica put down a faster time on the final lap.
The two started the pre-final side-by-side on the front row, Jessica on the pole with Byers to her outside, and Byers took the lead heading into turn 1 of the opening lap. Jessica pressured him for several laps, probing for a spot where she could make a clean pass, before finally seeing an opening and getting around Byers for the lead and eventual victory.
On the Web
A Tanner Dana Racing website is planned for the near future, but in the meantime please visit www.JessicaDanaRacing.com or “like” Tanner Dana Racing, Jessica Dana Racing and Tyler Tanner Motorsports on Facebook. You can also follow @TannerDanaRacin on Twitter.
About Tanner Dana Racing
Tanner Dana Racing was formed in late 2010 to support two up-and-coming drivers, Tyler Tanner and Jessica Dana, and to help them achieve their shared goal of racing at the highest levels of motorsports.