If there’s a way a driver wants to go out, it’s certainly on top of victory lane.
Jason Hathaway was able to do just that, leading the most laps en route to scoring the victory on Sunday in the Kawartha 250 at Kawartha Speedway. The win came just days after announcing this year would be his last full-time season in the Pinty’s Series.
“We made a plan on the way here to get a win – I didn’t want to go out wrecking,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I got the job done, so I kept the wife happy. But you know, we’ve always had good cars here. It’s just biding our time and playing the strategy game on pit road. We got beat by tires on the ovals the last few races so we thought we’d pit later in the race and see if we could get through the traffic, and it worked out for us.
“It’s just a family deal with our car – Choko, Fast Eddie, HTC – we don’t have any corporate sponsors, just our own family companies, and we’re having fun. So no sense being here if you’re not having fun, and we’re having fun.”
Starting the event from seventh, Hathaway quickly made his way to the front of the field, taking the top spot on Lap 65. He led till pitting under caution for four tires at Lap 147. Though due to drivers staying out due to pitting under yellow earlier in the race, he was shuffled back to the eighth spot.
“Graham (Annis) was kind of mad at himself, saying, ‘Sorry it’s my fault. I blew the strategy a little bit on when to take tires’,” Hathaway said. “But I said, ‘Just give me the tires and I’ll do the rest,’ and that’s what happened. Everybody says they have the best crew in the business, but I’ve had the same guys for 12 years, some five-to-seven years, and that’s what you need in this sport, knowing you have the commitment from them and their family. It shows on the race track.”
He made quick work of the track, passing Mark Dilley with 75 laps to go to take the lead. From then on, he cruised the rest of the way en route to victory lane. For Hathaway, it marked the third time he had visited Kawartha’s victory lane in NASCAR competition.
“It just fits my style,” he said. “You really got to save your stuff and ease in the throttle, ease in the brakes. This track has always liked me. I won a thunder car race the night it opened, won a CASCAR race, NASCAR here, and Summer Sizzler in a Late Model. Whatever I come here in, I normally finish up front so it just fits my style and I love coming here.”
Including this past season, Hathaway has spent the past 12 years in the series and is only one of two drivers to compete in every race in the series’ history, along with D.J. Kennington. During that time, he has picked up nine wins and 74 top-10s, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the series standings last season. Looking back at his career, he says memorable moments include his first career Pinty’s win at Kawartha Speedway, finishing second in points in 2015, and his first road course victory last year.
While he makes the step away from full-time competition, it may not be the end of his racing career as always smiling, laid back driver admits there may be some plans in the works.
“I know a few things certain and one of those things for certain is we’re going to build a house,” he said. “We’re going to get a boat and relax on the beach with the kids a few weekends, and we’ll probably race something – a few Late Model races, or a couple road courses with CTMP being close to our house. Nothing is certain in racing right now so we’ll see what we want to do.
“If we go racing, the guys will be here; if you buy a boat, the guys will be there – whatever we do, we’ll do as a team.”
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