Jason Sides has experienced his share of highs and lows this season, but there's still one hurdle he's yet to climb.
Winless at the three-quarter mark of the World of Outlaws schedule, Sides is entering this weekend's Knoxville 410 Nationals at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway with one objective in mind -- reaching Victory Lane.
"[The season has been] like a roller coaster, up and down, up and down," Sides said. "We've had some good runs, and all of the sudden it would turn around and be pretty shitty for a while, then we would have a few good chances. ... We've been close to winning a few of them but just couldn't get it done. We're trying to work on that."
Sides' best finish this year came when he finished second in April's Bob Newton Classic at Plymouth (Indiana) Speedway.
Last week, Sides, added another top 10 in the opener of a two-night show at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, bringing his season total to 19. The second night in Pevely, MO, was rained out, which stalled the forward momentum for the team.
Knoxville can be a wild card track on the circuit, but Sides is going into it with high hopes and a freshly improved ride.
"We feel pretty good this year," he said. "We got some fresh pieces (and) fresh motors that we're looking forward to. We had a couple of good runs when we were here with the Outlaws. It all depends on qualifying and where you draw the pill. You have a decent pill draw and get yourself into the right position you can do really good here."
The Outlaws went to Knoxville for a two-night show earlier this year on June 9 and 10. Sides finished 21st the first night after narrowly missing transferring directly from his heat into the A-Main. He had to fight through the Last Chance Showdown, where he finished third to advance. On the second night, Sides found his rhythm early to finish second in his heat behind Donny Schatz. After starting seventh in the A, however, Sides spun into the turn one to bring out the second caution and ended up 21st in the field.
Sides and the rest of the Outlaws will be fighting the disadvantage of only having two starts at the track this year. They are competing against a highly talented field of local drivers who are more used to how the racing lines move during the night. That means the hometown heroes will find their rhythm earlier in the night. Sides likes that the track lends itself to hard racing, as different drivers will have the choice between running high or low.
"It's a different type place," he said. "All in all I like it, because it has a top and a bottom. It's a really raceable race track -- it's a fun track."
Sides' sprint car career was influenced by his older brother, Paul, who moved into the sport before him. Before being won over by sprints and moving into the seat, Jason got his kicks racing motocross.
"My brother Paul got [a sprint car], and he let me drive it one night and it was a whole new adrenaline rush," Sides said. "So I got myself one."
Those feelings have not gone away after running sprints for 13 years. Even when the team has to work to fight its way out of doldrums, Sides continues to enjoy his chance to race at the top level.
"Yeah, yeah I do [still get that same adrenalin rush]," he said. "Some nights not as much as others, but for the most part I still get in there and enjoy it and love the hell out of it."
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