WHEATLAND, Mo. – One of the most consistent drivers at Lucas Oil Speedway over the years has been Jason Pursley, who enjoyed another stellar season with a second-place finish in Pitts Homes USRA Modified points in 2017.
But on-track success is not the only gratifying thing about the dirt-track life for the veteran driver from Hermitage, who’s known as the “Racing Principal” for his full-time job as elementary-school boss man at Hickory County R-1 Skyline-Urbana.
Racing is a family sport for Pursley, whose 14-year-old son Dayton has been alongside every step of the way since he was old enough to carry a wrench. Not only has Dayton developed into a more-than-capable crew member, father and son have used the sport to form a bond.
“That’s one thing I’ve always said about racing,” Jason Pursley said. “It’s a lot more than just going in circles. Because Dayton is involved in racing, we spend countless hours together in the shop and at the race track.
“And as the parent of a teenager, I know where he’s going to be on Saturday nights. That means something to a parent.”
Dayton has become an important part of the operation in his dad’s Tom Campbell Racing No. 38 GRT, learning all aspects of what makes a race car tick. That’s been by design, as Jason Pursley required it before Dayton gets his chance to live his dream of racing.
“I’ve given him more and more responsibility every year,” Jason Pursley said. “He wants to race and I told him he had to learn how to work on them first. He’s done a good job and I let him do pretty much everything on the car now.”
So Dayton, a freshman basketball player at Skyline High School, will be making his racing debut next season in a B Mod. Jason Pursley said his son likely will start out at one of the area Friday-night speedways and eventually join the action at Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday nights.
“I want him to get a little experience first,” Jason Pursley said, noting that Dayton will make it four generations of racing Pursleys.
“It’s kind of a family deal for us,” Jason Pursley said. “He really wanted to race last year because he had a car, we just didn’t get it put together. I wanted him to learn to work on them first because I think it makes you a better driver if you have to fix your own stuff if you tear it up.”
Meanwhile, Jason Pursley will be looking to overtake four-time USRA Modified track champ Jeff Cutshaw after finishing runner-up for the second straight year and sixth or seventh time overall. This was the closest he’s come to a title, winding up just 21 points behind Cutshaw.
“Our season was better than last because we were more consistent,” Pursley said. “We kind of got the car figured out and had a lot of consistent runs.
“I can’t thank Tom Campbell enough for all he does for us. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be racing right now. I met Tom at the race track. We’ve become really good friends. Racing has a way of bringing people together. That’s one of the things that I really love about the sport.”