Consistency fuels DeCarlo’s title run in Heat Hornets Division

Published 5:00 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

BY JOE CHANDLER

South Boston Speedway

Jason DeCarlo is proof of how important consistency is when it comes to winning a track championship.

The Chase City resident won the 2022 South Boston Speedway (SBS) Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division championship without a win. His record of seven Top-Five finishes and having finished no worse than sixth in any race was strong enough to carry DeCarlo to his first career SBS track title.

In the final points tally, DeCarlo edged his best friend, two-time former division champion Kevin Currin of Chase City, by eight points to win the title.

“Winning the championship means a lot to me,” DeCarlo remarked. “To win a championship at SBS – I don’t know the word to describe it. It’s really cool. Looking through all the pictures of my crew at the track on championship night, like hugging my spotter Jonathon Bailey and when Kevin (Currin) came running over to congratulate me, that meant more than just winning the championship.”

‘A GREAT RELIEF’

For DeCarlo wrapping up the division championship on the final night of racing was a great relief.

“It was a huge relief to win the championship, and it was exciting when we did it,” DeCarlo said. “It was getting kind of tense down there towards the end. Kevin was steadily gaining, and we were managing to stay in front of him.”

Consistency was DeCarlo’s hallmark through the season. Competing in his second season in the division, he posted a pair of second-place finishes, a pair of third-place finishes, two fourth-place finishes, a fifth-place finish and three sixth-place finishes during the 2022 season.

“Consistency is a big thing in winning a championship,” DeCarlo pointed out. “I had a little experience coming into the season and we were able to figure out some things with the car. We have the only little Mazda out there on the track. We learned more about the car, I learned the track better, figured out where the best place was for me to run on the track and tried to make myself more consistent in my driving style.

“The other part,” DeCarlo continued, “was we stayed on top of the maintenance of the car, kept the car running, made sure everything was good on it, and it ran consistently all year.”

THE DISAPPOINTING PART

The disappointing part of the season for DeCarlo was not winning a race.

“The only thing about the season I’m not pleased about is we did not get a win,” DeCarlo noted. “I feel like it is in us. It was just nothing really clicked for us to get it. We’re going to shoot for a few wins next year.”

The first half of the season was fun for DeCarlo, but the second half of the season produced more tension as Currin, who missed starting an early-season race because of a mechanical failure, began producing wins and climbing into contention for the title. Currin finished his season with a division-high four wins in his nine starts.

“I enjoyed the beginning, the good strong finishes, but when you get into a points chase with your best friend it is kind of nerve-wracking,” DeCarlo explained. “We don’t let off of each other. We were talking junk back and forth constantly.”

Regardless of the outcome of the championship chase, DeCarlo said he and Currin were not going to let racing come between their friendship.

“When I got into racing and quit helping him with his car like I was two seasons ago, we made it set that we were not going to let this come between us,” DeCarlo said. “We’re not going to let a race win, or a trophy come between our relationship. I know he wasn’t going to let it happen, and I wasn’t going to let it happen. That didn’t mean that we weren’t going to race each other hard.”

TOUGH COMPETITION

DeCarlo pointed out while the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division is designed to be a fun, affordable division to compete in, the competition is tough.

“You race in this division for the fun of it, but the racing is very competitive,” DeCarlo noted. “I think in qualifying for the last race there was only three tenths of a second between first place and ninth place. That is how competitive the division has gotten. If you are off one or two tenths of a second you are not going to be near the front.

“The racing in the division is getting better,” DeCarlo continued. “If Kevin (Currin) would have had one more start he would be here instead of me. Dillon Davis (third place in points) missed one race. Kendall Milam (fourth place in points) missed one race. Stephen Layne had an axle to break the next-to-last night which threw him out of it. Everybody races hard. It’s a competitive division.”

DeCarlo says he plans to return next season to compete in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division.

“We can afford to race in the Hornets Division with the sponsorship we have, and with the time I and everybody else has to work on the car,” DeCarlo said.