Jason White had a harrowing finish in the Menards Series last month.
In the Automobile Racing Club of America Menards Series in Daytona Beach, Florida on Feb. 18, White went from 29th place out of 40 cars to first.
He stayed in the position for 17 laps before being overtaken in the last lap of the race and ultimately finishing in ninth place.
“[It was the] biggest race of my life and I ended up not winning .. it was another heartbreak,” White said.
When he was in the final lap, White needed to decide whether he should block the cars trying to overtake him. That decision could have led to a crash, hurting himself or others, he said.
“People have died in that corner at Daytona. I thought about it, but at 195 miles an hour the thoughts are quite quick, they’re more reactions. I made the decision to take it on the chin and bring the car home to race another day,” White said.
Despite the outcome, he has a positive outlook on the race and said that leading laps “on the biggest stage in motorsports” was an important, albeit bittersweet, milestone.
“I’ll have a sour taste in my mouth about that last quarter mile for probably the rest of my life,” he told SPIN.
After coming so close to a career-defining moment, White said he took a few minutes to get out of his car and face the cameras.
“I had tears. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with in sports.”
The close outcome at Menards came on the heels of another difficult experience at the NASCAR Truck Series at Daytona. White finished in 21st place on Feb. 17 and said getting to the race was “a struggle” because of a fire in January at his team’s shop, Reaume Brothers Racing in North Carolina.
While his truck wasn’t damaged, the insurance company wouldn’t let them enter the shop, and his team couldn’t take his truck out to race. His team had to find another truck, leased it and got it ready to make the show on Feb. 17.
“The whole three weeks [after the fire] was just panic and a struggle to get there and it just continued once we got to Daytona. So that wasn’t a great showing,” White said.
While White struggled in these past two races, the sport helps him overcome and adapt to challenges that come his way.
“It’s not very often that a shop [catches fire], but things like that happen. You’ve got to overcome and adapt. The highs are so high. But the lows are so low.”
White credits his showing at Menards to recent lifestyle changes he’s made, including reducing his alcohol consumption, changing his diet and moving his body.
“I want to stay ready and focused for the next time, because [as a freelance racecar driver] you never know when the next time is coming,” White said.
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