2002 Season in Review
Nick and the JSI Motorsports Team had high hopes going into the 2002 season after such a great year in 2001, finishing fourth in the final Southwest Series Point Standings on just a $75,000 budget. While the team ran great in 2001, Nick felt his efforts were spread too thin by having two cars to maintain and felt that they could improve their on track performance by maintaining just one car. While this was a risk as it left the team with no back up car, the decision showed great results at the start of the season.
With a short track car, they managed to make the race on time for the first time at Phoenix, however, Nick was caught up in a first lap accident that spoiled the run. The second race at El Cajon had a difficult qualifying situation as half the field had qualified before a rain shower. Hours later, qualifying resumed with none of the cars, including Nick making the race on time that qualified after the rain. Nick however started at the rear on the tight 3/8 mile track and managed a strong top 10 finish. It was the third race that the improvement began to show. At Mesa Marin, they started second and easily led the first 57 laps before a flat tire forced a green flag pit stop costing them four laps and a sure victory. The following race, the team again earned the second starting spot at Stockton and maintained that position for the first 56 laps before another flat tire forced yet another green flag stop and again costing the team laps on the track.
Bad luck continued to follow the team to Pikes Peak where Nick ran in the second position for much of the race and was the only car capable of keeping up with eventual race winner Eddie McKean, however a pit stop miscue cost the team two laps. The team moved on to Irwindale and tested the week prior to the race. On race day at Irwindale, Nick posted the 2nd quickest laps in both practice sessions, however when the qualifying set of tires were put on the car, the handling changed dramatically and was only able to post the 23rd quickest lap due to the car being extremely loose. The cars were impounded after qualifying, preventing the team from making changes to improve the car before the race. Nick manhandled a very loose race car for the entire race, however had still managed to move into the top 10 with ten laps to go. That's when the bad luck continued and the plan to maintain just one car, no longer seemed like a good idea. A car in front of Nick got into the wall, as Nick went low to pass, the other car bounced off the wall and caught Nick's right rear quarter panel, sending the car sideways to t-bone the pit exit wall and destroyed the car.
By this point in the season, Nicks budget had been depleted and without a car, Nick feared the season was over for him. Gail Chase loaned Nick his car for the following race at Sears Point, where Nick suffered through a long race with cracked ribs from the race at Irwindale. With no practice laps, Nick qualified 31st, and had moved into the top 20 within 14 laps when a flat tire cost the team a lap in the pits. Nick raced his way back onto the lead lap and into the top 10. Nick's ribs however were causing him alot of pain with 25 laps to go, forcing him to drive one handed on the tricky 11 turn road course. Nick fell back to 14th with three laps to go, however managed to pass five cars over the final three laps to post a 9th place finish.
The team attempted to run the following race at Mesa Marin in a 15 year old car, however they just could not get the car up to speed with so little time to prepare the car. Nick was forced to use a provisional and was caught up in a lap four accident. With no cars left, Nick had no choice but to miss the next several races. In September, Jackson Race Cars called Nick and they worked out a plan to run some Super Late Model Races. They performed very well, posting a 5th place finish in a 75 lap race at Irwindale. A 3rd place finish in the 200 lap open comp race at Mesa Marin and a 6th place finish in the open comp 200 lap race at Irwindale. That race however was spoiled by a flat tire. Nick had charged from his 9th starting position to 3rd in just 15 laps into the race, running much faster than the leaders when the tire went flat. Nick restarted in 26th and charged through the field to finish 6th.
Nick ran Eddie McKean's short track car at the final Southwest Series event. With the car not set up for this type of track and still having a muffler on the car, starving the motor for horsepower, Nick did not fare well in qualifying, forcing him to use a provisional and start 40th. Nick however managed to move into the top 10 in that race before a vibration forced a green flag pit stop.
Looking back, 2002 was not the season Nick and envisioned at the start of the year. Bad luck and lack of funding made it very difficult to compete at a top level. The seasons final results were not due to lack of effort by any means as the team showed their determination by coming back and running strong every time they were on the track. Nick would personally like to thank Jackson Race Cars for putting awesome race cars under him that were capable of running up front at every race. Ed Hansen for building great engines. Never once did we have a problem with the engine, it ran flawlessly. Nick would also like to personally thank each and every crew member for their dedicated hard work all year long. Thank you: Dave Jackson, Tony Jackson, Mandy Jackson, Matt Jackson, Mike Medlin, David Christenson, John Christenson, Paul Sain, Dave Whitsen, Scott Bernell, Stu, Robby and Buck. Nick would also like to thank Gail Chase, Dexter Tuttle, Dave, Tony and Mandy Jackson and Eddie McKean for the use of their cars during the season.
As of now, Nicks plans are unclear for 2003, however he has obtained some sponsorship money and hopes to team up with another team to compete in 2003.
DATE TRACK ST FIN LAPS Notes 2-2-02 Phoenix 29th 20th 96/100 Accident Lap 1 3-23-02 El Cajon 20th 10th 125/125 --- 4-6-02 Mesa Marin 2nd 13th 121/125 Flat tire while leading, lap 57. 4-27-02 Stockton 2nd 12th 124/125 Flat Tire, lap 56. 5-19-02 Pikes Peak 27th 30th 98/100 Lost 2 laps in the pits 6-8-02 Irwindale 23rd 24th 140/150 Accident while in 10th 6-22-02 Sears Point 31st 9th 64/64 Cracked ribs, 15th with 2 to go 6-29-02 Mesa Marin 30th 30th 4/150 Accident, Lap 4 7-20-02 Altamont --- --- --- Did not enter 7-27-02 Madera --- --- --- Did not enter 8-17-02 Colorado --- --- --- Did not enter 9-14-02 Irwindale 11th 5th 75/75 --- 10-19-02 Mesa Marin 10th 3rd 200/200 --- 10-26-02 Irwindale 9th 6th 200/200 Flat tire lap 70 while in 3rd 11-6-02 Phoenix 40th 29th 120/125 Vibration