Special to The Standard
One day prior to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series season finale, Uxbridge resident Jason Hathaway announced that the 2016 Kawartha 250 would be his final NPS race as a full time competitor. Two days later, he and his No. 3 Chevrolet were sitting in the Kawartha Speedway Winner’s Circle.
Hathaway, who has made every series start since its inception in 2007, cited work and family responsibilities for his decision.
“It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of time, a lot of late nights at the shop, to make a race team work,” explained Hathaway. “I’ve been doing this a long time, it’s time for something new.”
With 121 race starts to his credit, Hathaway struggles to choose a favourite moment.
“Our first win at Kawartha was big, we finally realized that we could win. We’ve had our ups and downs as a team. We’ve won a bunch of races at a lot of different tracks. We’ve won on a road courses, and even (four-time series champion, Scott) Steckly didn’t do that!”
Coming off of a 2015 season, when Hathaway finished in second spot overall, a mere four points behind champion Steckly, and was voted as the series’ Most Popular Driver, the 2016 campaign has proven to be a disappointment for the No. 3 Team 3 Red/ Ed Hakonson Racing Chevrolet team. A third place result at the Riverside (Nova Scotia) oval and a top five result at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park led up to the season finale at Kawartha Speedway.
“I’ve haven’t been nearly as ‘hands-on’ as I’ve been in the past, I’ve been on the road quite a bit for work. I think that has been reflected in some of our results,” noted Hathaway.
Whatever the issues the Stouffville-based team has endured this year, all problems were forgotten when Hathaway guided his No. 3 Raybestos/ Choko Motorsports/ Fast Eddie Racewear Chevy into the winner’s circle, in his final race.
Starting from seventh place on the grid, Hathaway led 157 of 250 laps, including the last 75, and accepted the checkered flag for the ninth time in his career, finishing 5.062 seconds in front of the new series champion, 16-year-old Cayden Lapcevich.
Despite this dream finish to the year, the decision has been made and the No. 3 Chevrolet will only see limited action in the future.
Said team manager Jamie Hakonson, “We’re not getting out of racing, we’re not going anywhere. We may run a couple of Pinty’s races, and we’ll probably do some late model stuff. The good thing about this decision is that we’re keeping all of our team guys together, they’ll be with us whatever we end up doing.”
She concluded, “We’ve been in the racing scene for a long time. It’s a very emotional decision, stepping aside. But that’s the call, it’s done.”