‘Jetpak’ Jak Crawford Wins at Florida Winter Tour

Big win at Florida Winter Tour comes on heels of probable Challenge of the Americas title

'Jetpak' Jak Crawford scored a Florida Winter Tour victory this past weekend in Orlando (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)

‘Jetpak’ Jak Crawford scored a Florida Winter Tour victory this past weekend in Orlando (Photo: Ken Johnson – Studio52.us)

‘Jetpak’ Jak Crawford, the eight-year-old Rotax Micro Max rookie that hails from The Woodlands, Texas, has competed in the entire six race program of the 2014 Florida Winter Tour but had only been out front sparingly. Looking to turn his luck around this past weekend, everything changed and Crawford repeated his West Coast domination that has been shown at the Challenge of the Americas this year where he has commanded four victories in four races.

Taking place at the OrlandoKartCenter in Orlando, Florida, ‘Jetpak’ Jak led all the Rotax Micro Max practice sessions and looked to be the driver to beat. Piloting his Nash Motorsports powered Birel and working with the MRP Motorsport squad, Crawford was fast and ready for wheel-to-wheel competition.  Outpacing all Rotax Micro Max drivers in the official practice session on Friday morning, Crawford was ready for the afternoon qualifying sessions that would set the grid for Saturday and Sunday’s prefinals. Quickly making the most of his opportunities, Crawford rocketed to the pointy end of the field during Sunday’s qualifying effort, immediately taking the top spot and pole position. Back on track later that day for Saturday’s timed session, Crawford found himself mired in pack-action that didn’t contribute to speed, but narrowly missed sweeping the weekend’s pole positions by a scant .043 seconds.

Back to the track on Saturday and ready for the prefinal, Jak quickly found himself with a bad start when the race went green as he fell down the running order to eighth. On lap three he began to work his way forward, with the Texan making a clean pass into fifth in corner five as he looked to leap frog a few drivers. Before Jak could make it out of the same corner, a fellow driver would make an overaggressive inside pass on Jak and use Jak’s kart as a battering ram sending him into the drivers Jak had just overtaken. With a severely bent axle and chassis, Crawford was forced to retire from the prefinal and would start the day’s main event at the tail of the field.

From the last row on the grid and in the race with little pressure on the young driver, Jak would begin Saturday’s feature event with a youthful disposition to heroics. By the end of lap one ‘Jetpak’ Jak had lived up to his name and was officially in tenth. By the end of lap five Jak had already moved into the top-five and would begin to close on the lead group of karts.  Chasing them down all by himself with no draft, Crawford would eventually run out of laps and end his day in fifth. Post race, ‘Jetpak’ Jak would win the GoRotax “Hard Charger of the Race.”

On Sunday things would change for the better for the Birel driver. Jak wouldn’t need to pass as many people as the day before but he was hard charging nonetheless as on this day he would need to make the hard passes at the right time. Rolling off P1 in qualifying, the chassis just would lack grip early in the day and he would end up third after the prefinal, after falling back as far as sixth.

At the start of the main event, Crawford was more determined than ever to top the blocks in the final Florida Winter Tour event of 2014. Drafting with ‘Jetpak’ was another racy Birel driver and they drove away from the field even while swapping positions mid-race on several occasions.  Bumper to bumper, the two would exchange the lead three times on the final circuit and ‘Jetpak’ Jak would roll towards the final combination corners in second place.  In turn thirteen, Crawford’s closest competitor took his normal inside line pinching the corner and defending his line. Carrying his momentum through the corner, Jak would move alongside the leader on the exit of turn fourteen and out drag his competitor to the checkers. It was a close finish with an astounding display of persistence and patience for the young driver who absolutely has the resolve to pull out the big ones.

Following the successful series-ending Florida Winter Tour victory and with one week off from racing action, Jak heads back to the West Coast for the final Challenge of the Americas weekend of competition.  While Jak is in command of the points, the young up and coming driver will undoubtedly continue his winning ways at the tricky circuit in Sonoma, California.

Jak would like to thank his Florida tuner, driving teacher and engine builder Chris Freckleton of Precision Works Racing Engines/Nash Motorsportz for his exceptional skills.  Jak will race in nearly fifty national and regional karting races in 2014. His main 2014 goal is to win the Rotax Grand Nationals in his rookie attempt.  For more information on ‘Jetpak’ Jak, or to place sponsorship or calendar inquiries, please contact Nikki Crawford at nikocraw@gmail.com. Also, be sure to like ‘Jetpak’ Jak Crawford on his new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jetpakjakcrawford.

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