After returning to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series full-time last season, Jason Hathaway back up front as you’d expect each week, scoring a pair of race victories and nine top-10’s en route to placing fourth in the standings.
As he and Ed Hakonson Racing prepare for the upcoming 2020 season, Hathaway shared his thoughts from EHR’s program, to the series and more, entering the year.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts entering the season?
JASON HATHAWAY: Pretty excited, excited to get back going. Got a busy little off-season with signing Brett Taylor for a full season, and signing myself for a full season with Kubota, Choko, and Fast Eddie back, and then signing Connor James just recently – Friday – for a three race deal. It’s been busy; we have two and a half teams out of EHR this year.
ASHLEY: What are your goals for this year?
JASON: Beat my teammates. For me, win races truthfully. It’s not really about championships and I’m not focusing on championships thinking that’s life or death, but rather, it’s about winning races. If I can win a couple more races like I did last year and have the momentum like we closed out the year, I would classify it as a successful season.
ASHLEY: You brought Brett Taylor on-board last season. What are your thoughts on his progression?
JASON: It’s been great. Brett- we’ve been kind of talking since he got into racing way back when he was with Scott Steckly. He would always call and ask questions and I always gave him time as a new guy in the series, and a new racer from out west. It was good actually to see him – he had to beat me, but at least he won. It’s good for our shop, good for EHR.
I think if you hook up with the right people and have the right equipment and the right team as it takes the whole package, I think it shows that there’s people in the series that can win races that haven’t won races yet especially with the talent level that we have in the Pinty’s Series. The talent level is much higher than people think it is.
ASHLEY: Oh absolutely, as you’ve got yourself, Dumoulin, Lacorix, Ranger, Tagliani, Kennington….
JASON: It’s a tough competition. I mean, it is also in the other series, too. There’s top teams in the late model series – APC Pro Lates, Martime Pro Stock Tour – I’ve raced with them and had a chance to meet a lot of those guys, great touring series. So there’s good competition everywhere. It’s just who has a chance to run in the NASCAR series with road courses, and ovals, and now dirt races, so it’s a pretty good mix.
ASHLEY: So what track are you most looking forward to?
JASON: I always like CTMP, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. It’s fun, challenging. Jukasa – it’s been good for me since it came back. You know, what, honestly? All of them have some special part to them. If you nail me down for one, I couldn’t do it as they all have their own uniqueness. I mean, I’d even say St. Eustache as I’ve ran there since 2000 and finally last year was able to win – and then they closed the doors.
So I mean, they’re all fun. We’re going back to ICAR this year – I haven’t been there in a few years, never been on the short track as they changed the configuration since I was there last. I’ve only ran two dirt races in my life, so that’ll be something that we have to get back into. It’ll be fun, interesting. You’ll always be learning this summer and if you’re not learning, you should probably stay home.
ASHLEY: What are your thoughts as you reflect back on last year?
JASON: I would say the competition level was up from a few years ago when I ran, and I only say that because back then, (Kevin) Lacroix was just coming in, just starting, and not a really good oval racer; now he’s got both sides figured out. Steckly has three good teams, top-notch; (D.J.) Kennington, (Andrew) Ranger, they’re always good and you know they are. (L.P.) Dumoulin – not just a road racer, two-time champion.
So there’s no more advantages like there used to be for oval racers or guys known as oval racers and not road racers. But it’s good. I like it. I enjoy racing the people that I race against and essentially, a lot of grew up together over the last 10, 12 years. So it’s been fun.
ASHLEY: You just recently signed Connor James as you mentioned. What are your thoughts on him joining the team?
JASON: It was actually someone that I thought of that wasn’t racing with us that needed to be. I actually reached out to him, truthfully. I just felt that talking to a few people that I know and respect that he was a nice guy, good family, can drive a racecar, can promote himself, so it’s someone that I reached out to see if they had any interest.
So I guess you could say that I started the conversation and we ended it together. it was good. So we’re doing three races, hopefully we can do a few more; they’re looking for sponsors, and see if we can maybe help him out with any sponsorship that we find.
ASHLEY: What would be one piece of advice you’d give to someone just getting started?
JASON: Spend your money in the right places. You only have so much of it. If you are going to team up or start your own team, find people that you can trust and ask for their opinion and follow that road. There’s certain people that you can talk to and look them in the eye and believe what they say, and they’re some you can’t.
For me, from my side, I enjoy working with Brett and seeing the progression, finishing second at Saskatoon in the second race with us; his best finish was seventh or eighth before that. To join our team and get up on the podium was cool and then to have him win a race for us was really cool. It was a good way to end the year for both of us one-two, and kind of running away with it in the second half of the race.
It was good, and I don’t know if I’m outspoken in racing or people ask my opinion, but I’ll give them my thoughts, doesn’t matter what series – rather NASCAR, Sunset Speedway, or Maritime Pro Stock – I’ve worked with them and talked about some rules and ideas that I had to maybe help them and vise versa. I just want to see racers do better, I want to see series grow, and racing go in the right direction.
Honestly, in the Pinty’s Series, we need new blood. I’m not going to do it forever. D.J. Kennington is not going to do it forever. So we need some new blood, like Pete Shepherd who was with us and now he’s moved on to the APC stuff. We got to get some guys like that to stay, and to get sponsorship, and get with a good team, and grow the series.