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Jay Blair's Road to a Championship

Jay Blair is accustomed to winning. He’s won on Karts and he’s won in Modifieds and now he’s a winner in Late Models but he’ll be the first to admit that it’s been a lot tougher to win with the Late Models. “We really expected to do better sooner than what we have in Late Models but we didn’t realize how tough it was until we got started. There’s just so much more to learn and the competition is much tougher.” That’s why Blair relishes winning the 2000 O’Reilly SUPR Championship.

Blair has been winning races for over 10 years now. He was a winner in Go-Karts, winning 3 Mississippi/Alabama State Championships and finishing third in the Dirt Track World Championships held annually in Daytona in just his third year racing Karts. He then tackled the IMCA Modified ranks and claimed the track championship at Pike County Speedway in his first full season at the wheel of a full-sized car. His second year in the IMCA Modified ranks was even more successful as he claimed the 1997 IMCA Clausen Racing Gulf Coast Region Championship. Along the way, Blair notched several open show victories to stake his claim as one of the hottest young drivers in the region.

Blair then focused his attention on the Late Model ranks, competing for the 1998 SUPR Rookie of the Year title in his first year behind the wheel of a Late Model. Blair was able to claim the Rookie title and he recorded his first SUPR victory at his home track Pike County along the way. Blair returned to the SUPR tour in 1999 with an eye on the championship. While Blair fell short of his goal, he recorded his second feature victory with the series en route to a fourth place finish in the newly dubbed O’Reilly SUPR Late Model Series Championship.

Blair entered the 2000 season with high expectations but early on he encountered difficulties in his car’s setup. A disappointing 21st place finish in the season opening Mardi Gras Nationals at Baton Rouge Raceway was followed by a moderate improvement at Pike County the following week where he finished 8th. The bottom dropped out the following week as Blair failed to qualify for the feature at Thunder Valley Speedway. A change was needed. That change came in the form of a chassis change as the All-Star Graphics Racing Team brought out the GRT that propelled Blair to the Rookie title in 1998.

This was just the change Blair needed. From that point on, Blair recorded 1 win and 11 out of 13 top ten finishes by July 1st and in doing so, he grabbed the lead in the O’Reilly SUPR Point Standings. Blair’s performance during the second half the season only got stronger as he reeled off 5 top 5 finishes in as many races and 10 top 10 finishes in a row. His most impressive performance was at Pike County Speedway on August 12th as he rallied from 21st to win at Pike County and claim the 2000 Magnolia State Championship. He was equally strong at Lone Star Speedway as he appeared to be on his way to recording the victory in the Armadillo Nationals until a late race caution allowed Ricky Ingalls to move back by on the outside to take the win. Blair returned to Lone Star to record yet another runner-up finish, this time to Jeff Chanler in the Texas State Championships.

The championship battle had become a rout. Blair’s consistency was no match for his fellow competitors, at least not this year. As for next year, Blair plans to return to defend his title. Will Blair be the first O’Reilly SUPR Champion ever to defend his title? Well he has all the tools needed to accomplish the feat. He still has his trusty GRT and he has a new one on the way come April. He has one of the best engine programs in place with local drag racer Larry Warner maintaining his Boyd Racing Engines motor. He has a great crew and a solid set of supporters, from long-time crew chief Brad Jones to crew members Jason Creel, Jason Page and Matt Hillhouse when available, from All-Star Graphics to Creel Brothers, and from Nature Gardens to Parish Disposal.

Blair credits his crew for preparing and maintaining his car. “When we got back to the shop we had the car washed Monday and put in and Sunday Larry was over there and he’d go through the engine and make sure there was nothing wrong and before we left every bolt and nut on the car had been gone over before we left. So we knew that there wouldn’t be a problem with the car.”

But despite his strong performance in 2000, Blair is a bit frustrated that he didn’t win more races. “It was kind of frustrating a little bit to be running so good every week and not be able to win more than we did but when you stop and look back at how the season went it still was good because nobody won over three races and only one person won that many.” Still, Blair feels he’s ready to repeat. “We going to try to win the championship again and hopefully be able to win a few more races.” We’ve got a new car ordered so we’ll have two cars and sometimes a little more equipment as our sponsors help a little more.”

One thing that excites Blair about the 2001 season is the possibility of running more open shows without the handicap of competing against open motored cars without a spoiler or weight break. “We’re really excited about that, we are going to try to run all the open races we can when we’re off from SUPR. Right now we’re planning on running the Ice Bowl and maybe that next week at Columbus. We’re going to go out and try to run every weekend that we can somewhere.”

Blair, like many other dirt drivers was spotted at Five Flags Speedway for the late winter classic, the Snowball Derby so it was only natural to get his feelings for racing the on asphalt. “I’ve always wanted to run in the Snowball but I don’t have any plans for it right now.” Blair shares that he has always aspired to run asphalt with an eye on moving up the ranks to Winston Cup but his dirt racing experience has helped to change his point-of-view. “Once we got into dirt racing, I’ll be happy if we can make a career running dirt. If the opportunity comes up to run asphalt, I’d love to do it but if not I wouldn’t be disappointed running UDTRA.” Blair sums up his racing ambitions as such. “We want to be the best at what we’re doing, if that leads to something else then that would be great.”

For further information regarding the 2000 O’Reilly SUPR Series contact Greg Holmes at 225-275-5040 or e-mail us at gholmes@suprracing.com.
 

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