Sides near the top of Outlaws series

Posted: April 21, 2017 at 1 a.m.

As the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series’ long, hot summer approaches, Jason Sides just wants to keep the snowball rolling.

Entering tonight’s event at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis, Sides is enjoying one of most successful stretches of his 15-year Outlaws career.

“There are good times and bad times in this business,” said Sides, of Bartlett, Tenn. “When it goes bad, you get down on yourself and that can make things worse. Then again, when it’s good, you feel great and can’t wait to get to the track. You have to ride out the bad and look forward to the good.”

The past month has definitely been part of “the good” for Sides. After picking up only one top-10 finish in the first 11 races of the Outlaws season, Sides has been on a tear of late. Starting with a ninth-place finish at Placerville, Calif., on March 29, he has posted seven consecutive top-10s, including a fourth at Somerton, Ariz., on April 7 and a fifth at Queen Creek, Ariz., the following night.

“We started out the year pretty bad,” he said. “We had some bad luck, got caught up in some things. But it’s been much better lately. We had some better luck, but we’re also running better. And if you qualify well, you get to start farther up front and you have a better chance to stay out of harm’s way.”

Sides, 44, cut his teeth racing Riverside, a quarter-mile gumbo oval that has perhaps spawned the careers of more top Outlaws than any other track in the nation, including past series champions Sammy Swindell and Bobby Davis Jr. Sides said some of his earliest memories are from the track fans and racers in the region refer to as “The Ditch.”

“I was probably 3 or 4 years old the first time I saw The Ditch, going to watch the races with my parents,” he said. “They’ve apparently cut some of the banking out of the track in the last year or so. But I’m also told the track has been nice and sticky, with pretty wide racing grooves.”

Sides has 15 career Outlaws victories, the most recent coming almost a year ago at Little Rock’s I-30 Speedway on April 26.

“Yeah, we get close to home lately and we’ve ran really well,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get another good run, get another boost to our confidence and head down the road to the rest of the year feeling pretty good about ourselves.”

World of Outlaws

WHAT World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series

WHERE Riverside International Speedway, West Memphis

WHEN Tonight. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Hot laps at 6:30 p.m. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m.

TICKETS Adult grandstand seats are $35 for reserved and general admission. For children aged 14 and under, reserved seats are $20 and general admission is free. Pit passes are $45.