It's been a solid rookie season for young Dayton Pursley at Lucas Oil Speedway. The 16-year-old from Hermitage, Mo., is ninth in the talent-rich Out-Pace USRA B-Mod division and, just as important, has brought his car home in one piece each week.
"I'm top 10 in points and I'm proud of that," Pursley said. "I figured I wouldn't be anywhere close to the top 10 with all that competition we have. To this point, I'm ecstatic."
But ask Pursley the highlight to his season and he answers without hesitation.
"My dad winning last week," he said. "I'd rather see him win than myself. He and (car owner) Tom Campbell work so hard."
Jason Pursley won last Saturday's Pitts Homes USRA Modified feature for his first trip to Lucas Oil Speedway victory lane since 2013. Dayton joined him there in a special father-son moment—just like six years ago when Dayton was 10.
"Everything kind of played into our hands Saturday and we finally picked one up," Jason Pursley said. "We hadn't won one there since 2013. I'm not sure if that's perseverance or insanity, one or the other. But we finally got it done.
"It's a good lesson for everybody, I guess, and my boy who was there watching. Don't give up. Keep trying and keep working harder and good things can happen."
The 2019 has been another good one for Jason Pursley, who's second in points just 27 behind Robbie Reed entering Saturday's Rempfer Memorial Season Championship presented by Bill Roberts Chevrolet-Buick and KOLR/KRBK. In addition to the feature win, Pursley has five top-five finishes and 10 top tens in 12 starts.
But the chance to have his son alongside in a driver's role has made it even more special. The Pursleys pit together and help each other, both with blue-and-white paint schemes on their cars. Having Dayton in the pits is nothing new, as he's helped Jason since he was barely able to walk, but having him competing on the track has been fulfilling for both.
"He raced just a couple of times at the end of last year, but this is his first full season," Jason Pursley said. "He's doing really well and I'm real proud of him. He missed the first couple of features at the first of the season, but since then he's made every feature.
"It's a big learning curve for him," Jason Pursley added. "Lucas has the toughest B-Mods in the country and there's also a ton of them. Competing against them will make him better in the long run."
Dayton, a junior at Skyline-Urbana R-1 High School where his dad is the elementary-school principal, said he closely watches veteran B-Mod drivers like Kris Jackson to absorb the different lines they drive. But he said his dad is his biggest racing influence by a mile.
"He has helped with everything I know about racing, from getting into the car to the set-up," Dayton Pursley said. "He's taught me everything I could have expected. From when I was born, I knew I wanted to race. My whole family was into racing and I got a go-kart when I was three and raced that a couple of years. Then I helped my dad on his car."
Jason Pursley said his son has to put in the necessary work to race, doing almost all of his own work on the car during the week and is required to fix any body damage that occurs.
"The only things I do, if there's a motor issue or transmission problems or safety stuff," Jason Pursley said. "The rest is up to him."
Added Dayton: "He always tells me if I tear it up, I fix it. So I try not to do that too much."
Dayton Pursley is still looking for his first top-five feature finish, but he's had some highlights including a heat-race win earlier in the season that put him on the pole for the feature. He's shown enough speed to run near the front for periods of main events.
"You can see him on the track, adjusting to the conditions or adjusting to the car," Jason Pursley said. "That's one of the major hurdles. You have to be able to adjust. If he messes up one lap, you'll see him adjust and not make the same mistake the next lap.
"He's been respectful and hasn't caused any crashed. He seems to be doing it the right way. I like the way he's learning and adjusting. That's important when you're just starting out."
Both Pursleys look to close out the Big RV Weekly Racing Series season with strong runs on Saturday when season champions are crowned. Jason's win last week put him in position to possibly overtake Reed, but a lot would have to go his way at Reed's expense.
"I don't really want that to happen because Robbie would have to have back luck," Jason Pursley said. "I don't want anybody to have bad luck. We'll probably finish second in points, like we normally do, and go on."
Dayton Pursley joined his dad in victory lane last Saturday after Jason Pursley's Pitts Homes USRA Modified feature win.
eanwhile, Dayton Pursley looks forward to a couple of more B-Mod events at the track this fall. He hopes to use that to experiment with some ideas on car set-ups to see if they might benefit him next season.
It won't happen for a while, but Dayton said he sometimes thinks about someday being alongside his dad on the track and not just in the pits.
"I make jokes about me beating him or him beating me," Dayton said with a laugh. "I think it would be cool, sometime in the future, for me and him to race side by side."
Gates open at 4 p.m. Saturday with hot laps at 6:30 and opening ceremonies at 7. It's also Public Safety Appreciation Night with all Police, Fire and Rescue personnel admitted free with ID.
Fans also can purchase suite tickets for $25 this week. That price does not include food and drinks.
Meanwhile, fans also have a chance to experience what it's like to make laps around the track with the return of the raffle for a ride inside the Lucas Oil 2-Seater Late Model. Raffle tickets will be sold with the winning ticket drawn just prior to intermission for a five-lap ride. Tickets will be sold for $2 each, six for $10 or 12 for $20. Fans must be 18 years of age or older to participate and sign a waiver form.
Also on the midway on Saturday will be the "Mizzou to You" display from the Missouri University Office of Extension and Engagement. With a goal of showcasing research, learning, resources and services that touch lives, inspires innovation and solves problems in Hickory County and across Missouri, there will be more than 20 booths offering demos and services about Mizzou.
Adults (16 and over) $12
Seniors (62 and over) $9
Youth (6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Suite tickets $25 (does not include food or drinks)
Fire, Police and Rescue personnel with ID admitted FREE
Family Pass $30
Pit pass $30
For questions about tickets or camping for any event at Lucas Oil Speedway, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com.