After returning to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series full-time in 2019, Jason Hathaway stormed back into racing in his No. 3 Kubota/Choko/Premier Bulk Systems/Kugel Chevrolet. Finding a rhythm in the second half of the season, Hathaway claimed two wins, his first since 2016, welcomed a new teammate, Brett Taylor and a new son, Maxson. With the 2020 season almost underway, what does the 43-year-old from St. Thomas, Ontario think about going back racing in his home province?
Let’s recap your 2019 season a bit. It was your first season back since 2017, you scored two wins; at Riverside and St-Eustache, along with six top-fives, and nine top-tens. You almost got a third win at Jukasa but your teammate Brett Taylor gave you the bump in the final turn. I’d say that’s pretty good for a series return, don’t you agree?
Ya, it was a good year, definitely a positive year. When you kind of leave a series for a couple years and come back, you’re really not sure if you still have it or not, but I think I proved to everybody that we still do. As a team, as a driver, and even our ownership crew. But there’s lots of competition, I know some guys built some new cars over the winter. If you win a few races, everyone is gonna come after you so you’re only on top for so long in this series.
For 2020 we will be going back to Sunset and Jukasa but we’re also going to Flamboro Speedway. You have proven success at the first two tracks but we didn’t see any record of you ever racing at Flamboro. Have you raced there before? Have you even tested there?
Yea I raced a Thundercar there in I think 1999. It was the end of the year special, I think we won the dash for cash or something. Then J.R. Fitzpatrick dragged me back there in 2009 for another Thundercar race. So I’ve got two Thundercar races under my belt there, led a few laps there. I wouldn’t say I have a lot of experience there but I’ve been around there a few times.
We tested there 2 weeks ago and it went well. It’s a fun track, it’s unique, it’s different and it’s been around a long time, they’ve done a great job there throughout the years with the weekly program. I have a few friends that race there week in and week out. I’m already sending text messages asking for a few tips on how to get around that race track.
You came second at Sunset back in 2015 and second at Jukasa last September. Which track do you think you’ll have the best chance at winning at?
All three! Probably Jukasa, I would say. We run really well there and we won the big short track national there when it first opened, the big grand opening there in a late model. Every time we go there we’re good, the cars are good. I like the race track, it’s fun, it’s big, there’s lots of room to race and you can run side by side. Yea if I could pick one of the three that we’re racing at this year I would say Jukasa is the one to pencil us in for a checkered flag.
So I haven’t really talked to you since Motorama back in March, before everything with COVID-19 set in. So how have you been doing, what was quarantine like for you with the kids, including your newborn Maxson?
It’s been fun, we’ve had a house full here during the quarantine and they’ve had a lot of fun. We have a bit of property outside so they can get out and play a little bit, riding around the Kubotas side by side with us. It’s lots of family time. We’ve always had racing in our lives every year, it’s been a little different not going to the race track and seeing people. Kind of makes you realize what you’ve done your whole life, being at the race track, then suddenly not at the track. Sometimes when the schedule gets going through the summer, going across Canada you wish you could sit by the pool for a weekend.
You mentioned you have a lot of property and one thing you guys have been doing on the EHR social channels is promoting your Victory Garden. You guys have been growing produce this summer and donating it to North House which provides housing support to people in North Durham. You even had some team 3 members come and give you guys a hand. Tell us a bit more about it.
Well, all the kids did the planting, I’m really good at the watering, I’m not good at the rest of it. Grandma donated the garden to let us help out. I planned the garden close to the pool and close to the race shop, that was my strategy. The kids like it and the guys jumped in and helped out on shop night on Tuesday.
It’s been fun, Kubota does a great job with that. We’re just trying to get people to focus on something else other than COVID and what’s going on in the news in the world. It’s been something different for sure.