INDIANAPOLIS – Jason McDougal has been named the driver of the Robert Dalby Motorsports No. 4 for the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series season-opening Winter Dirt Games XII at Florida’s Bubba Raceway Park, Feb. 5-6.
McDougal from Broken Arrow, Okla., is a two-time winner with the series in 2019 at Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway and Indiana’s Tri-State Speedway and, as recently as last year, divided his time between racing a USAC National Midget and serving as the crew chief for Kevin Thomas Jr. on the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series trail.
Dalby made 18 starts himself as a driver with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series last year and is the 2019 USAC Western States Midget champion. However, he’ll now serve as both team owner and crew chief for McDougal at Ocala.
It’s a unique opportunity and dynamic for both McDougal and Dalby, two young guns who share a common thread as being involved on both ends of the driver-crew chief relationship in the sport.
They’ve both turned the wrenches for another driver and also competed behind the wheel themselves recently.
“I think it’s going to work out pretty well,” McDougal said. “We’ve seen it from both aspects on both sides of the wall. I’ve never really been around him that much, but we hung out for a little bit last night and got to know each a little more, and I think we have a pretty good chemistry so far. I think it’ll be a pretty easy weekend.
“We’re going to go out and have some fun, do some racing and be good.”
Dalby sees the situation similarly from his vantage point behind the pit wall and plans on also having McDougal behind the wheel of his No. 4 when the series travels to Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway for the two-night T-Town Midget Showdown on April 9-10.
“It’s super exciting,” Dalby said. “He’s a hell of a race car driver and smart behind the wheel. He knows what’s right and wrong and he knows it from both sides. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s calm as am I down to the core. It’s easy to work with somebody that, when things go wrong, they can work through it and try to make it better.
“He’s a calm, chill guy and really good behind the wheel of a race car.”
A recent California transplant who now makes his home in central Indiana, Dalby also revealed that he plans take a step back from the driving side and embrace the role of crew chief and team owner this season.
Dalby estimated he will drive his own car in around 10 USAC events this year, at some of his favorite venues, including Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex, Nebraska’s Jefferson County Speedway and California’s Merced Speedway.
However, Dalby revealed his long-term plan is coming to fruition after turning the wrenches for driver Cannon McIntosh during last December’s open midget event at North Carolina’s Millbridge Speedway, saying “It’s what I want to do right now.”
“It takes 100 percent to work on them and it takes 100 percent to drive them,” Dalby explained. “It was only me, so it was hard to do. So, I kind of stepped back and thought about it, and asked myself, ‘Do I enjoy driving them more or do I enjoy working on them more?’ I really enjoy it from the team owner aspect, working in the shop, working with sponsors and that kind of stuff, rather than trying to drive them and work on them at the same time.”
Dalby will field a car at every USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget event this season, although it will present a change of pace for him not being in the driver’s seat and starting off with McDougal wheeling in the first four events of the season.
“We’re going to work with Jason down in Florida and see how that goes, then go from there to Port City and down the road,” Dalby said. “Whichever races I don’t really have a driver for, if I don’t end up finding a driver, I’ll run it myself. If I can get the right driver in the car, then I’ll end up just working on it and crew chiefing it.”
McDougal and Dalby will get their USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget season underway in the series openers on Feb. 5-6 at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
A dedicated practice night will precede the festivities on Feb. 4.