Jeremy Doss entered the 2018 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series season with one goal in mind: winning his first series championship. After taking a rollercoaster ride through the nine-race SRL schedule, Doss accomplished his goal and etched his name into the history books as an SRL champion.
Prior to this past season, Doss had experienced success with the series as the 2013 Rookie-of-the-Year and a two-time championship runner-up; however, he had struggled to seal the deal and become a champion.
In 2018, the Upper Lake, California driver was finally able to capture the crown that had eluded him in prior seasons. The journey was full of ups and downs but the result of the rollercoaster journey was a $10,000 victory at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) and an accomplishment he had looked forward to for six years.
During the 2018 season, Doss scored a career-high three SRL victories and eight top-five finishes in his nine-race championship effort. The culmination of the season was his $10,000 victory in the “Retro Custom Metals 150 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse San Dimas” at The Bullring. It was the end of what Doss claims to be his best season to date.
“When I look back on the 2018 season, I can honestly say it’s been the best season of my career,” Doss told Speed51.com. “Having an SRL championship on my resume is pretty awesome. It’s something I will cherish forever. I really hope we can come up with enough funding to defend our championship next season. I’m just really looking forward to the Winter Showdown right now. I can’t wait.”
Doss’ dream season was not all roses; in fact, he started the year with a 22nd-place result in the non-points counting Winter Showdown. After regrouping for the first points-counting event, he got his championship drive on-track early at a venue at which he had struggled at early on in his career.
Doss managed a last-lap pass in traffic to steal the win away from four-time SRL champion Derek Thorn at Madera Speedway (CA) and opened the championship season in style. It was an improbable victory for the then 21 year-old and gave him confidence moving forward.
“It was super cool to get that last lap pass of Derek (Thorn) and get the year started off that way,” Doss explained. “I felt like the car was terrible that weekend, and we had fallen way back in the field. But we were able to fight our way back though. To pick off a win, when I felt my car was not that good, really meant a lot to me.”
The high, after the opening round victory, was short-lived however, as Doss was met with ignition troubles and a 21st-place finish at Kern County Raceway (CA). Fortunately for Doss, fellow championship contender Eric Schmidt finished 26th with motor issues in what ended up being mirror seasons for the eventual top-two competitors in points.
“I remember thinking, man it’s going to be really, really tough to get back up there in the points,” Doss recalled. “I think we finished 21st and we were way back in points. I was thinking it was going to take all season to get back up there. We just kept going at it and didn’t give up. It’s funny that both Schmidt and I DNF’d that one, and we ended up one-two in the points.”
The next event at Doss’ favorite track catapulted him right back into championship contention, when he took home $10,000 in the “Retro Custom Metals 150” at The Bulling at LVMS. The win moved him to second in the standings behind Rookie-of-the-Year competitor Buddy Shepherd. It also gave the team confidence with a third of the 2018 season in the books.
“That win was definitely a confidence booster,” Doss described. “At that point we had won two of the first three SRL races. It felt really good that we had a shot to win at every race, and we were consistently fast. It felt good to win, but it also showed that we had a never give up attitude.”
A third-place finish at the next event at Irwindale Speedway (CA) boomeranged Doss to the championship lead over 2017 Rookie-of-the Year Ricky Schlick. Heading into race five, also at Irwindale, Doss had established momentum and was on a roll. But the roller coaster ride went into a freefall at the beginning of the first practice session. Doss crashed his car on a dirty track, and the team loaded up the car, seemingly ending Doss’ championship hopes.
“I was honestly devastated after that accident,” Doss lamented. “The track was really dirty, but the laps I did get to make the car was really good. I didn’t think that would ever happen. I was devastated and we weren’t sure whether we were going to be able to get the car fixed. We actually loaded up the car and were going to call it a weekend. I saw the championship going down the drain right there. Luckily, I’ve got the best crew around and we were able to get the car fixed, and get a second-place finish at the end of the weekend.”
Doss would go on to rattle off three additional top-four efforts at the New Stockton 99 Speedway (CA), Madera Speedway and Kern County Raceway. During that stretch, Doss established himself as the driver to beat in the championship, but like a true competitor, he lamented what could have been.
“I honestly feel that a few of those races, we kind of let them get away from us,” Doss stated. “I felt like at Madera, where Schmidt and I made contact and had to go to the back, it kind of cost us the race. I guess we could make excuses for not winning during that stretch, but I was pretty confident knowing we had a pretty fast car each and every race. Consistency is what it takes to win championships, but it was still a little nerve wracking knowing that Schmidt was right there in the points at that point.”
Going into the final race of the season, Doss felt good about his chances. It didn’t hurt that the Upper Lake, CA driver had five wins in his last six Super Late Model races at The Bullring. It also didn’t hurt that a ninth-place finish would clinch the championship. But with 32 cars appearing at the final event, Doss knew it wouldn’t be easy. He knew anything could happen and planned his strategy accordingly.
“It was a little nerve wracking, but I was confident at the same time,” Doss explained. “A couple of years before that we broke on lap one, and a few years before that we got caught up in an early crash, so you just never know. I kind of changed my strategy in that race because everyone had caught on to our strategy from the last couple of races there. I just wanted to get out to the front and stay out front to stay out of trouble. Even if I used my stuff up, I could still probably stay in the top-five and win the championship.”
At the end of the day, Doss’ strategy paid off and he scored a victory in both the race and the championship. In doing so, he became the youngest champion in series history, just one day short of his 22nd birthday. He also matched Jacob Gomes as the only two drivers to win the Rookie-of-the-Year Award and become the series champion.
It was the biggest night of Doss’ racing career and has garnered attention from across the country.
“Winning the SRL finale and the championship on the same night was pretty special. Being crowned the SRL champion is the highlight of my career so far,” he said. “It’s pretty cool that Mark Martin even congratulated me. He took an interest in my racing career at the beginning of the year and he’s been keeping up with my season, so that’s really cool.”
Doss continued, “I hope this championship cements my spot, as not only one of the top racers on the west coast, but in the nation. I wish it would lead to a greater opportunity at a higher level, but unfortunately talent and achievements can only get you so far in this sport. We just don’t have the funding to take the next step. I just hope we can find the funding to defend our championship next season.”
Overall, Doss had a great 2018 season. He won the season opener of the Budweiser Crown Series at Evergreen Speedway (WA), the Montana 200 at Montana Raceway Park (MT) and the Senator’s Cup at “The Bullring.” Doss finished in the top-five at the Summer Showdown at Evergreen Speedway (WA) and finished off his season with an 11th-place run at the 51st Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) after overcoming multiple obstacles.
To have the success that the JD Motorsports Team has achieved, it takes a great team and group of sponsors to support the effort. Jeremy is thankful to all of them for helping with his achievements.
“I would really like to thank my parents as well as Earnest Performance, Senneker Performance, Peters Racing Engines, S&S Sports Enterprises, Franks Radios, Swift Springs, PFC Bakes, Speedy Signs and Pit Stop USA. Also, thank you to all my fans for all the support, not just this season, but my whole career.”
Doss’ next event will be at the 2019 Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway. It was the location of his worst finish of the 2018 season. Doss hopes the rollercoaster will start at the top this time, and that he will bring home the $30,000 winner’s check to help fund a possible SRL title defense.
-Story by: Kevin Peters, Speed51.com Southwest Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com