Friday, February 1, 2013

Eilen named 2012 MN Asphalt driver of the year

By Jason D Searcy

In June of 2010 after a bad wreck at Hawkeye Downs it was suggested to Jonathan Eilen that he might want to consider giving up racing cars and do something different, like basketball.  A perfectly reasonable thought considering he was lying in a hospital bed with a broken L3 vertebra in his lower back and four broken ribs.

Eilen did not give up on his chosen sport, as a matter of fact, that suggestion made him more determined than ever to push forward, do the physical therapy and come back better than ever.

Jonathan Eilen from Hampton (MN) has been named the Speed Talk on 1360 2012 Minnesota Asphalt driver of the year.  He is the first MN driver to win the ASA Midwest tour Championship since Dan Fredrickson won in 2008.  Eilen scored a win and seven "top 5" finishes during the 12 race Super Late Model touring schedule. 

In June of 2012, two years after his big wreck, Eilen felt like things were falling in place for him, "After having a good run and finishing fourth at the Milwaukee Mile, it kind of opened my eyes that this might be our year" said Eilen.  The roll continued at Marshfield, Jonathan swapped the lead with Travis Sauter and Skyler Holtzhausen the entire race until Skyler had problems just 18 laps before the checkered flag fell, giving the lead back to Eilen who then scored the win.  "In past years it seemed like things would go bad or we would have a parts failure," said Eilen "but this year it didn't happen, it was like we had someone watching over us," Jonathan's brother and crew member Jake passed away in a automobile accident in 2008.

2012 was the first year working with crew chief Chad Wood, "It seemed to click this year with Chad, right away from Madison all the way through Oktoberfest," said Eilen who won the ASA Midwest tour championship by 17 pts over Nathan Haseleu.

Eilen then had the opportunity to test drive an ARCA car down in Daytona in December, "It was really cool, something to check off the bucket list," says Eilen "the first couple laps were nerve-wracking, holding it wide open and not knowing if it was going to stick, but after a while it felt like driving down the interstate."

The Midwest tour is now sanctioned by ARCA and Eilen plans on attempting to defend his title with a little different focus, "in 2012 we played it conservative at quite a few races," said Eilen "this year I'd like to come to the track and go for wins."

The first ARCA Midwest tour race of the 2013 season will be Saturday April 20th in Toledo Ohio, also the exact due date for his baby after getting married last summer. 

2012 was a dream season for Jonathan Eilen and his race team, a season that would've never happened if he had taken the perfectly reasonable suggestion two years prior, "I'm glad I didn't walk away from it," said a race car driver who has little time for basketball.

Previous winners of the MN Asphalt driver of the year:
2004 Dan Fredrickson
2009 Adam Royle
2010 Brent Kane
2011 Chad Walen

Speed Talk on 1360 is a Motorsports radio show that can be hear Saturdays 10-11am April through September on KRWC 1360am radio in Buffalo MN.

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