As we continue our tribute to our former champions, we now reach one of the most dominant seasons in Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series history. In 2005, all the pieces of the puzzle came together for Jason Fensler, when he set the record for victories in a season with seven. He also claimed nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 12 starts. He had five Fast Time Awards and led 484 laps during the season, winning a record $18,600. It was a record that stood until 2009, when M.K. Kanke became the first $20,000 winner.

The 2005 season found the series averaging 22.7 cars per event, with 47 different drivers participating. Jeremy Wood was the series Rookie-of-the-Year with Fensler the Qualifying Champion.

For Fensler, the 2005 dream season was made possible because of several factors. He tributes the success to not only a dedicated team owner, but an understanding Crew Chief and devoted crew.

“There are several key components and people that contributed to such a successful season”, Fensler told the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. “The biggest contributor to such a great 2005 season was car owner Allen Beebe. Allen had a desire for the sport, and for supplying the team with all the resources to be able to prepare great race cars. Crew Chief Ty Joiner understanding what I was looking for from a chassis perspective, led to rolling out of the truck at every track with a car that had the ability to win, each and every time. Everyone on the crew was a piece of the puzzle. So short answer, it’s all about the people you surround yourself with.”

In a season that saw him win at four of the five facilities on the SRL Tour, there were sure to be some memorable moments during the season. He came home victorious at Altamont Motorsports Park three times, The New Stockton 99 Speedway twice, Madera Speedway once and Shasta Speedway once. But it was at a facility at which he went winless, that produced Fensler’s most memorable moment of 2005. It was also his only finish outside the top-10, where he finished 15th.

“Wow, we had so many (memorable moments), but the one that sticks out to me, might not be one that anyone else would see as a memorable moment. It was the third race of the year at Mesa Marin. We unloaded and we’re quick right out of the gate. We blew an engine qualifying. The entire team never gave up changing the engine, and literally finished as cars were lining up on the track. We started shotgun on the field. Ty (Joiner) and the team took the adversity in stride, and the car was quick. We drove through the field and took the lead, only to get a RF (Right Front) flat, with about 20-25 to go. The reason that race in particular was the most memorable, is because through the adversity, the team never gave up and they showed, as a team, the commitment to winning a championship.

Fensler has had success in a variety of different cars, even before his SRL Championship. He took home Modified titles at Mesa Marin Raceway in 1993, Altamont Motorsports Park in 1997 and at Stockton 99 Speedway in 1998. He participated in the Shell Tri-Track Challenge Series in 1999 and 2000, finishing third and then second in the standings. The later despite missing an event, while scoring a series high four victories. He scored five wins in those two seasons, in the series for “Tour” type cars. The series was a precursor to the SRL, participating at Altamont, Madera and Stockton.

Post-SRL Championship, he scored three victories in the Westcar Late Model Series, as well as two wins in the ARCA Menards Series West, formerly the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Division. But Fensler has always had a love for the Tour / Super Late Model Division.

“The Tour-type cars are just a blast to drive”, Fensler stated. “The torque and horsepower make the cars a lot of fun. The challenge of maintaining and keeping the tires under you, for the entirety of the race, make the driver that paces themselves the best, rise to the top. These Tour-type cars with the horsepower and torque they have, make them easy to burn up the tires and brakes. You have to race smart.”

After several years of being absent behind the wheel, Fensler is interested in climbing back into the driver’s seat again. He would love to participate in a Super Late Model again, and relishes the opportunity to compete in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series.

“Absolutely”, Fensler exclaimed! “I’ve actually been looking to see if there are any opportunities. The series has grown a lot recently, and it would be great to run one again. The competition, and what Larry (Collins) and Brian (Olsen) have done with the series, is great to see. Who knows, maybe I can get something together soon, and get back out there.”

If there was one track on the 2020 series schedule, that Fensler would call his favorite, the LVMS Bullring and Dirt Track at LVMS would fit the bill. Although he only has three touring series starts there, he has scored top-five finishes in both the SRL, as a teammate to Derek Thorn, and the ARCA Menards Pro Series West. It would make a great place to make a return.

“Las Vegas”, Fensler declared! “I have always enjoyed running over there. I’ve run there in a Super Late, Tour Car, and West car. Las Vegas, to me, is a driver’s racetrack, and always puts on a good show.”

If Fensler can return to the SRL this season, he will undoubtedly put on a good show. He would be a welcome addition to the series champions currently competing full-time in the series.

The next scheduled event, for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, is the $10,000-to-win “Spears Manufacturing 100 presented by Traffic Management, Inc.” at Irwindale Speedway on April 25th.

Photo Credit: The Photographer from the early years of the SRL, David Misco.