For someone who habitually squats on the flanks of the frontrow of a rugby scrum to eyeball his opponent, Jason Long is quite accustomed to holding his ground no matter what the outcome.

Not surprisingly, Long takes that mindset to other sporting arenas, such as the high-octane dirt tracks of superstock car racing in speedway, blissfully aware of the you-win-some-lose-some edict.

Consequently the 26-year-old Hawke's Bay Magpies prop is delighted to return from Wellington after claiming the North Island Superstock crown on Saturday.

"It is one of the four big national titles in a year and everyone hopes to do well in them," says Long after his maiden acquisition, although he has claimed bigger spoils including a second place at the nationals in 2016 and bagging the bragging rights to the New Zealand Grand Prix last year.

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"If you win the North Island Champs and the New Zealand Grand Prix then it's something so it's always pretty big," he says, happy to have etched his name on the silverware of two national titles, including the World 240s.

He didn't win any races but his mental fortitude becomes transparent in the way he made the cull of 25 qualifiers last Friday, from a field of about 53, before grinding his way to the front-runners of the grid over three heats.

In the first heat, Long had rivals do a double take when he became the biggest mover from No 24 on the grid to sit sixth.

In the second heat, he started No 11 on the grid to finish second before emulating that feat from No 5 in the third and final heat for the top perch on the podium.

"I didn't win a race all weekend but I was always in front of the field."

The Hastings Rugby & Sports premier club player drove a Nissan, packing a Brian Hartley model V8 engine under the bonnet and mounted on a Rees Racecar chassis.

So do the Magpies' selectors and coaching stable sweat on his availability during the Mitre 10 Championship campaign in winter?

Long counts his blessings the Magpies support him with his involvement in speedway.

"No, I've been pretty lucky in superstock," he says. "We make sure we have the best safety equipment put in so I try to look after myself as much as I can in the racecar."

The purpose-built metal beasts have sturdy roll cages to protect drivers. Superstocks weigh 1400 to 1500kg and are usually powered with modified V8 engines. The smash-and-dash nature of the sport can be rugged and is intended as part of the class.

A former motocross rider from the age of 12, Long followed in the footsteps of his father, Murray Long, of Hastings, a former Hawke's Bay Hawkeye.

"My old man always raced so I did," he says as the pair shared the car. "A few years ago he stepped aside and gave me the car full-time."

In his eighth season of speedway, Long says it's great to have his fellow Hawkeyes teammates stopping to help anyone in distress, especially when it becomes apparent the helpers aren't in a position to get on the podium.

"Everyone in the team is shaping up pretty good," he says, mindful the Hawkeyes will take on the Wellington Wildcats at Meeanee Speedway in Napier this Saturday night.

Frankly, he feels it'll be pretty hard to select a 2019 team of five from 10 contenders for the marquee event in February next year.

"I'm not too worried about Hawkeye selection right now. I'm just worried about going out to do the best I can in my races and if I can do well, as I did last weekend, then, hopefully, it'll mean I'll be selected."

Jason Long shows the class that clinched his maiden North Island Championship superstock crown in Wellington last Saturday. Photo/Stockcar Scene
Jason Long shows the class that clinched his maiden North Island Championship superstock crown in Wellington last Saturday. Photo/Stockcar Scene

Long, who raced for Gisborne last summer, didn't go too well for the Hawkeyes' superstock team when they faced the Wellington Wildcats at Te Marua a fortnight ago.

"They beat us. It was a pretty brutal race," he says of after he, Adam Groome, Zach Lawrence, Quintin Butcher and Maddie Wise found themselves in for a dogfight.

"We led for much of the race but a few of us just had brain fades and didn't use the team tactics like we should have," he says, not expecting to be back in Mike Lachlan's equation for the bedpost-sponsored Christmas Demolition Derby at Meeanee this Saturday.

Lachlan says the team for Saturday will not be confirmed until tomorrow night, after the Hawkes team of Groome, Thomas Stanaway, Randall Tarrant and Mike Mac have competed against the Palmerston North Panthers at Arena Manawatu.

Fans who wish to join radio breakfast show host Adam Green in a car on Saturday are advised to listen to The Hits 89.5FM for the key word to enter online to be in the draw for the derby which starts at 7pm, although the gates will open at 5pm.