After a year that saw Donnie Wilson find championship success in the Deep South, the driver from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma will kickoff his 2017 season by heading to the West Coast for the 3rd Annual SRL Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA). He’ll do so locked and loaded with a new weapon that he hopes will help him capture the $30,000 top prize.
In just two years, the Winter Showdown has quickly grown to become one of the most hotly contested Super Late Model races in the country. The race has brought in some of the top drivers in the land including the defending Southern Super Series champion Wilson.
Wilson proved his medal in two high profile contest in 2016, winning the North-South SLM Challenge at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, TN and the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway. Following a solid top five to end 2016 at Five Flags Speedway (FL) in the Snowball Derby, Wilson and his team have spent January refurbishing their usual equipment, while preparing their new weapon for 2017.
“We’ve been going over the two cars we already have, getting them ready for 2017. We have a new car that we got together for the year, so we’ve got three cars in our stable all ready to go,” Wilson told Speed51.com. “We’re bringing the new one, we’re pretty excited to pull it out of the shop and see how good she is. Kern County is a pretty good place to do it.”
The $30,000-to-win contest will be a tough first task for Wilson and his new machine, being 250 laps around the half-mile against some of the biggest names in the sport. But he is more than up for it in order to achieve a positive result compared to their first Showdown appearance at Kern in 2016.
“It’s a real tough field with Erik Jones and Kyle Busch coming back, Derek Thorn being at his home track, Bubba Pollard is tough there and where ever he goes, we know that. We went out there last year and didn’t do very good, found some things when we came home and figured out what was wrong,” Wilson explained. “We’re eager to redeem ourselves from a bad showing last year because we know what we are capable of. We’re just hoping for a good run, see where we stack up. Our main deal is a top five every race to get you a chance to win.”
Though last year’s race might have left a mark on the season scorecard, it did not weaken Wilson’s strong impression on the track itself.
“It’s an awesome facility, really awesome, it’s beautiful, one of the best I’ve been to. I was really impressed when we went out there last year the first time. Top notch.”
While some teams are plugging some fun into the event with money and bragging rights being on the line, Wilson is taking the trip very seriously. Not just because it is what he believes it will take to win against the all-star field, but also to get the team off to a running start for the remainder of the year.
“We’re going to be testing Tuesday. There ain’t no time for fun, it’s a business trip,” Wilson said. “Like every race this year, we’re there to win. That’s our main goal, then we can have fun. Plus, anytime you can start off a season with a great run, it sure helps. I sure don’t want to start off with a poor showing or problems the first time out of the box.”
For those around the country who cannot make it to Kern County Raceway for the third SRL Winter Showdown, you can catch both days of racing action with Speed51’s live video broadcast, with qualifying races being held Friday, February 10 and the main racing events on Saturday, February 11.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman