Cayden Lapcevich has proven to be a quick study in Template Super Late Model races in 2020, making the occasional appearance in crown jewel events and scoring podium finishes in the Redbud 400 and Gandrud Auto Group 250. The Canadian driver will now lead the field to green in another marquee race, taking the pole for the 49th Winchester 400 presented by JEGS.
Lapcevich circled the famed Winchester Speedway half-mile in 15.493 seconds, taking the top starting spot for Sunday’s main event. It may be Lapcevich’s first trip to the Indiana facility, but he is already a big fan of the venue.
“It’s a different animal,” Lapcevich told Speed51. “It’s got character. It’s fast. It’s high-banked. It’s a racer’s dream race track, I feel. It’s a true, blue race track.
“You’ve got to be up on the wheel. Even if you’re just riding, you’ve got to be careful because this place will come up and bite you.”
While he fully understands the challenge of 400 laps around Winchester ahead of him, Lapcevich has plenty of faith in the car he is taking into battle.
“I think we have a good hot rod underneath us. It’ll take a little bit of work. It’s a long, grueling race. We just have to keep the wheels on it, keep the fenders on it, and we’ll be there at the end.
“I’ve got a couple of changes I want to make. We’ll do that, nut and bolt it real quick, and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be for tomorrow.”
After a sour start to the day, Chandler Smith finished Vore’s Welding and Steel Pole Day as the second-fastest man on the property. Engine issues sidelined the No. 26 Donnie Wilson Motorsports entry Smith brought to Winchester, but Wilson stepped out of his familiar No. 2 to allow Smith to compete.
Smith quickly acclimated to the different car, finishing atop the charts in final practice before qualifying second.
“I want to thank Donnie Wilson, especially,” said Smith. “We had engine failures on the 26, and he was going to run this 2 car. He told me, ‘You’re going to race mine.’ That says a lot about him as a team owner. Big props to him. If we make it happen tomorrow, it’ll be for him.”
Smith has never finished worse than sixth in three Winchester 400 appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2017 and a third-place finish in 2018. However, Smith believes his car for this year might be better than any machine he’s piloted around Winchester.
“These Wilson Motorsports guys gave me a heck of a No. 2 Camry today. We struggled a little bit in qualifying trim, but race runs we are right where we need to be. I’ve raced here quite a few times in the 400, and this is one of the best cars I’ve had. Honestly, that says a lot with the performances we’ve had.”
Two of the last four Winchester 400 winners will also start in the top five. 2016 winner Travis Braden qualified third, while defending race champion Stephen Nasse will roll off fifth.
Sunday’s Winchester 400 will also crown the 2020 ARCA/CRA Super Series champion. 2018 champion Josh Brock was fastest of the four “Championship Chase” contenders during the time trial session, qualifying seventh. Cody Coughlin will start ninth in his bid for another title this weekend after clinching the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title on Friday. Michael Simko starts 10th, while defending champion Greg Van Alst will start 13th.
The 49th Running of the Winchester 400 takes place Sunday, October 11, with pre-race ceremonies starting at Noon ET and a 1 p.m. ET green flag. Fans unable to attend the event can watch live on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
49th Running of the Winchester 400 presented by JEGS Qualifying Results
- Cayden Lapcevich
- Chandler Smith
- Travis Braden
- Carson Hocevar
- Stephen Nasse
- Kyle Crump
- Josh Brock
- Albert Francis
- Cody Coughlin
- Michael Simko
- Brandon Oakley
- Jeff Fultz
- Greg Van Alst
- Dan Leeck
- Jack Dossey, III.
- Kodie Conner
- Dalton Armstrong
- Sammy Smith
- Mason Keller
- Hunter Jack
- Jake Garcia
- Augie Grill
- Bubba Pollard
- Brandon Varney
- Chase Burda
- Dakota Stroup
- Zachary Tinkle
- Jake Hinton