It was a Canadian leading the way in All American 400 practice Friday afternoon at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Nova Scotia’s Cole Butcher set the fastest lap of the day (18.545 seconds) in the first practice session for the Super Late Models, beating out Bubba Pollard and Derek Thorn for the top honor.
The former Maritime Pro Stock Tour champion was scheduled to go off from the front row alongside in last year’s All American 400 before Mother Nature threw a wrench into the plans. Now, he’s back at the historic Nashville oval as part of a three-car effort for Donnie Wilson Motorsports.
“We’re really happy, the guys worked their butts off today,” Butcher said. “We unloaded really good so we’ve been trying some stuff and on our long run we showed some consistent speed. We’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow and get a good night’s rest and race on Sunday.
“We did a semi-mock run early and it was good,” he added. “Tomorrow’s a new day, who knows what the weather’s going to be like here in Nashville. It’s been cold so I don’t know what to expect.”
Mason Mingus was a late addition to the All American 400 entry list earlier this week, replacing Indiana driver Dalton Armstrong in the Richie Wauters Motorsports No. 5. The driver from nearby Brentwood, Tennessee took no time at all to get reacclimated to a Super Late Model, setting fast time in the final session of the day as he gets ready for his first race in 2019.
“We were pretty happy with it in the last two practice sessions. I haven’t been in a car in like a year so I was a little rusty at the beginning,” Mingus said. “We had a couple things to work on the car, but overall I’m happy with it now. I think we’ve got good race run speed, which is what we need for 400 laps. I feel good about it.
“Dalton Armstrong was supposed to run it. I guess he was working on the farm at home and fell and broke his ankle on Thursday,” he continued. “He couldn’t get in the car so Richie called us and with this being a home track and a favorite race of mine, I was happy to do it.”
The newest up-and-comer from the state of Georgia is set to make his debut in a Super Late Model this weekend in the All American 400. 14-year-old Jake Garcia made his presence felt immediately, sitting in the top ten in three of the four sessions, even running as high as second after session three. His pairing with former Snowball Derby winner Ricky Turner has him confident for Sunday’s race.
“It’s a lot of fun, a lot different than a Pro Late Model and what I’m used to. I’m still figuring out a little bit but we got a pretty fast car,” Garcia said. “I’m excited about the All American 400 this weekend. It’s amazing to be up there racing with some of these guys, especially for it being my first time out there in a Super Late Model. Hopefully we’ll have a good run this weekend.
“Ricky’s great help, he’s a Snowball Derby champion,” he added. “He definitely knows how to drive one of these cars and he teaches me a lot. I really feel like we can run up front and contend for the pole. Right now we’ve got a fast car and I believe we can run good.”
Former NASCAR Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was on hand at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville to assist defending World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion Mike Marlar get acclimated into an asphalt Super Late Model, and even hopped in the No. 157 for a few laps to help shake the car down. Marlar is set for his asphalt Super Late Model debut on Sunday.
Wisconsin’s Dalton Zehr’s maiden All American 400 attempt did not start off as planned with a blown engine during practice on Friday night. The 2018 ARCA Midwest Tour champion says his team will work through the night to get the car ready for Saturday’s qualifying.
If you can’t make it to Nashville for the 35th running of the All American 400 this weekend, click here to purchase your pay-per-view video ticket for Sunday’s races.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com