Brandon Watson’s dominance in Canada has been unrivaled since going back to racing in the country full-time a few years ago. He has a win percentage of nearly 50% in the APC United Late Model Series since the start of 2017, with 14 wins in 29 starts and a championship to go with it. With racing season in his native Ontario having been completed, he is preparing to make his third trip south of the border this year to compete in the prestigious Winchester 400.
The Stayner, Ontario native is scheduled to pull double-duty this weekend during the Champion Racing Association (CRA) season finale. Watson has competed at Winchester four times during his full-time runs in the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, and his team has been looking forward to making the trip back to the Indiana half-mile ever since.
“We’ve been there a few times, it’s a fun track for us,” Watson told Speed51.com. “It’s a big-name race, big event that we always try to get to. It’ll probably only be our second time entering the Winchester 400 but we’ve raced a few times at Winchester and had a lot of fun there, it’s an awesome facility.”
Watson is also entered in Friday night’s JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race, where he has finished second during the inaugural season for the series. Having spent recent years mostly competing in a Pro Late Model with the APC United Late Model Series and winning a championship in the process, Watson is confident going into Friday night’s finale.
“There’s just a few different technical rules that will need to be adjusted but it’ll be close to the same for us,” he said. “There’s obviously a bit more competition, there’s always a bunch of good cars from Ontario. It’ll be a little bit different but still the same kind of scenario. We’ll just try to do the best we can, we’ve been doing pretty good with our Pro up in Ontario so we’ll see what we got when we bring it down and give it a shot in the JEGS series.”
Watson’s first Winchester 400 attempt was short-lived after a wreck took him out in the first quarter of the race. The main goal for his team is to make it to the end of the race, and he says it all starts with qualifying.
“We got into a little trouble at the start, so that’s definitely a big thing,” he said. “It’s a long race so I’ll definitely be trying to keep the car clean to stay in the race that long. We had a little trouble in qualifying so maybe getting a better qualifying spot. We just got collected up last time and we were mid-pack, toward the back so that kind of hurt us. I don’t remember how many laps we got in but it was under a hundred. We’re going to try to do better than that this year and try to keep the car clean and be there at the end.”
While some things may have changed since Watson last competed in the Winchester 400, some things will always remain the same. It is one of the biggest, most demanding races in short track racing, and he says there is nothing like it.
“It’ll be all the top drivers there for sure. It’s a late in the year race and there’s not anything left here for us to do, so we’re trying to get there,” he remarked. “It’s a long race, it’s definitely going to be the longest one I’ve run if we can get to 400 laps. It’s definitely a different scene and there’s a lot of people there. It’s not live pit stops there anymore but it’s definitely still a big factor there.”
Race fans unable to make it to Winchester, Indiana this weekend will be able to watch all three days of racing via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Visit www.speed51.com/winchester400 today to order your live video ticket.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51photos.com