Salem, IN – Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS officials have announced the first group of entries that have arrived for the upcoming CRA SpeedFest 2017, which will be held on Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, January 29 at Crisp Motorsports Park – Home of the Watermelon Capital Speedway located in Cordele, Georgia. As is tradition, this event is held the weekend prior to the Super Bowl every year.
CRA SpeedFest 2017 will once again consist of a 200 lap ARCA/CRA Super Series Super Late Model special non-points event and a 125 lap JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Model special non-points event.
The 200-lap ARCA/CRA Super Series event will be an eight tire max event and will count yellow flag laps up to lap 175. The 125 lap JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour event will be a four tire only event and will count yellow flag laps up to lap 100. In addition, SpeedFest 2017 will also feature a 20-lap Legend feature and a 15-lap Bandolero feature.
NASCAR racer Erik Jones tops the early list of entries for CRA SpeedFest 2017. Jones will compete in the 200-lap Super Late Model event for KBR Motorsports, the same team he won the Battle at Berlin 251 in June and at Lucas Oil Raceway in July. Jones was the 2011 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour inaugural Champion. Jones’s accomplishments since that 2011 season have been astounding. After victories in the ARCA Racing Series, Jones moved to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports and was crowned that series 2015 Champion. Also in 2015, Jones won his third straight Winchester 400 and in so doing became the first ever to claim the JEGS/CRA $100,000 Super Late Model Triple Crown by also wining the Redbud 300 and Battle at Berlin 251 that season. Jones raced full-time with the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016 for Joe Gibbs Racing, where he won four races and finished fourth in final series Driver points. In 2017 Jones will move up to race in the newly named Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, in a second car for Furniture Row Racing, as a teammate to Martin Truex, with sponsorship from Five Hour Energy.
Also entered is NASCAR Legend Sterling Marlin, who will compete in the Pro Late Model event. The two time Daytona 500 winner captured 10 wins with 216 top 10’s and 11 pole awards during his NASCAR Cup Series career. Marlin is a regular competitor at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in their Pro Late Model Division and has competed in the last three Master of the Pro’s 144 events at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, getting a third place finish in that event in 2015.
16 year old Harrison Burton, son of former NASCAR great and current NBC TV analyst Jeff Burton, is entered for the Super Late Model event. The North Carolina teenager competed full-time with the NASCAR K & N Pro Series East in 2016, finishing seventh in series points and won two Super Late Model events at New Smyrna Speedway during Speed Weeks last February. Burton was on this year’s 11-member NASCAR Next class, an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight the best and brightest rising young stars in racing. Burton came from his 24th starting position in last years SpeedFest event to finish a close second to winner Bubba Pollard.
Sixteen-year-old Christian Eckes has filed an entry for the Super Late Model event. Eckes burst on the seen at the end of the 2016 season, first winning the Late Model Stock Myrtle Beach 400, then dominated the Super Late Model Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Speedway, but his biggest win came at the rain-delayed Snowball Derby. Eckes and John Hunter Nemechek put on a show during the final laps of the Derby that fans won’t forget for a long time. The teenage drivers swapped the inside lane and the lead four times during the final two laps before Eckes nipped Nemechek at the line by 0.017 seconds to get the biggest win to date in his racing career. Eckes finished sixth in last year’s SpeedFest event.
Indiana native Cole Williams is entered for the Pro Late Model event. Williams has seen a lot of success in a Pro Late Model, starting with winning the 2013 Lebanon I-44 Speedway Late Model Championship, then claimed the Late Model Championship at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in 2014, finished second in 2015 at Nashville and came back and claimed the Nashville Championship again in 2016 with an amazing five victories.
Florida native Steve Dorer is entered for the Super Late Model event, Dorer has multiple CRA wins in his career including a victory in the 2011 Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Indiana. Dorer also has Super Late Model wins in his home state of Florida.
The father and son team of Jay and Tate Fogelman are both entered for the Super Late Model event. This will be the Fogleman’s SpeedFest and ARCA/CRA Super Series debuts. Jay is former competitor in the Pro Cup Series were he scored 10 wins between 1997 and 2008, while also racing in 19 NASCAR Xfinity Series events. Jay was the 2013 PASS South Series Champion and has nine total wins with PASS. His son Tate was the 2015 PASS South Series Champion, he scored his first PASS South win this past season. The 16 year old also competed in eight CARS Tour Events in 2016 getting two top five finishes.
The state of Georgia is already well represented in the early event entries led by 14-year-old Jasper native Chandler Smith, who is entered to do double duty in both the Super Late and Pro Late races. Other Georgia drivers entered for the Pro Late Model event include Flowery Branch native Dalton Grindle, Cumming native Kevin Herbert and Dacula native Christopher Tullis. Alabama has two veteran racers entered for the Pro Late Model event, Justin South and Bobby Knox Jr. Hunter Byrd from Tennessee and Kent Crane from Missouri are also both entered for the Pro Late Model event.
Additional entries for both events are expected to continue to arrive over the next month leading up to the event. CRA would like to remind any driver not entered yet that the advance entry deadline for CRA SpeedFest 2017 is January 14th, after that date teams will have to pay an additional $50 late fee to enter.
Track and CRA SpeedFest 2017 information, including purchasing advance tickets, can be found at www.crispmotorsportspark.com.
All information on CRA, including rules, license forms and the entry forms for both CRA SpeedFest 2017 events, can be found at www.cra-racing.com.
-CRA Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman