As Super Late Model heavyweights from both coasts prepare to converge on Bakersfield, California’s Kern County Raceway for the inaugural $25,000-to-win Winter Showdown, one West Coast representative is readying himself for his pursuit of a second marquee short track victory to add to his resume.
Erie, CO’s Chris Eggleston vaulted to the top of the Super Late Model landscape with his victory of Pro All Stars Series-sanctioned ‘The Race’ at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2011. The $75,000-to-win event saw Eggleston topple more than 70 competitors to establish himself as a driver to watch, competing with the lauded SS Green Light Racing team.
Since then, Eggleston has left the powerhouse outfit and has spent time concentrating on his own Chris Eggleston Racing program, led by Car Owner Kevin Stienke.
“North Wilkesboro was huge for me,” reminisces Eggleston. “The car count that the race attracted – and the $75,000 pay day it offered – are something people still talk about to this day. It was a career moment for me”
“I think this weekend will have a similar feel to it,” continues the former K&N Pro Series West winner. “The atmosphere leading up to the event is pretty similar. I think [SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series General Manager] Larry Collins has done a lot to create some huge hype for this race”
Although the race itself may feel similar, Eggleston is the first to admit that the preparation heading into the weekend is far different with his family-run effort than it was with the larger-scale SS Green Light Racing.
“We’re just a Mom-and-Pop team,” smiles Eggleston. “We operate out of my small shop in Colorado. There’s no big name Crew Chief here, so we’re giving up a little bit when it comes to intel entering a big race like this. But it just means we’ll have to sweat a little more and bust our butts to compete against some of the best teams from across the country”
The Winter Showdown will mark Eggleston’s second appearance of the 2015 season. The team competed in Tucson Speedway’s ‘Chilly Willy 100’ on February 7th where Eggleston racked up a ninth-place finish in a field stacked with perennially strong contenders from across the Southwest.
Unfortunately for Eggleston, the threat of winter storms back home in Colorado forced the team to leave their hauler – along with their lone chassis – in Tucson.
“We were set to fly back to Colorado the next day and were worried about the hauler passing through the winter storms in the mountains on the way home,” explains Eggleston. “So, we put in a 12-hour day right after the Chilly Willy 100 to remount the nose, weld in the front bumper bar and fix the air box after taking some damage the night before”
Despite the relatively short preparation time, it is clear Eggleston is ecstatic to take part in what could be the biggest Super Late Model event on the West Coast in 2015.
“I’m pumped to get down there. I’ve heard some great things about Kern County Raceway. I’ve never been there and I’ve been so swamped working on our new shocks and springs packages that I haven’t even had a chance to pull up a YouTube video yet.
“This event is going to be huge,” continues the personable competitor. “The West Coast doesn’t see many big money races – this is the biggest Super Late Model race I’ve ever heard of on this side of the country. To come away with a win with our family-run team would mean the world to us.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about making the race,” admits Eggleston. “We’re going to need to have a good qualifying effort with no follow-up problems to lock ourselves in. I look forward to supporting the event, and hope that Larry [Collins] and the SRL Tour can put together a few more races like these”
Eggleston’s schedule won’t be any easier at the conclusion of the 250-lap event, as he will compete fulltime with the K&N Pro Series West, driving for longtime outfit Bill McAnally Racing.
“This race could be huge for our momentum heading into 2015. We won the first race I ran for BMR at Colorado [National Speedway] last season. I’m stoked to build on that, and couldn’t think of a better way to kick it all off than with a strong run at Kern County.”
-By Spencer Lewis, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @itsspencerlewis
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com