With 2017 just days away, many racing fans in the Pacific Northwest are eagerly awaiting the return of one of their favorite drivers after a longer than anticipated offseason.


Washington short track legend Garrett Evans had planned to wrap the 2016 season in December with a return to the Snowball Derby, but was forced to wait another year to make his return to Pensacola due to a scheduled back surgery.


The news for Evans has been positive as he continues to get back to 100%. He is using the time when he is not exercising in the race shop, preparing his blue No. 64 for its first outing of the year.


Evans will make his return behind the wheel during the Chilly Willy at Tucson Speedway (AZ) on February 4 before moving on to take on the best in the country in the $30,000-to-win SRL Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA)


“I’m feeling better now, walking around trying to get back in shape, a little stretching and some exercise. We’re just trying to get both cars ready. We’ll also be going down the week before for the Chilly Willy, hopefully that’ll get us ready for the Showdown. I think it’ll help to get back in shape,” Evans told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.


While the Winter Showdown’s lucrative purse is a major incentive, Evans is looking forward to escaping the cold grip of his native Washington for the two weeks. Evans along with other veteran drivers like Greg Pursley have been high on the Showdown’s appeal to attract talent from all over the country, providing an all-star atmosphere that has not been felt in western Late Model racing since the final Copper World Classic at Phoenix Int’l Raceway in 2006.


“It’s just fun to get out of here and go someplace a little warmer. The Winter Showdown is probably one of the better races we run all year on the West Coast,” Evans explained. “It’ll be good to be a part of it to see what we can do. We used to go to the Copper World Classic down in Phoenix, to me this kind of takes over what it once was.”


In his lone Winter Showdown appearance this past February, Evans had a rough outing, qualifying at the tail of field only to crash out halfway through. But the team was able to turn the folly around, shaking down the troubles they had experienced to get the speed back for four wins over this past season and his third straight championship in the Northwest Super Late Model Series.


Before going in for surgery, Evans put in test time after the NWSLMS season finale at Yakima Speedway to take forward into the winter. He hopes that test time, along with running the Chilly Willy, will give him the edge he lacked at Kern last time out.


“We weren’t very good last year, but we got the car good the rest of the season when we got back home. We did a bunch of tests after the season was over and got it even better. Looking forward to it.”


-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com

Evans Gearing Up for Big Races After Offseason Back Surgery