Saturday’s ARCA/CRA Super Series activities saw a familiar name on top of the speed charts all day in both practice and qualifying. 2016 race winner Travis Braden put his car on the pole for Sunday’s Winchester 400 with a 15.188 second lap, just moments before hopping in his Pro Late Model and winning the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at the “Fastest Half Mile.”
The Wheeling, West Virginia driver is the only former winner entered in Sunday’s race. It was the site of his first Super Late Model win back in 2013, and later the biggest win of his career when he won the Winchester 400 with late-race heroics. He is looking forward to tomorrow’s event and potentially adding to its history.
“This race is really special and it’s one of the most special races to me because of my personal history here. Coming here for the first time in a Late Model, didn’t even know anything about the place before showing up, we were just coming here for a good time and we won,” Braden told Speed51.com. “It’s always been a great, true short track racing atmosphere from top to bottom. For me it’s special to come to a marquee event every year a favorite. It’s fun and it’s heartbreaking when you don’t win when it’s like this and we have a good car. This time around we have a great shot at it and I just hope it all goes smoothly.”
Despite the prime track position to start the 400-lap marathon, Braden’s strategy remains the same for the crown jewel.
“The pole typically doesn’t have to mean a lot to you, but it’s nice to start up there and stay away from any early anticipation the guys have,” he said. “In all reality, if we’re struggling a little bit we’re just going to fall back and ride, we’ve got to keep the nuts and bolts on it for 400 laps and try to keep our head together and keep the tires on the thing. There’s just so many parts that play into it.”
Braden will have World Stock Car Festival winner Stephen Nasse next to him on the front row after the Pinellas Park, Florida driver timed in second in qualifying. Nasse admitted there is a potential issue going into Sunday’s race, but he is ready to get the monkey off his back and claim his first Winchester 400 win.
“I feel pretty good about it, we’ve got a little of a miss in the motor, but I think it’s just a carburetor,” he said. “The car has got speed, hopefully it’s consistent. I’ve been here a long time trying to win this race, so I think it’s time to get it done.”
Reigning ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Josh Brock got his title defense off to a strong start by timing in third, the highest of four drivers competing for the 2019 championship. The Corbin, Kentucky driver finished seventh in last year’s Winchester 400, and while he would like to take home the famed rifle, he has his main goal in mind of becoming back-to-back champion.
“It’s pretty good, top three with as close as the field was,” Brock said. “There were a bunch of 30’s so to be able to crack into the 20’s was pretty important as this race starts straight up compared to what we usually do. It’s very important to start up front, stay out of the mess, and just have good strategy and go win a championship. Maybe if everything goes right we could win the race.”
One surprise deep in the field after the qualifying session was Steve Wallace. The former Snowball Derby champion timed in 16th after a mistake during his run. Despite being marred in the middle of the pack for the start of the race, Wallace is still confident in what his car has during the race as he looks to accomplish the same feat that father Rusty did in 1982.
“The race part of it was really good. I felt really good about it going into qualifying, I just got really loose and had to get out of the throttle to keep the car from spinning out in turn two and that’s what hurt us really bad,” Wallace stated. “Everybody was in the gas there and I wasn’t. We’ve got a really good car tomorrow. During the practice runs I like the way it felt, it was fast, the car was in the track really good, I liked the way it handled. If everything goes like it should tomorrow we’ll definitely have a shot. Four-hundred laps is a long race and starting 16th is better than starting seventeenth.”
Catch all the action from Winchester 400 weekend live on Speed51.com. Purchase your PPV ticket for Sunday’s Winchester 400 and see who will take home the rifle live here: speed51.com/winchester400
Winchester 400 Qualifying Results
|3||17||Josh Brock #C||15.298|
|5||20||Jack Dossey III #C||15.306|
|11||35||Greg Van Alst #C||15.375|
|14||41||Hunter Jack #C||15.470|
|22||47||Dakota Stroup||NO TIME|
|23||5T||Rick Turner||NO TIME|
|24||7||Zach Stacy||NO TIME|
|25||12||Dan Leeck||NO TIME|
|26||23C||Mandy Chick||NO TIME|
|27||41J||Tanner Jack||NO TIME|
|28||61||Bob Varney||NO TIME|
|29||69||Chris Flemming||NO TIME|
|30||83||Jaren Crabtree||NO TIME|
|31||88||Trever McCoy||NO TIME|
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com