A sign located in the Winchester Speedway midway states “Through these gates pass the bravest drivers in the world.” The high-banked half mile can make even the most experienced drivers get butterflies in their stomachs when taking to the track.
As former NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion Cayden Lapcevich gets set to make his Winchester 400 debut this weekend, he is no exception to the nerves drivers experience during their first starts at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile”, even through the excitement of competing in a Super Late Model crown jewel for the first time.
“I’m pretty excited about it but kind of nervous at the same time. Winchester’s sort of a different animal, it’s nothing I’ve ever tacked before,” Lapcevich told Speed51. “I’m looking forward to it, I’m up to the task and the challenge.”
The 49th Annual Winchester 400 presented by JEGS marks a big step for he and car owner Bobby Blount, who added a template-bodied Late Model to the stable for last year’s Canadian Short Track Nationals. They have added more template-bodied races to the schedule in 2020 to go along with marquee Outlaw Super Late Model shows, with the highlight of the year being a second-place run in the Gandrud Auto Group 250 in his first ARCA Midwest Tour start.
As Lapcevich continues to get more comfortable in template racing, he faces a tough test Sunday with the Winchester 400.
“I think we’ve progressed pretty well. A lot of it has been learning the Rowdy car because Cody (Glick) and them do things a little differently than we’re used to with the Outlaw car. There’s a lot of learning going into it but having seat time now and having good runs and understanding what the car wants and doesn’t want has been huge. I feel a lot more comfortable in it and working on it, making changes on it. It’s been a big learning curve but I wouldn’t want to tackle it with anybody other than Bob.”
He has recently moved to North Carolina to work for Rowdy Manufacturing, which Lapcevich says has helped him immensely in his own racing endeavors. Even with the newly-found knowledge, he says preparing for the Winchester 400 will come down to the basics.
“I think going to Winchester is a lot about what you do in the shop. Making sure all your bolts are tight, I think it’s the little things that end up winning you that race. I fly back to Indiana tonight and tomorrow I’m going to go over everything and make sure we’re as prepared as we can be.
“We sell a lot of turnkey cars so I’m able to see how the process goes and how we go about it. A lot of what I’ve learned that I’ve been able to apply to my own racing has been when we put a turnkey car on the scales to get ready for setup,” he added. “I’ve learned a lot there and I’ve noticed some things I was doing wrong and I was able to fix on Bob’s car. It’s been a good help.”
With his first Winchester 400 on tap, driver preparation has already started for the grueling marathon. While he admitted he was feeling a little bit nervous going into the weekend, the nerves are not there when it comes to confidence.
“Hopefully we’ll complete all 400 laps and be there at the end. It’s probably going to be the longest race I’ve ever been in. I told my dad this and we kind of laughed, but I’m more worried about myself getting through all 400 laps than anything else. I try to prepare myself the best I can. I think we’ll be up to the task and we’ll be in contention, I feel pretty good about it.”
The Winchester 400 weekend is scheduled for three action-packed days of racing at the “Fastest Half Mile” on October 9-11. More tickets have just been released and are available at winchesterspeedway.com/tickets.
Teams and fans wanting to purchase pit passes early to help expedite their entry to the infield can do so at pitpay.com or download the Pit Pay App wherever you obtain App for your mobile device.
Fans unable to make the trip to Winchester, Indiana will be able to watch all three days of racing via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.TV. For more information and to order your video ticket today, click here.
Be sure to follow Winchester Speedway’s social media channels for the latest updates on upcoming events. “Like” the Winchester Speedway Facebook page, follow @FastestHalfMile on Twitter and Instagram.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51/Ryan Nuttleman