Brandon Oakley surprised some Super Late Model fans and peers on Saturday afternoon by coming away with the pole for Sunday afternoon’s 45th Annual Winchester 400. The Beaver Creek, Ohio driver was only one one-thousandth of a second quicker to claim the honors.
“It’s huge for our program and huge for me,” the 22-year-old told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s just something I wanted to do for a while. The people that we just out-qualified speaks huge volumes in its own. I can’t thank all my guys enough for all the work that they do to be able to come here and do something like that.”
The driver that came closest during the qualifying session on the ½-mile high banks was William Byron. Despite coming up only a tick short, the Charlotte, North Carolina driver was still satisfied and optimistic heading into the green flag tomorrow.
“We wanted to get the pole for sure, but we have a good race run car so hopefully that translates and we have a good race tomorrow,” the 18-year-old rising talent said.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contender likened Winchester in some ways to a track on that circuit.
“It’s a little like Bristol,” Byron commented. “Bristol qualifying is really tense. This place drives a lot similar to that, but it has more character. Compared to both ends of the race track at Bristol this is totally different. It’s a lot more fun here and we’re just trying to get a good solid race in tomorrow.”
Garrett Jones has been fast all weekend and was the first to go out to qualify. The 17-year-old held the top spot during much of the session, but will start third on Sunday and remained all smiles.
“It’s probably the happiest I’ve been so far,” Jones mentioned. “I’m really happy that we’re qualifying good and running good again. We have 400 laps tomorrow so it’s going to be a lot about surviving and being there at the end.”
With four past starts in the Winchester 400, Oakley agreed with the sentiments of Jones in regard to race strategy when going for the prestigious win.
“The whole goal is to stay out of trouble for 300 laps and be in a position that you even have a chance,” Oakley explained. “If you don’t do that then no matter how fast you are you’re not going to have a shot to do it.”
A battle within the race will also take place. Cody Coughlin gained five points with his fourth best qualifying effort, but still sitting only 18 back is Dalton Armstrong in the ARCA/CRA Super Series championship standings. Armstrong will line up sixth, with Harrison Burton in between the two championship contenders in his second Winchester 400 start.
The Winchester 400 on the high-banks of the legendary race track will take center-stage on Sunday, October 9th. Fans who tune-in to the Speed51 TV live PPV broadcast will be able to see all the pomp & circumstance of pre-race ceremonies plus the demanding Winchester 400 for the ARCA / CRA Super Series. $24.99 will be the price to catch all the action.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Central NY & PA Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Winchester 400 Qualifying Results
Pos # Driver Fast Lap
1 51 Brandon Oakley 15.209
2 9 William Byron 15.210
3 88 Garrett Jones 15.237
4 1 Cody Coughlin 15.281
5 12B Harrison Burton 15.306
6 4 Dalton Armstrong 15.308
7 51B Christopher Bell 15.342
8 2 Donnie Wilson 15.345
9 99 Raphael Lessard 15.346
10 55 Dalton Sargeant 15.422
11 22 Trevor Noles 15.450
12 51N Stephen Nasse 15.473
13 5 Noah Gragson 15.496
14 23 Eddie Van Meter 15.502
15 26 Travis Braden 15.502
16 98 Mason Mingus 15.503
17 H2 Bret Holmes 15.508
18 41 Hunter Jack 15.558
19 19 Jeff Fultz 15.604
20 7 Wes Griffith Jr. 15.670
21 131 Johnny Belott 16.052
22 20 Jack Dossey III 16.148
23 123 Billy Van Meter 16.383
24 91 Rich Segvich 17.290
25 95 Derrick Griffin No Time