Defending Wayne Carter Classic winner Ricky Baker is returning to Grundy County Speedway (IL) this weekend to defend his title and turf.


The Illinois native won the prestigious 100-lap ARCA Midwest Tour sanctioned event last year at the 1/3-mile oval he calls home.


Baker will have a chance to become the first driver in over a decade to win the Classic back-to-back. Baker’s name would appear twice on a long list of talent that includes short track legends like Dick Trickle and Joe Shear.


“This race is a pretty big deal,” Baker said.  “If you look back at the history of it, the winner’s list, there’s just a lot of great race car drivers, some that came out of this area.”


Despite already having won the event just a year prior, there’s a lot of uncertainty for Baker coming into Saturday.  Baker was dealt a wild card several weeks ago when his machine was destroyed in an incident at Rockford Speedway (IL).


“I have mixed feelings [about this weekend], honestly,” Baker said.  “The car was completely totaled at Rockford, but a couple of sponsors came together to help get a new one built.”


Race day will be the first time this particular No. 52 has seen the track, but Baker isn’t too concerned about starting from scratch.


“I’m never really happy with a car, unless we’re in victory lane,” Baker said.  “So it won’t really be any different.”


As for Baker’s plan for the race itself— well, there isn’t one.


“You don’t really go into these races with a plan,” Baker said.  “Just try to keep the tires under you and don’t overdrive the car.”


Plan or no plan, Baker’s results at Grundy speak for themselves.


“We’ve have pretty good luck with the extended races,” Baker said.  “I think I’ve won like six or seven 30-plus lap races at the track.  I just hope we can keep it going.”


Spectator gates at Grundy County Speedway open at 4:30 p.m. CT, with qualifying beginning at 5 p.m. CT and feature racing at 7 p.m. CT.


Race fans who can’t attend Grundy County Speedway for the Wayne Carter Classic can watch the event live on’s Summer Thunder TV presented by PFC Brakes.


Summer Thunder TV is free for Speed51 Video Network premium subscribers.  If you’re not already a member, signing up is easy.  Click here to join now.


The 2018 schedule for Summer Thunder TV contains over 50 live races and it is growing nearly every day. The full schedule for Summer Thunder TV can be found here.


-Melissa Strahley, Gulf Coast Editor

-Photo credit:

Ricky Baker Hoping to Defend Grundy County From Invaders