Soon after being named the Promoter of Winchester Speedway, Bob Dillner said to expect some names that would normally not travel to the high-banked half-mile to be at the Winchester 400 in October. One of those drivers announced their intentions to be at the crown jewel while making an appearance on “The Bullring.”
Reigning CARS Super Late Model Tour champion Matt Craig has traveled outside the Mid-Atlantic states more often in the last couple season, and that trend continues with his Winchester 400 debut.
The event is one that has been on his radar for the past couple of years, but he has been unable to make the trip to Indiana for the race due to other conflicts. When the opportunity finally came about to go to Winchester, the decision was made quickly.
“We wanted to do it the last couple years but the schedule and with work, you can’t always get away from work. This year looks like the schedule is going to work out, there’s not a lot of races going on right around the same time,” Craig said. “That’s what’s making the decision easier for us this year.”
Craig adds another new track outside the Mid-Atlantic for the event, something that has become a more common occurrence recently. He visited three major facilities outside the region for the first time in 2019, with those being Bristol Motor Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway and the Milwaukee Mile.
Each race saw him have speed early in the event, but his best finish out of those three races was a sixth at Bristol. Craig has changed his mindset over the years when going to new racetracks, which he believes will help him come Winchester 400 weekend.
“We’re going to do the best we can, that’s another prestigious race and another track we’ve never been to. I seem to do a lot better at tracks we have experience at but hopefully we can find a good setup for us to put underneath the car and make a run for it.
“As I get older and mature a little bit, now I get to these tracks and maybe not try to be the fastest guy in practice, maybe just working up to it, getting a feel for the car and what I need in the car to make it better instead of just going out there and trying to lay a lap time down,” he added. “I think that comes with experience and getting a little bit older and all that, taking your time and learning what the car wants to do at these different tracks.”
The high banks and speeds of Winchester are nothing like what Craig has experienced in the early years of his career at tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway and Orange County Speedway. As time has taken him to bigger, faster facilities around the country, he has come to enjoy the faster racetracks Super Late Model racing has to offer.
“When I started, I was going to Hickory and tracks like that, but in the last year or so I’ve really started to like these tracks where you just have a ton of speed and you’re on the edge of control every lap. Winchester’s another track like that and it gets me really excited. There’s a lot of thrill going to tracks like this and it’s always a lot of fun.”
Even though he has past experience at similar high-banked facilities at Nashville and Bristol, Craig has already been told to not rely on what he knows from the two Tennessee racetracks. With the Winchester sitting just over a month out, he relishes the opportunity to test his bravery at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
“We ran that race at Bristol, but everybody says it doesn’t even compare so don’t even think about it. It sounds like it’s pretty fun and you have to be brave to get up there and let the car hang out and go as fast as you can. I don’t know, it’s going to be an experience. I hope I can handle it.”
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo