The 2018 racing season for the Champion Racing Association (CRA) is just around the corner with the season-opener for the ARCA/CRA Super Series on April 7 at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) serving as the first points race of 2018 for any of CRA’s four divisions. After a season that saw four thrilling championship battles in 2017, series officials couldn’t be more excited to get back to the race track to kick off another season.
“I’ve got a lot of people inquiring about racing in all four divisions,” said Glenn Luckett, the Series Director for CRA. “It seems like we’re going to have some guys that have raced with us in the past race more with us this year in the Supers. With the JEGS Tour we’ve got some guys that have moved up to the Supers. Obviously they’ll run the Super Series and that’s what we’ve always envisioned happening. It’s developing into that feeder series and that’s what we need. We’re pretty excited.”
Luckett said he feels that CRA has a lot of positive momentum after the debut of the new Chase format that led to last season’s aforementioned championship battles.
“I think a lot of it goes back to the Chase deal that we started last year,” Luckett explained. “Overall, we felt it was very successful. We had more people run for each division’s championship than we’ve had in several years, especially in the Sportsman and Super Series classes. It made for the most exciting championship races that we can remember in a long time on Winchester 400 weekend. Everybody was very happy with that. It accomplished exactly what we wanted it to. We’re pretty fired up about that.”
Luckett also said that some of the series’ positive momentum stems from a successful CRA SpeedFest weekend back in January at Georgia’s Crisp Motorsports Park for the ARCA/CRA Super Series and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Models.
CRA SpeedFest this year was run as a Friday-Saturday event due to a poor forecast on Sunday. Track and CRA officials made the decision to run Sunday’s racing events on Saturday. Luckett said that decision paid off well.
“The way it all worked out, the promoter was actually happy and they’ve already talked about doing that same schedule next year. To me, it’s a win-win for everybody. It saves some people some money and it gives us a chance to have a rain date.”
The Champion Racing Association sanctions four different series of racing: ARCA/CRA Super Series, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour, CRA Late Model Sportsman and CRA Street Stocks. When asked what has him most excited in 2018, Luckett wasn’t able to nail down just one thing across all four divisions.
The first item Luckett mentioned is the new Street Stock Five Crown.
“I always enjoy the 200-lap Street Stock races. I was a Street Stock racer and we always enjoy those races and the way in which those races have grown over the years. Some of the race tracks we go to with those races, it’s their biggest races of the year. It’s always good to have those kinds of races. The fans come out and the Street Stock guys get that kind of notoriety. The fans always come out and the cars come out and it’s good racing.”
The Five Crown races will be held at Shady Bowl Speedway (OH), Mt. Lawn Speedway (IN), Anderson Speedway (IN), Kentucky Motor Speedway (KY), and Winchester Speedway (IN).
Luckett also expressed his excitement for the Late Model Sportsman Triple Crown as well.
“That will definitely give that division a much-needed boost this season,” he said.
The Late Model Sportsman Triple Crown events will be held right in the heart of the summer at Mt. Lawn Speedway, Anderson Speedway and Baer Field Motorsports Park (IN).
The third item that Luckett mentioned is the move of the Masters of the Pros Event from Lebanon I-44 Speedway in Missouri to Birch Run Speedway in Michigan.
“We liked going out to I-44,” Luckett said. “It was a good experience and those guys worked hard with us. They’ve struggled the last couple of years and we understand that. They wanted to take a back seat this year and focus on their local stuff this year and build that back up. We’ve always had a good presence in Michigan with the (Pro Late Models) and we’ve always had good attendance at those races.”
This year the Masters of the Pros event on June 8 will be 200 laps and will feature controlled cautions. The event will also pay $11,000 to the winner as part of the JAS Expedited Trucking Michigan Cup.
“That’s a lot of money for a Pro Late Model race. We’re really excited about that.”
Luckett also spoke about two more events that have him very excited for this season. One of those is the return to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Short Track U.S. Nationals May 17-20, and the other is the second running of the Redbud at 400 laps at Indiana’s Anderson Speedway on July 16.
“We’re going back to Bristol this year. I think the racing will be better because they’ve been on that tire and most of them have already been on the race track. The Street Stocks, we’ve already got more than 60 entries so we’ll have a ton of them. It’s the same thing for the front-wheel drive cars too. We’ll have a ton of those as well.”
Luckett said his favorite part of the 2017 Redbud 400, the first Redbud at 400 laps instead of 300, was the added strategy that the event saw.
“When we did the breaks everyone had the same strategy. But now that we have controlled cautions and the extra 100 laps there’s a lot more strategy about when you take your tires, when you pit and all that kind of stuff. You couldn’t have asked for a more exciting finish with Steve (Wallace) and Raphael (Lessard) beating on each other like that. It was good. The promoters were happy. Rick Dawson liked the format and wants to continue to do it. I think it was definitely a success.”
Even though a poor forecast washed out this weekend’s Cabin Fever Championships for the Late Model Sportsman and Street Stocks at Indiana’s Lucas Oil Raceway, the rain has definitely not dampened their spirits. All-in-all, Champion Racing Association officials can’t wait to get the 2018 season under way.
For more information on the Champion Racing Association, head to www.cra-racing.com.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos