Parker Stephens put his name on the map with a second-place finish at the Winter Showdown back in February. Four months later, the driver from the state of Washington is hoping to turn even more heads with a win in another Showdown, the Summer Showdown, this coming Saturday at Washington State’s Evergreen Speedway.
Stephens, 19, enters the race with the goal of adding a major Super Late Model victory to his already impressive resume.
“I need a big, huge Super Late Model win on my resume,” Stephens told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’ve got some wins and stuff, but I think winning a big Super Late Model race would just add to the list of races I’ve won. This is a race where you can put your name on the back of a sweatshirt and it’s a race people talk about every year.”
Following his second-place finish to Bubba Pollard in the Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park in California, Stephens was pleased with the run but it left him hungry for more. The Summer Showdown will serve as his next chance to score that big Super Late Model win that he so badly desires.
“Finishing second to Bubba Pollard at the biggest race on the West Coast is nothing to hang your head about, but getting that win is definitely something that could boost my career,” said Stephens. “It would maybe put me in something that I don’t have the opportunity to (drive) right now. Winning this race and having a second at the Winter Showdown will definitely boost my stock value right now and hopefully open up some more doors.”
For Stephens, his visit to Evergreen Speedway serves as a return to one of the tracks that he calls home. The track is located just an hour away from his hometown of Olympia, Washington and he’s expecting a large number of his supporters to be at the race track this weekend.
“This is pretty much a home track for me because it’s only an hour away, so it’s like my second home track when I’m up here in Washington. I’ve got a ton of people coming to watch this weekend,” stated Stephens. “I’ve been living in California since January so coming back here and racing up here for the first time close to home is going to be huge. It will be cool because it will be a chance for all my fans and close friends to watch me race. They’ll be able to see how I’ve improved as a driver and all of that stuff, see my improvements and see a big race.”
Heading into the big race weekend, Stephens is confident that he’ll have what it takes to score the $25,000 winner’s check at the end of 200 laps. He has experienced success at the Monroe, Washington race track previously and hopes to continue that trend.
“We’ve won races here before,” explained Stephens. “I’ve ran Legends races here on the three-eighths (mile) and we finished fifth in the Showdown last year on the five-eighths, on the big track. We finished third at the Mark Galloway and had good success here last year. I look forward to it, I think we’re going to win this weekend. I have a good feeling about it.”
But in order to win the race, which currently has 41 drivers on the pre-entry list, Stephens knows he’ll have to beat some of the best from his region and beyond. Northwest stars such as Garret Evans and the Riddle brothers (Owen and Taylor) will be joined by West Coast stars like Derek Throrn and North Carolina’s Preston Peltier.
“You get a lot of good competition, you get the guys that come up from the West Coast that want to run bigger races and stuff like that,” said Stephens. “Then you have your guys from up here in the Midwest that are your top contenders for wins every weekend. It’s just like the Winter Showdown, you get the best of the West Coast in this deal just because it’s been a known race for a while now.”
Just like he did at the Winter Showdown earlier this year, Stephens’ game plan this weekend will be to survive and be around at the end of the race. If he puts himself in that situation, he’s confident that the positive results will follow.
“With this deal I’d say to stay out front and keep your nose clean,” explained Stephens. “Keep yourself out of trouble the first 100 laps and the second 100 give your team a chance to work on the thing and make adjustments to make it better for the second half that way you have a shot to win the thing. As long as you’re out front and staying out of trouble and get the first 100 out of the way, then maybe start hunting and making things happen.”
Stephens will look to make things happen beginning with Friday’s qualifying at Evergreen Speedway. The 200-lap Summer Showdown will roll off at approximately 7 p.m. PT on Saturday night.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com