Ryan Reed will have a reunion this weekend when Super Late Models from all across the country converge on Kern County Raceway (CA) for the $30,000-to-win, 5th Annual Winter Showdown. This will be the first time the 25-year-old driver has been back to compete at his home track since 2013, the inaugural season for the half-mile speed plant. It was a season in which he participated in the track’s Pro Late Model (Super Late Model) division. Reed will now reunite with his hometown fans, hometown track, former series and a former car owner on February 1-2.
Reed, a native of Bakersfield, CA, has spent the last five full seasons participating in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Roush Fenway Racing, winning twice at Daytona International Speedway. He finished in the top-10 in the championship standings all but one of those seasons, which was an 11th-place result this past year. The entire Roush Fenway racing Xfinity organization struggled in 2018 and closed their doors at the end of the season. The end result is some new opportunities for Reed, both within and outside the NASCAR top-three series.
The opportunity to race in the Winter Showdown has come full circle with the team that produced Reed's first start in the “Big Three” NASCAR series. Reed will be reunited with well-known car owner Richard Wauters and the Wauters Motorsports Team. It was Wauters who gave Reed his first start in the now NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, in 2012. The result was a 17th-place finish at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The reunion with his former car owner this weekend at the Winter Showdown means a lot to the NASCAR star.
“Richie called my dad (Mark Reed) a couple weeks ago and said his car opened up, and we jumped on the opportunity," Reed told the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series. “Since the Winter Showdown began, I’ve wanted to race it. It’s a marquee short track race now, and it’s in my hometown, so obviously it has been on my radar to be a part of it. When Richie called I was so excited, I felt like not only could I go run it, but we’d have a shot to win.”
The track is also somewhat familiar to Reed, who grew up going to races at the now defunct Mesa Marin Raceway on the eastern edge of Bakersfield. He participated in multiple events at Kern County Raceway in 2013 in the Pro Late Model Division (now referred to as Super Late Models). Now, he will return to reunite with his former home track and his hometown fans. It is a reunion he has been looking forward to for some time.
“I ran a few super races there five or six years ago before I ran Xfinity full time," Reed began. “The place is superfast. I remember turn three being really tricky, with the back straightaway being raised. It’s going to be really cool to be racing at home again. I grew up watching my dad race at Mesa Marin and loved it so much. I’ve always loved the racing community in Bakersfield.”
This will also be the first time since 2011 that Reed has participated in an event sanctioned by the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series presented by Lucas Oil. Reed had five starts with the series, between 2010 and 2011. His best finish was a second-place effort at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011 behind four-time series champion Derek Thorn, who will again be one of Reed’s toughest challengers for the $30,000 win on February 1-2.
This will be the Wauters Motorsports Team’s third trip to the Winter Showdown, so they are also familiar with what to expect at the high-speed, half-mile tri-oval. Wauters brought Dalton Sargeant to the inaugural Showdown in 2015, finishing second. Last year the team came with Mason Mingus and finished 16th after trouble late in the event ended a strong run. This year the team will be looking for another stout run with Reed behind the wheel.
To make this effort possible, Reed would like to send out a special thanks to Richie Waters, J.B. Critchley Inc., ALL Seasons Logistics LLC, JH Sims Trucking Co Inc and RTS.
To watch a live video stream of Friday and Saturday's Winter Showdown action, subscribe to the Speed51 Network today.
-Story by: Kevin Peters, SRL
-Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images