The 49th running of the Winchester 400 was full of storylines after 400 action-packed laps at Winchester Speedway. Here are our “leftovers” from the marquee event.
Bubba Will Be Back for Winchester Glory
Bubba Pollard’s return to the Winchester 400 did not go as planned. However, the Georgia driver is adamant he will return to the crown jewel event.
This year’s Winchester 400 start was Pollard’s first since 2015, snapping a four-year hiatus from the event. Pollard lacked speed throughout the weekend, ultimately finishing 27th in the event after an early exit.
Pollard pulled off the track after just 67 laps in the Winchester 400, unsatisfied with his car’s handling and performance and unwilling to risk wear and tear on the machine.
“The race car’s not any good. We struggle at certain places with the type of race car we have,” Pollard told Speed51. “We’re just going to have to go to work, re-engineer some things and make it a little better at certain places like this.
“There was no reason to put laps on a motor and the race car, take a risk of tearing it up. We have a lot of racing left this year. We just have to come up with a better gameplan and start over.”
Despite the poor showing, Pollard insisted he will be back again in 2021.
“Hell yeah. I’m going to keep coming back until I win it. We’ll be back. We’ve got to work on things, but we’ll keep working and get better.”
Brock Survives for Second ARCA/CRA Title
The “Championship Chase” proved to be a battle royale at the Winchester 400, with Josh Brock being the last man standing out of the four ARCA/CRA Super Series title contenders.
With Michael Simko and Greg Van Alst losing several laps on Pit Pay pit road and Cody Coughlin retiring after 266 laps, Brock took the title with an 11th-place finish. The championship was his second in three years with the series.
“It feels awesome,” said Brock. “The first one always holds a special place in your heart, but this one was a long, hard-fought battle. We had to go with a little bit different strategy than we wanted, but at the end of the day, we only had to beat three guys.”
While Brock was overjoyed to win the title, he looks forward to the chance to compete in the Winchester 400 without championship implications.
“I wish it didn’t come down to these playoffs where you have to race these differently. I’d like to go after one of these and be able to race hard and not worry about the championship.”
Keller Caps Off Tripleheader Weekend With Top-Five
It’s not uncommon to see racers compete in both the Pro Late Model and Super Late Model features of Winchester 400 weekends, or other crown jewel Late Model events. Mason Keller took it one step further, competing with the Midwest Modifieds Tour on Saturday afternoon.
Keller capped off his triple duty weekend with a fifth-place finish in the Winchester 400. Keller was the first car one lap down in the 400, the only race of the weekend where he didn’t finish on the lead lap.
The Indiana driver finished sixth in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race on Friday night, while finishing 10th in his first-ever Modified start. Keller won the Last Chance Qualifier to earn his spot in the Run for the Gun 50, then raced his way up to 10th from the 17th starting spot.
Chandler Smith Battles to Top-10 Finish
It was a roller-coaster weekend for Chandler Smith as he joined forces with Donnie Wilson Motorsports for the Winchester 400. The end result was a 10th-place finish for the Georgia driver.
The weekend started with engine issues sidelining his No. 26 entry, but Donnie Wilson placed Smith in his own No. 2 and stepped out of the seat. Smith quickly found speed in that entry, setting fast time in final practice and qualifying second.
Smith spent the first 114 laps inside the top five of the field, in position to compete for the win. However, a flat tire on a restart led to a multi-car incident, which knocked several drivers out of the race.
Smith and his team recovered, getting back on track in 14th position, and Smith persevered to finish 10th.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo