Chris Windom leads a contingent of dirt racers into the Food City Dirt Race this weekend at Bristol Moto Speedway. The recently-crowned Triple Crown USAC champion joins Rick Ware Racing with the help of Sprint Car team Hayward Motorsports for his NASCAR Cup Series debut.
“Big Daddy” brings along sponsorship from NOS Energy Drink, who he is also partnered with on the USAC trail. He began calling and texting those in the industry when the event was first announced looking to test the waters of possibly putting a deal together, and with the help of some old friends he was able to lock down the opportunity.
“I’m really excited, it’s a pretty unique opportunity that came about. It took quite a few people to put the deal together,” Windom told Speed51. “It’s quite a cool deal for me to get to go do that, NASCAR racing is what I feel like every young kid watched growing up and I’ve always wanted to be able to do that on Sundays. To get the opportunity to go do it, I’m really looking forward to it.
“I made some calls and texts about it when I heard they were putting dirt on the track, I just happened to talk to a few of the right people. David Byrd started the deal and putting it together, and we got NOS Energy Drink to come on board as a primary sponsor. Without those people, it probably would have never been able to come into play. It was like 50/50, I wanted to do it and I had some opportunities come about along the way.”
Windom is no stranger to racing on the big stage. He has made a total of five starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with MB Motorsports and DGR-Crosley, with two of them coming at Eldora Speedway. He also has made a start in the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during Indy 500 weekend.
In his two previous NASCAR starts on dirt, his best finish was a 14th in 2018. As one of a handful of drivers entered for the Cup race this weekend who has ran the Truck Series race at Eldora in the past, Windom feels that will make the acclimation process easier.
“I felt like I learned quite a bit running those two races there. I think out of all the races on the schedule, the dirt race will bring the equipment to a more-level playing field. I don’t know what to expect yet but I’m going down with good intentions and hopefully we can have a good run.”
Last fall, Windom became just the seventh driver to complete the USAC Triple Crown when he won the USAC National Midget title by a single point over Tyler Courtney. That was just the latest in a long list of accomplishments that include USAC Silver Crown and Sprint Car titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as two Little 500 wins in 2011 and 2015.
“Racing USAC the past 10 years, that was something I had really wanted to accomplish. To be able to get it done my first year with Tucker-Boat (now CB Industries), that was a really fun season to get to do it and to have the Midget title be the last one to get the Triple Crown. That was also Chad Boat’s first title as an owner, so it was cool for us to be able to do that together.”
With is Cup Series debut ahead of him this weekend, Windom is going into Bristol looking to enjoy the experience of being a driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, even if it’s just for this weekend.
“I’m not going in with any sort of expectation, I’m just going to enjoy the experience. Once the helmet goes on, nothing changes. I’m there to win no matter what I’m driving or where I’m at. I’ll give it 100% but I’m not going in with any pre-meditated expectations. We’ll see what happens.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Chris Windom Facebook