WInchester 400: Saturday News and Notes By Mike Twist
Gabehart, Lawler, Fultz and More
GABEHART IS SMOOTH, AND QUICK, IN QUALIFYING

When Chris Gabehart turned the first of his two laps in time trials for the 37th Annual Winchester 400 CRA Super Series race at Winchester Speedway (IN), just about everyone in the house gasped at his quick lap, which set a new track record for the fendered machines.

Well, just about everyone….For Gabehart, it was more like a simple Saturday night cruise.

“I’ll be honest with you, it was a really smooth lap,” said Gabehart.  “My spotter told me what I turned on the first lap and I went for it again on the second lap just so I didn’t leave anything on the table.  This is a good start to the weekend, now it’s time to go 400 [laps].”

Mitch Cobb, Chuck Barnes, Zach Taylor and Scott Hantz rounded out the top five qualifiers.  We’ll have the full qualifying rundown at the bottom of this story.

Boris Jurkovic scraped the wall in turns three and four on the first of his two qualifying laps.  On his second lap, Jurkovic qualified in the 17th position.  That incident also had ripple effects for Jeff Lane, who went next in the qualifying order.  On Lane’s first lap, the caution came out for debris from Jurkovic’s car that was spotted on the track.  Lane had already gotten up to speed on his lap when that caution came out, so he requested that he be allowed four sticker tires for when he finally did get to take his timed lap near the end of the qualifying session. His request was granted and Lane qualified in the seventh position and left the day with a much higher tire bill.

RYAN LAWLER: SUPER SUB

Last season, Ryan Lawler won the Winchester 400.  This year, the part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitor was going to skip coming back – since he recently sold all of his Super Late Model equipment and therefore had nothing to race.

Meanwhile, Kyle Busch needed some help getting his #51 race-ready.  Busch was tied up at North Carolina’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway with his day job of being a NASCAR superstar for the Winchester 400 practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday and needed someone to shake down and time trial his car.

So Lawler and Busch joined forces – to the benefit of both parties.

“I didn’t want to come here and just watch the race,” said Lawler.  “So at least I got to practice and qualify the car.  Qualifying is my favorite thing here anyways.  You’d better come in shaking or you didn’t drive it hard enough.”

Lawler was doing a rain dance and hoping that Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Lowe’s got rained out.  If that is the case, Lawler would get to run the 400 in place of Busch.

If Lawler does get to race the car, he won’t feel any pressure even though his “boss” won Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at LMS in dominating fashion.

“There’s no pressure at all,” said Lawler.  “This is a really good car.  No matter who drives it in the race, it will be strong.”

But the rain dance didn’t work, Busch raced in North Carolina and will be in Winchester tomorrow for the 400.

FULTZ COMES HOME

Jeff Fultz loves coming to race at Winchester.  That’s not really a surprise either, since he got his start in racing at the high-banked facility.

Fultz recalls that in 1991, he started out running a Ford Pinto, with the number 30 on it, in the Mini Stock class at Winchester.  The car might have been mini in size, but not performance, as he recalls running laps in the 18-second range with that car.

“We really had a lot of fun with that car,” remembers Fultz.

HISTORY ALL AROUND

There is no shortage of history here at Winchester and that fact really hits you as you walk into the grandstand area.  A “Wall of Fame” exists with photos of racing through the years and you can’t help but to stop and take that all in while walking by. 

Everyone from short track legends to younger versions of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup stars are on the wall from when they raced here.  Those on the wall include Roger McClusky, Bob Senneker, Gary Bettenhousen, Bobby Allison, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ken Schrader, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Mike Bliss and the late Kenny Irwin.  All of those racers have turned their share of laps around this facility.

ONE HARD HIT

Rich Segvich hit the frontstretch wall hard with his #91 in the second practice session for the Super Late Models on Saturday.  His car suffered heavy front end and right side damage in the wreck and won’t race this weekend.  However, its driver didn’t waste his trip to the track.  Segvich rolled out a Sportsman car and entered that race instead.

“Never come to the track without bringing two racecars,” said one of the team’s crew members.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a happy ending to the team’s day.  Segvich was in and out of the pits throughout the Sportsman feature race and as a result, he finished in the 29th position..

FIRST TRY EQUALS FIRST VICTORY

The CRA Sportsmen ran the Howe 50 on Saturday night.  Mark Parker checked out early in his Outlaw-bodied #72 while Justin Alsip reeled him in around the halfway mark.  On a lap 34 restart, Alsip set up Parker for a pass.  Two laps later, he made that pass.  Two turns later, he went around coming out of turn four and got clipped by Billy Hutson and Rick Rinehart.  Alsip took a hard hit, but walked away from his car under his own power.

With Alsip out of the picture, Parker didn’t exactly have an easy run to the finish. He ended up winning the feature, but the top five finishers were almost nose-to-tail at the finish line. 

Parker’s win came in his first CRA Sportsman start.  He is a normally a regular at the Shady Bowl Speedway.

Finishing behind Parker were Charlie Hanna, Ken Tweedy, Steve Minich, Jr. and Terry Cater.

Tony Dager clinched the CRA Sportsmen title by simply starting the feature race.

DOUBLE DUTY

A few CRA Super Series drivers are doing double duty this weekend.  In addition to running the Winchester 400, Jeff Fultz is also ran a USA Modified for the first time since 1995.  Fultz finished a strong second in that event.  Modified racing isn’t foreign to Fultz.  He also has a start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Jack Smith and Ken Tweedy are Super Late Model drivers who also ran in the Sportsman feature.  Tony Dager ran in both the USA Modified and the CRA Sportsman events.

QUICK NEWS

David Stremme, next year’s driver of the #12 Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry, had other commitments and was not at the track on Saturday.  His #35 Super Late Model stayed loaded in its trailer all day.  Stremme will race in the 400-lap Super Late Model feature tomorrow though…..Chuck Barnes had some clutch troubles in practice with his #55, but overcame those problems later in the afternoon…..Maine’s Seth Holbrook, a fixture on the PASS North tour, is here at Winchester helping out the Kyle Busch Motorsports #51 team…..Fast qualifier Chris Gabehart and Johnny Van Doorn both rolled out brand new racecars for this weekend’s event.  Gabehart’s is from Port City, while Van Doorn’s is a Hamke creation.

THE FULL RUNDOWN

As promised earlier, here is the full rundown from qualifying for the Winchester 400:

1.Chris Gabehart – 15.008 seconds
2.Mitch Cobb – 15.128
3.Chuck Barnes, Jr. – 15.156
4.Zach Taylor – 15.252
5.Scott Hantz – 15.302
6.Rick Turner – 15.323
7.Jeff Lane – 15.326
8.Jeff Fultz – 15.340
9.Ryan Lawler (for Kyle Busch) – 15.346 
10.Adam Purdy – 15.428
11.Justin Drawdy – 15.434
12.John Van Doorn – 15.450
13.Eddie Van Meter – 15.457
14.Kenny Tweedy – 15.466
15.Tommy St. John – 15.484
16.JR Roahrig – 15.513
17.Boris Jurkovic – 15.518
18.Jason Dietsch – 15.567
19.Stanley Smith – 15.578
20.Donnie Wilson – 15.662
21.Brian Rivley – 15.662
22.Jason Shively – 15.670
23.Dennis Schoenfeld – 15.688
24.Brent Jack – 15.734
25.Terry Fisher, Jr. – 15.754
26.Bull Baker – 15.785
27.Aaron Pierce – 15.863
28.Jack Smith – 15.910
29.Sean Matthius – 15.942
30.John Heck – 15.959
31.Robert Maynor – 16.045
32.Justin Alsip – 16.290
33.Chad Poorman – 16.564
34.Brandon Fagin – No Time
35.David Stremme – No Time
36.Drew Turner – No Time
37.Rich Sevich – No Time







Jeff Lane's #11 used an extra set of tires in qualifying.
Cole Watson (#45) led all but one lap of the Wildcat feature, but Chris Warming won the race eventually in the tech line.
The Winchester "Wall of Fame"
Chris Gabehart's pole-winning #17  (51 Photos)
Ryan Lawler wheeled Kyle Busch's #51 Super Late Model on Saturday.
There were all kinds of different ways to get around the grounds at Winchester - including motorized bar stools.
Rich Segvich's #91 before, during and after a hard practice wreck.
Jeff Fultz is behind the wheel of both the #6 Modified and #67 Super Late Model this weekend.
The ultimate jack?  Winston Wood's #10 Street Stock gets a boost from a Ford F750 Boom Truck.