Three Time ARCA Series Champion Tim Steele has decided to come out of retirement and compete in this weekend’s 39th Annual Winchester 400 Presented by EDCO Welding & Hydraulics and WMDH Hit Country 102.5. Steele was the winner of the 1992 Winchester 400, the first year it was sanctioned by the NASCAR All Pro Series. Steele passed Butch Miller on lap 348 and went on to get the victory over Miller with Gary Bradberry in third, Bobby Labonte in fourth and Jody Ridley in fifth place. Steele went on from there to be the three time Champion of the ARCA Series, collecting several ARCA victories on the famous High Banks of Winchester Speedway.
“I am really looking forward to racing in the Winchester 400 again,” remarked Steele. ‘It was time to get out of the rocking chair and get back behind the wheel and I knew racing the 400 was the place to start, I’ve forgotten more about that place then most drivers know. We tested last Friday and I was comfortable and running competitive times. It would mean a lot to win the 400 for my dad who has been through a lot lately!”
Steele retired in mid summer during the 2007 season after a hard crash in an Outlaw Late Model while practicing at Toledo Speedway. He then purchased John VanDoorn’s CRA Super Series team and was his car owner through the 2008 season. Steele then began concentrating on his daughter Kelsey’s racing at Berlin Raceway were she won the Young Guns Championship last year. Tom Thomas drove Steele’s car to victory in a CRA Super Series event at Berlin in 2009.
The entry list for the Winchester 400 is full of talent, picking a favorite will be tough for this season’s event. Two former event winners are entered including 2008 winner David Stremme and 2006 winner Scott Hantz, who are both looking to add another Winchester Rifle Trophy to their collection. The 2009 winning team owned by Kyle Busch is entered, but All American 400 winner T.J. Reaid will be behind the wheel this weekend. Reaid looked like he had a winning car at the Labor Day Weekend CRA event before engine problems ended his day.
There are also several former CRA Winchester event winners entered lead by 2009 Series Champion and current series points leader John VanDoorn who got his first ever Winchester victory in the Labor Day Weekend event on September 6th. Other drivers entered who have won at Winchester include two time winners Jeff Fultz and Tommy St. John and one-time winners Chuck Barnes Jr., Brian Rievley, Rick Turner, Jeff Lane and Ross Kenseth, the son of NASCAR racer Matt Kenseth who passed Hantz on the white flag lap to get the win in this past May’s CRA event.
14-year-old Chase Elliott tops the list of outside talent entered in this weekend’s event. Elliott is the son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott and has been one of the top late model drivers in the country this season, evident by being named the number one driver in Speed51’s recent Short Track Power Pole. Elliott is coming off three big late model wins including the Blizzard Series finally at Five Flags Speedway, which also gave him the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship. Elliott also won a Super Late Model event at Gresham Motorsport Park on September 18th that was named for his grandfather and he won a PASS Series event at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Labor Day Weekend. Elliott finished a close second to Reaid in the All American 400 event in Nashville on October 2nd. Elliott finished eighth in last seasons Winchester 400.
Another big named outside racer entered for the Winchester 400 is USAR Pro Cup hot shoe Clay Rogers, a former winner of the Snowball Derby, who will be behind the wheel of a car crew chiefed by former ASA Series Champion Gary St. Amant, the winner of the 2000 Winchester 400. Rogers is close to winning his fourth Pro Cup Championship. Other top outside drivers entered includes Dennis Prunty from Wisconsin, a past Champion at Slinger Speedway, Dennis Schoenfeld from Arkansas, Donnie Wilson from Oklahoma, Alabama’s Josh Hamner driving for veteran Stanley Smith and Tennessee’s Mason Mingus.
Other top CRA drivers entered includes Brian Campbell, Kenny Tweedy, Jason Dietsch, Eddie Van Meter, JR Roahrig, Aaron Pierce, Boris Jurkovic, Jim Crabtree Jr., Terry Fisher Jr., Jason Shively, Brent Jack, Scott Whitehouse and top series rookie performers Nick Gullatta, Colin Nickolai and Jay Niewiek. To date there are 41 cars pre-entered for the Winchester 400.
Advanced reserve seat tickets for the 39th Annual Winchester 400 Presented by EDCO Welding & Hydraulic are currently on sale. Tickets can be purchased by e-mailing Greg Wood with CRA at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling him at 765-524-2592.
Pits will open on Friday, October 15th at 11am, spectator gates at 1:30pm. Practice for all divisions will begin at 2pm, qualifying will begin at 6:15, the race program will begin at 7pm. Pit gates open on Saturday, October 16th at 8am, spectator gates at 10:30am. Practice will begin at 11am with support divisions qualifying at 3:15pm. The race program will begin at 5pm with EDCO Welding Winchester 400 pole qualifying. There will be a party in the Pavilion after the races. Pit gates open on Sunday, October 17th at 9am, spectator gates at 11am. There will be an autograph session with all the drivers competing in the 400 and NASCAR Legend Bill Elliott, on the racetrack starting at 12:30pm. The green flag for the 39th Annual Winchester 400 Presented by EDCO Welding & Hydraulics and WMDH Hit Country 102.5.will drop at 2pm.
Additional event information is available at www.winchesterspeedway.com. Information on all the CRA Series is available at www.craracing.net.