If on-track experience at Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway were currency, USARacing Pro Cup Series drivers Chase Elliott and Brandon Ward would be millionaires.
On October 3, the USARacing Pro Cup Series heads to Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway for a 250-lap feature that will test drivers in more than just ability, but also in knowledge of the track. This serves both Ward and Elliott well since both participated in the Labor Day special at the speedway, with Elliot winning the feature.
Elliott, of Dawsonville, Ga., said of this win, “It’s very special for me to have been a part of the reopening of the facility after 14 years and to be a part of the names that have won there.”
Looking forward to this race, both drivers have a better understanding of the track because of their Labor Day weekend experience. Ward, of Winston-Salem, N.C., said, “The big thing is to learn how to manage tires because the track is so old. You have to get a feel for the long runs.”
“I think the tire will hold up better and be more consistent on long runs (than the Pro All Star Series tire),” said Ward, driver of the No. 65 Heritage Truck Centers Chevrolet. “Every series worries about tire wear because of how worn out the track is.”
Elliott echoed Ward’s comments about tire wear saying, “The tires in the two series are a very different compound, so, I think, just understating the abrasiveness of the track itself is the most important thing.”
Tires are not the only issue drivers will be concerned with this weekend. Wilkesboro is notoriously difficult to pass at and presents a unique challenge with the elevation changes in the front and backstretch.
“It can be tricky the way turn one is shaped and how flat it is off turn four,” said Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Red Bull Ford. “You just have to careful not to overdrive turn one after going up the backstretch.”
“It’s the only track I’ve been to where you can tell a big difference going into a corner,” said Ward. “I think most of the passing will be done coming out of the corners. We’re going to have to beat them out of the throttle and getting into turns three and four.”
Despite the challenges Historic North Wilkesboro presents, Ward knows the importance of racing at the facility. “It’s neat to have the track back up and running with the history there,” said Ward. “It’s a different facility than anything around here, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s close to home too.”
The USAR Pro Cup Series, formerly Hooters Pro Cup, is owned by Interstate Investment Group (IIG) and is based in Concord, N.C. For more information on USARacing, visit www.usarprocup.com.