Special from Speed51.com – Jake Garcia’s Super Late Model coming out party came at the Snowball Derby, when he finished second in his debut as a 14-year-old. Ten months after his head-turning run at Five Flags Speedway, the Georgia driver turns his attention to another crown jewel event: the Winchester 400.
He is coming off a race where he more than likely had the car to beat at Bristol Motor Speedway, but a flat tire all but ended his chances at his first Super Late Model victory. Despite having to settle for a fifth-place run at the conclusion of the Pinty’s U.S. Short Track Nationals, his run at Bristol has him feeling good about his chances this weekend.
“I’m feeling really good about it. A couple weeks ago we went to Bristol and that’s a very similar track to Winchester, similar length and banking and that sort of thing,” Garcia told Speed51. “We were the dominant car all race at Bristol, it’s just a flat tire that got us there. I feel like if we can do the same thing at Winchester. I feel like we’ll be pretty good.”
While this will be Garcia’s first Winchester 400 start, it won’t be his first time at the high-banked half-mile. He ran both JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour races at the facility one year ago, but both races were cut short due to wrecks.
“It’s definitely cool, it took me a little bit to get used to with the line and how fast you go through the corners. It’s different than most tracks we go to, it’s tough to get a handle of. I feel like we now have a handle on it.”
Even at such a ripe age, 400 laps around Winchester is a daunting task. The phrase “in order to finish first, you must first finish” cannot be more prevalent than in the Winchester 400. That has been Garcia’s biggest focus going into the marathon, making it to lap 400.
“it’s a race of the fastest car since it’s such a fast track, but it’s also a race of attrition there with it being 400 laps. I’ve been hydrating and eating right to prepare for this weekend. Hopefully I’ll be alright and feel good by race time Sunday.”
Garcia has finished in the top-five on seven different occasions, but that first win has still yet to come. While the Winchester 400 has historically been unkind to teenage drivers, the two drivers who have won the event before their 18th birthday are both in the NASCAR Cup Series. He could join Chase Elliott and Erik Jones as the only drivers to win the Winchester 400 before reaching adulthood.
“That would definitely be a big win, it’s one of the crown jewel races of Super Late Model racing. It’s a big race and it would mean a lot to pick up the win there this weekend. The 400 is one that people look up to and really aspire to win throughout their career. It’s a bucket list race to win, it would be really cool to win this weekend.”
The Winchester 400 weekend is scheduled for three action-packed days of racing at the “Fastest Half Mile” on October 9-11. More tickets have just been released and are available at winchesterspeedway.com/tickets.
Teams and fans wanting to purchase pit passes early to help expedite their entry to the infield can do so at pitpay.com or download the Pit Pay App wherever you obtain App for your mobile device.
Fans unable to make the trip to Winchester, Indiana will be able to watch all three days of racing via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.TV. For more information and to order your video ticket today, click here.
Be sure to follow Winchester Speedway’s social media channels for the latest updates on upcoming events. “Like” the Winchester Speedway Facebook page, follow @FastestHalfMile on Twitter and Instagram.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51