The Winchester 400: A Brief History

Many of the top super late model drivers in the country will converge in Indiana this weekend, but the prestigious event has been through some changes over its past 41 green flags.

The annual race held at the unique Winchester Speedway started off as an American Speed Association event with some of the Midwest's historic racing personalities etching their names in the record books.  Michigan's Bob Senneker holds a streak that may never be touched again with five straight wins throughout the 1970s.  Familiar names such as Mike Eddy, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Butch Miller, and Ted Musgrave won under the ASA banner up until the race changed hands sanction-wise for the first time.

In 1992 NASCAR took over with its All Pro Series, but it was Tim Steele who kept the win within the Midwest that season.  Florida's Mike Cope went on to win three straight, and other short track racers from that era like Scot Walters, Hank Parker Jr., and Derrick Gilchrist were victorious in years after.

CRA, then known as the Kendall Late Model Series, sanctioned the race in 1999 with Brian Ross as the winner followed by another three seasons back with ASA with Gary St. Amant headlining those events as the victor twice.

Ever since 2003 the CRA Super Series has taken over the sanctioning, and has grown it into one of the big four super late model events during each of the recent seasons.  Despite the event not being held in 2004 and 2005, household short track names have competed and won in years since.  Not only have area hot-shoes Scott Hantz and Boris Jurkovic survived the grueling 400 laps in first place, but NASCAR names David Stremme and Kyle Busch as well as future star Chase Elliott have shown that they have what it takes to win this special race which boasts a unique Winchester rifle trophy.

In last year's running Kyle Benjamin crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for a rev limiter infraction which handed the win over to Ross Kenseth.  Both drivers will return this year and are hungry for the win.  While Kyle Busch will not be driving, he will have 2012 Snowball Derby winner Erik Jones behind the wheel of the #51 and will be a favorite to win on Sunday.

Other story lines include whether West Virginia's Travis Braden can back up his dominant CRA championship season with what would be the biggest win of his young career.  Most notably, after winning the first two legs of the JEGS Triple Crown Series Johnny VanDoorn could enjoy a $100,000 payday if he could win the Winchester 400.  Both of those drivers have won at Winchester this season already.  Other drivers to look out for include World Crown winner Preston Peltier and Southern Super Series regular Daniel Hemric.

The high-banked 1/2 mile isn't just home to the biggest super late model event in the area throughout the weekend.  The supporting CRA divisions including the JEGS All-Star pro late model tour, Street Stocks, Sportsman, and Compacts as well as the Top Speed Modified Tour all hold their biggest races of the year on Friday and Saturday night.  The Winchester 400 gets under way 2:00 Sunday afternoon.

SBNation.com will be on hand for the entire weekend with updates and stories throughout each day.

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