The Herald Bulletin
---- — Most of the top names in super late model competition will be descending on Anderson Speedway for the running of the Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300 on Saturday.
The marquee super late model race for the ARCA/CRA Super Series is the highlight of a weekend of late model racing action that begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with the McGunegill Engine Performance Late Models along with the CRA Sportsman in a 75-lap tilt and a 100-lap outlaw late model race.
The Redbud 300 is the kick-off for the JEGS Triple Crown, which will pay a $100,000 bonus to any driver winning at Anderson Speedway, the Berlin 251 and Winchester 400.
Last year’s Redbud 300 winner, Johnny VanDoorn, is back to defend his title against a stellar field of CRA regulars and invaders from north and south of the Mason Dixon line. VanDoorn won two of the three Triple Crown events in 2013, failing to win the Winchester 400.
Ross Kenseth, the 2012 race winner, is returning to Anderson, along with Brian Campbell, Daniel Hemric and defending CRA champion Travis Braden.
Bubba Pollard, the current point leader in the Southern Super Series, also is returning and hoping to score his first win at Anderson Speedway.
T.J. Reaid, sponsored by Mitch Smith Auto Service, has to be considered a contender for the victory. Reaid has won the last two 125-lap CRA races at Anderson and put together a strong run in the 2013 Redbud 300.
There are plenty of drivers with local connections looking to make the starting field — CRA regular Rick Turner, Scott Neal returns to action, the father and son team of Eddie and Billy VanMeter, rookie of the year contender Wes Griffith Jr. and Martinsville’s Josh Cave will be making his first CRA start.
Winning the Red Bud 300 demands a lot of patience from the driver, the right pit strategy at the halfway point, saving tires and staying out of mishaps.
Drivers can lose a lap early in the event and still come back to challenge for the victory after 400 laps.
Prerace ceremonies start at 7 p.m. with the green flag scheduled to wave at 7:30 p.m.
It’s never easy to pick a winner in the Redbud 300, but I’m pegging as the favorites Reaid and VanDoorn. Other contenders include Campbell, Kenseth and Pollard.
It should prove to be a dandy two nights of racing.
In other racing news
Dale Earnhardt Jr. locked himself into a Chase position by winning this past weekend at Pocono. Earnhardt joins teammate Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano as Sprint Cup drivers with two wins.
Ed Carpenter, racing only on the ovals with the Verizon IndyCar Series this year, followed up his strong run at the Indianapolis 500 with a victory at Texas over the weekend.
Carpenter was in contention for a win at Indy late in the race when James Hinchcliffe made it three-wide entering Turn 1. The melee sent Hinchcliffe and Carpenter into the wall.
The Texas win is the second for Carpenter’s team in 2014. Earlier this year, Mike Conway won a street course race.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.