WINCHESTER – The 50th running of the Winchester 400 went out with a bang and will be discussed for years to come.
Because of an issue with tire wear, the competition flag waved after every 50 laps and tire strategy became a factor at the finish.
Jack Smith who only accepted the ride in the Team Platinum Chevrolet this week took the lead of the Lucas Oil Winchester 400 on Sunday on Lap 333 with an outside pass of Sammy Smith.
The caution flag waved on Lap 378, and all the lead-lap cars except for Jack Smith pitted for tires.
Another caution flag waved when Stephen Nasse spun on the front straight, which set up a five-lap sprint to the finish.
Sammy Smith quickly moved into the second spot by passing Eddie VanMeter and closed on the rear bumper of Jack Smith.
On the final lap, Jack Smith got loose coming off the second corner and Sammy Smith made his move to the inside.
Before the two leaders reached Turn 3, there was contact with Jack Smith and the outside retaining wall, and Sammy Smith was sent to the tail of the lead lap for a run to the finish.
Jake Garcia started on the point and scraped the Turn 2 wall, which allowed Sammy Smith to take the lead and the victory over Nasse and VanMeter with Garcia coming home in fourth as the last car on the lead lap.
“It was a good call on tires,” Smith said in victory lane. “I had a good run on the inside of him (Jack Smith), and he came down on me.”
Nasse said the tires kept coming apart on his car, particularly in the middle stages.
He came from three laps down to the leaders to challenge for a second Winchester 400 victory.
“I couldn’t push it at all,” Nasse, said. “The vibration on the front straight was terrible.”
VanMeter ran most of the race without power steering.
“We pitted for tires with 20 laps to go, but I couldn’t turn the car in the corners,” he said.
It was a tough day for race leaders, with early leader Chandler Smith having an electrical issue. Dalton Armstrong lost an engine, and Hunter Jack had a left front suspension break while leading.
Jack’s crew made repairs, allowing him to drive to a 12th-place finish which was good enough to win the Champion Racing Association’s Super Series championship.
Anderson’s Josh Ebbert got caught up in an incident on Lap 79 with Carson Hocevar with the car of Muncie’s J.P. Crabtree flipping in Turn 2.