Fresh off the announcement that he will return to Bill McAnally Racing and compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Chris Eggleston sets his sights on one of the biggest Super Late Model races of the year.
For the third straight season, the Erie, Colorado driver makes the trip west to Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, California for the $30,000-to-win SRL Winter Showdown. The first two years mechanical issues hindered a strong finish, but Eggleston has confidence as he heads back to Bakersfield this year.
“We are really excited to get back out to the Winter Showdown in Bakersfield,” said Eggleston. “This will be the third time that we have made the trip out there and hope this is the year our luck turns around. Based on the speed we had at the end of the season in Colorado combined with the amount of work George, my dad, and myself have put into this car in the off season, I am excited to see how we stack up against some of the best Super Late Model drivers in the country.”
The 27-year-old driver got his first taste of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series four years ago when they made a stop at Pikes Peak International Raceway (CO). The series never returned to Colorado, so Eggleston followed them to California, and now bringing home a trophy from the Winter Showdown is at the top of his list.
“We have always loved racing in the SRL series and the way Larry Collins and his whole staff run and promote the show,” said Eggleston. “When we heard they weren’t coming back to Colorado three years ago, and that they were putting those eggs in the Winter Showdown basket, we thought we would give that race a try. Honestly, if I could only race one Super Late Model race this year, I would pick the Winter Showdown just due to the fact of how much fun we have every year we go out there, despite our past history of bad luck.”
Eggleston only ran a handful of Super Late Model races last year, mostly at his home track in Colorado. With limited time behind the wheel and a stacked entry list, the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion knows it’ll be a tall order to finish the day in Victory Lane.
“The big names that that will be there this weekend should solidify that this race has become the Snowball Derby of the west coast,” said Eggleston. “However, I feel more prepared going into this Winter Showdown than years prior. Another weakness to us is we could not go out and test prior to the event like most teams will have done. Because we have a family owned and operated business here in Colorado, we just couldn’t be away for that long. However, I feel like we should have plenty of practice starting on Thursday to learn and gain a direction on which way we want to race the car. We are taking a couple different packages out there to try and want to make sure not only do we have good short run speed, but also good long run speed in case this race goes green for a long distance.”
One other challenge for Eggleston this weekend, he will play the role of both driver and crew chief. With the addition of controlled pit stops, communication will be at a premium for the Colorado driver and his hometown team.
“We don’t really have a crew chief going to this race, and therefore will have to communicate with my spotter and guys on pit road to come up with a strategy not only prior to the race, but also as the race is starting to unfold,” said Eggleston. “Because we are on a new right side compound this year, we are not really sure of the tire wear and drop off which will also factor in how we will strategize for tires.”
Despite his lack of time competing against the top-notch Super Late Model competition, where Eggleston could hold an advantage is track time. He’s competed at Kern County Raceway several times over the past few years, including bringing home a pair of top-five finishes the past two seasons in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
“Being that we have raced two super late model races as well as two K&N races at Kern, I feel like I am pretty comfortable with the race track and also feel we know what to expect,” said Eggleston. “I would say the biggest difference this year is that this year will be the first Winter Showdown raced under the lights, versus in the day time in years past.”
Race fans can watch Eggleston race for the $30,000 check on Saturday, February 11 by purchasing the Speed51 TV pay-per-view broadcast here.