The Fifth Annual Winter Showdown got under way with a full day of practice on Friday at Kern County Raceway then off and on rain showers played havoc with the schedule.
With track equipment working to dry the track at 8 p.m., the Super Late Model drivers held a meeting with officials and it was decided to not try qualify on Friday night for Saturday’s 300-lap, $30,000-to win race.
Saturday’s race is still set for 1 p.m., but there is rain in the forecast and that will play into how the field is set and as to what time the race will actually start.
As for Friday evening, it was sort of in play-it-by-ear mode. There could be a qualifying session, or the field could be set based on combined practice.” All to be played out on Saturday.
Reigning Spears SRL Southwest Tour champion Jeremy Doss was quickest in practice, lapping the half-mile oval in 17.474 seconds.
Close behind were a trio of drivers: Preston Peltier of Brighton, Colo., (17.497), Bakersfield’s Derek Thorn (17.515) and Ty Majeski of Seymour, Wisc.
Former Bakersfield resident Ryan Reed, who has competed on the NASCAR Xfinity Series the past five years, was seventh quickest in practice at 17.586.
Thorn, who won the Showdown in 2017, would like a shot a qualifying since the No. 1 qualifier earns $2,500, but said it really does not matter where one starts.
“Three hundred laps is a long race,” he said. “If you (start) second, third, fourth, 10th, 12th, 15th, 20th you still have a good shot of making it back up to the front. Donnie Wilson finished second the year we won and he started 23rd or something.
“You can’t lose sight of anybody here. There’s some guys at the top of the chart that have stood out. But I think there’s a few sleepers that haven’t made a lot of noise in practice but come race time will have really good cars."
Thorn led all 300 laps in 2017 but struggled with tire issue last year as blistered tires left him out of the top five.
“This tire is so soft,” he said. “It’s a good thing to run this tire but it’s harder to manage from behind the wheel and the crew chief’s standpoint.”
No doubt the track on Saturday will be far different from what the teams learned in practice on Friday afternoon.
“You won’t know how the car is going to work until the race starts,” he said. “The weather will play a factor. Certain cars are going to like the track, certain cars won’t.”
There will be two controlled stops during the race where team can change all four tires and make adjustments.
“You have to realize the track is going to change as the race goes on and hopefully you have good enough notes to adjust accordingly.”