CRANDON, WISCONSIN – The Big House… Cory Winner, driver of the #67 Fabtech / General Tire Pro Lite knew this was going to be bigger than anything he had ever been involved in. Preparation began in July for the Fall Crandon race. An estimated 50 to 75 thousand people were expected. The #67 would receive a full prep job from the guys at Winner Motorsports. With 4,300-mile roundtrip, it was going to take everything to be successful.
The track was like nothing we had ever raced on before, and we really didn’t know what to expect. From gear ratios to tire cuts, it was an initial guess. Jerrod Wedell, crew chief of the #67 was pretty close out of the box. Some drivers stopped by the pits to offer some advice to young Cory Winner about the world famous “Turn 1”, but it wasn’t till he got a few laps in during practice that he started to get a feel for things and settle into a groove.
With twenty Pro Lite trucks entered into the race, young Cory Winner knew things could quickly get out of control in a hurry if he didn’t keep it together. “The biggest thing I am worried about is the land rush start. All of us are going to be wide open. It could go smooth or go very badly in a matter of a couple of seconds. We are racing next weekend for points so I am trying not to hurt the truck, but I am also not going to back down”, said Cory Winner.
“We all have wanted to come to Crandon to race, to be the best, to race the best. The fans here are incredible. This place has so much history. The support we have received from the first minute has been great. Now we just have to dig deep and figure this place out. We have a great team, a young, fast driver (my son) who just soaks everything up and listens to his peers. He has shown great maturity in certain situations where a lot of drivers get frustrated and start to overdrive the truck, which makes things worse. We made it here and we are going to do everything we can to get to the front while learning from our mistakes”, said Dave Winner.
The team started prepping the truck for the long standing tradition in Crandon – the Labor Day parade. All of the entries in the race would display their vehicles downtown while the parade was going on. After the parade, the team would head back to the track where they would start prepping for qualifying. Having only a few laps around the track in practice, crew chief Jerrod Wedell would only make some minor changes as Cory felt good with the setup during practice. Not making a lot of changes paid off. Cory qualified 9th and only less than a second off position 1.
Now it was time to get ready for the land rush start. There would be plenty of discussion on what and how to do it, but most of it had to be from Cory and how he handled the multiple situations all of the other drivers would put him in while they were full throttle going into Turn 1. The crew set up the hot-pits and geared up for the race. Cory would start almost in the middle of the 15 truck front row. 50,000 plus fans stand up and the green flag drops on the TORC Pro Lite race. Twenty trucks smash the gas pedal at once and all head for Turn 1 trying to get the hole shot. Cory spun the tires just a little and would be sent to mid pack, but made it through okay headed for the sweeping Turn 2. Each lap is 1.75 miles in length which makes it the longest track we have raced on. After the first lap, Cory started to settle into a groove. He slowly started making his run towards the front as he stayed with the lead pack. As the second and third laps went by things started to get a little stretched out on the 1.75 mile course, but Cory was hanging in there with the big guys, in the Big House.
The mandatory caution came out half way through, which bunched the field back up. Being new to TORC, there restarts were slightly different. Cory jumped the restart which set him back 2 positions. He then fought his way back to 8th place where he sat behind Rayford in the #29, which is where he would finish the race. “I just tried to stay out of the carnage and race my race. I can’t say enough about my sponsors. The General Tire / Ultra Wheel combo is really working for us. We haven’t had any flats or broken wheels in 2 seasons. Impact Safety for always keeping me safe in the truck. Dirt Logic Shocks were dialed. I can’t wait for tomorrow because I think I left a lot out there”, says Winner.
The team would tear things apart and get ready for Sunday’s action. A new tire groove from Jerrod Wedell and some minor shock adjustments would hopefully get Cory up front. The Crandon World Cup race on Sunday was a no-points all or nothing shootout with $15K up for grabs in prolite. Cory would have the same schedule as Saturday, qualify and then race. With the track changing, Cory Winner would have his hands full if he was going to better his Saturdays spot. With only 3 laps of qualifying and slower traffic, Cory would ended up qualifying 14th and would have some work to do if he was going to make a run at the podium.
Sunday’s race conditions were near perfect. No rain with slight overcast would make for some great racing. The green flag dropped and Cory found himself near the back of the pack going into Turn 1. Half way through the lap he would get by a number of drivers before some more bad luck would strike. A couple of trucks got together, collecting Cory and sending him back a few positions. A few laps later he was involved in another incident on the track, ripping part of the rear bumper off, tearing a Heim joint apart in his steering and a right front flat which would make it difficult to drive. He kept his composure and was able to work his way back to finish the race in 9th place. “He didn’t complain. He didn’t say a heck of a lot. We’re very proud of Cory. He is turning into a first class driver. He and the rest of the team did a heck of a job all weekend. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.’, said Jerrod Wedell.
The team will now focus on heading back to southern California in route to the Lucas Oil Regionals at Lake Elsinore on September 10th and 11th. “We will get home, unload the trailer and fix what needs to be fixed. Mount up some new General Tires and reload. It’s a harsh couple of weeks but we have gained some invaluable experience which I think is going to help this team overall.”, said Dave Winner.
Cory would like to thank his sponsors: Fabtech, Dirt Logic, General Tire, Ultra Wheel, Maxima Racing Oils, Traxxas, Impact Safety, Motive Gear, Signpros, Powertrain Industries, Eibach, Inland Empire Recycling, QTM Brakes, Power Steering Solutions, Gary Turner BMX, and THINK Technology.