One year after winning the All-American 400, Donnie Wilson has stacked the deck in his return to Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
In addition to his trademark No. 2, Wilson has also prepared a No. 53 out of his Oklahoma City shop for 2016 Maritime Pro Stock Tour champion Cole Butcher.
The good news for Donnie Wilson Racing is that Butcher qualified on the outside pole to Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Raphael Lessard. The bad news is that Wilson himself posted was just 11th quick.
Wilson wasn’t worried.
“This car is fine,” Wilson said. “We just tried some stuff. It cooled off more than we thought it would and that hurt but this car will be fine for tomorrow.”
Wilson has the luxury of splitting strategies and development on a weekend like this one. Wilson has prioritized the customer car, making sure Butcher has what he needs to succeed, and is confident in his skillset at Nashville that he can learn even without the optimal strategy or set-up.
And all the while, he’s building a notebook.
“We wanted to give Cole a shot to win the pole,” Wilson said. “You could call me the R&D car. This car is way better than what it qualified. This is a 400 lap race, a long time, so we’ll make the adjustments we need to and be up front at the end.”
Wilson has two wins at Nashville, a 2016 North-South Challenge victory and the 2017 All-American 400. It’s been a huge benefit to Butcher in his debut at the venerable Tennessee Speedway.
“It’s been huge,” Butcher said. “This place means a lot to Donnie and he puts a lot into his stuff here. He’s really good here and he’s made my learning curve a lot shorter in my first race here.”
In a perfect world, after 400 laps, Wilson hopes to top his 2017 win by finishing first AND second on Sunday.
“We’ve got a really good shot tomorrow,” Wilson said.