Cayden Lapcevich has accomplished a great deal in his young stock car career, but very little should have prepared him to win the pole for the prestigious Winchester 400.
And yet, here we are.
The 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion paced The World’s Fastest Half-Mile in 15.493 seconds, good for the fastest overall time in his debut appearance at Winchester Speedway in Indiana in the Bobby Blount No. 16.
Upon checking his phone after climbing out of the car, Lapcevich received a text from his dad, veteran racer Jeff Lapcevich.
“I don’t know where you learned to qualifying like that,” the text read.
“That lap was perfect,” the Lapcevich younger Lapcevich added. “It was everything I wanted, and I don’t think I could have had a better lap than that.”
Lapcevich’s Pinty’s Series wins came at St. Eustache, Saskatoon, Chaudier and Jukasa — mostly bullring ovals with the exception of the latter. He also has a win at Riverside in Nova Scotia, perhaps the closest track to Winchester’s high speeds and high banks.
“This place is completely different than anything I’ve ever done,” Lapcevich said. “This place has character. This is going to be a long race We’re going to have to survive and I’ve got a little plan in the back in my mind how to do that. I’m going to stick with it and see what happens.”
Of the 31 cars on the initial entry list, 28 took time on Saturday afternoon, separated by 0.831.
The top-five behind Lapcevich was Chandler Smith making his first Super Late Model start of 2020 in Donnie Wilson’s No. 2, 2016 race winner Travis Braden, Redbud 400 winner Carson Hocevar and defending winner Stephen Nasse, who led all but eight laps in 2019.
That race was of course won with a different brake package that was finally discovered in Snowball Derby inspection.
Nasse believes he should be a favorite again on Sunday too.
“Definitely not the same general package, but we’ve found ways around it,” Nasse said. “We have good car. It’s up in the air here of course, but I feel good about it.
“We have speed. We showed that in practice. It’s more about the longevity over 400 laps, but we’re not going to learn that until we start racing. 400 laps is a long time.”
Braden and Team Platinum brought a completely new car to the 400 this week. They’re still building a notebook on it but like what they’ve seen so far.
“Really only got the two practice sessions today, so we are a little concerned, only because you don’t know what you don’t know,” Braden said. “We feel a lot better after qualifying. I’d like another tenth of speed in the car, probably, but I can’t sit here and complain being top-three after qualifying.
“I feel really good in the car. 400 laps. We’re in the conversation, and if the conversation starts with you in it, we can work with that.”
Bubba Pollard is making his fifth start in the Winchester 400, but first since 2015. He has finishes of fourth, ninth, eighth and fifth, but the 2020 run for the rifle did not get off to a good start with a 23rd place qualifying effort.
He offered a no comment when asked for an interview.
For those unable to attend in person, a Sunday only broadcast is available for $30.
The complete results of time trials can be found below.
- Cayden Lapcevich 15.493
- Chandler Smith -0.021
- Travis Braden -0.116
- Carson Hocevar -0.118
- Stephen Nasse -0.145
- Kyle Crump -0.166
- Josh Brock -0.168
- Albert Francis -0.217
- Cody Coughlin -0.223
- Michael Simko -0.230
- Brandon Oakley -0.232
- Jeff Fultz -0.245
- Greg Van Alst -0.280
- Dan Leeck -0.304
- Jack Dossey III -0.315
- Kodie Conner -0.322
- Dalton Armstrong -0.323
- Sammy Smith -0.351
- Mason Keller -0.355
- Hunter Jack -0.356
- Jake Garcia -0.364
- Augie Grill -0.383
- Bubba Pollard -0.507
- Brandon Varney -0.540
- Chase Burda -0.559
- Dakota Stroup -0.646
- Zachary Tinkle -0.647
- Jake Hinton -0.831