Augie Grill is making his first start in the Winchester 400 since 2014.
Bubba Pollard is making his first start in the Winchester 400 since 2015.
Chandler Smith is making his first Super Late Model start of 2020.
Travis Braden, Carson Hocevar and Cayden Lapcevich are each starting inside the top-five after winning major Super Late Model races over the past 12 months.
Overall, the 2020 Winchester 400 features its largest entry list in several seasons.
And, of course, its headlined by defending winner Stephen Nasse — who led all but eight laps last year and doesn’t seem particularly moved by who did or didn’t show up this weekend.
“I mean, last time I remember them racing here, I think I lapped them all,” Nasse told Short Track Scene on Saturday. “And then last time we all raced together, at the other big race, I lapped them all there too. So (chuckles) the competition level isn’t harder.
“The competition that was here last year is probably what will be running up front this weekend. You’re going to have your (weekly) CRA (Super Series) guys and they’re probably going to outshine those other guys.
“My win here last year was just as good as the one this year will be. I’m looking to make it three in a row for Jett Motorsports.”
Nasse enters Big Race Season with something to prove. He dominated the Winchester 400. He was poised to contend in the All-American 400 at Nashville until an incident damaged his car. He was the flagged winner of the Snowball Derby until he was disqualified by Ricky Brooks for an unapproved brake package.
The latter development put into question his previous major wins last season, including one in the U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway, something Nasse believes wasn’t warranted.
Nasse is now using a modified version of the same Brembo brake package and is out to make a statement this weekend in the first of the marquee autumn Super Late Model races, and believes he has the car to do it.
“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.”
The biggest challenge over 200 miles is reliability and attrition — the possibility that the race could turn into a crash fest.
“There hasn’t been as much carnage with the smaller fields starting this race in recent years,” Nasse said. “If I remember correctly, there have been several races here that started with a full field but ended up with only six cars running at the end — and those were boring and strung out.
“I felt like last year’s smaller field kept everyone out of trouble. With the larger field this year, my biggest concern might be having more carnage, and giving us more problems to avoid.”
But who makes up the field? That’s not as big of a concern to Nasse.