ASA STARS National Tour
Winchester 400 Weekend Hourly Schedule Released
Sep 28, 2023
The Winchester 400 is one of the most prestigious races in all of short track racing, going back to 1970 when the event was first run at Winchester Speedway.
Today, we look at the first of a three-part series on the history of the Winchester 400.
Part No. 1 – ASA History at the Winchester 400
While the ASA National Tour wasn’t officially formed until 1973, founder Rex Robbins was promoting races under the ASA banner going as far back as 1965. The inaugural Dri-Power 400 was contested in 1970 under that banner.
Dave Sorg led 301 laps to become the first-ever Winchester 400 winner over Irv Janey and John Sommerville. The race took 3:10 to complete, with Sorg winning the race by five laps. To compare, the 2022 Winchester 400 took 3:20 to go from green to checkered and five cars finished on the lead lap.
The second Winchester 400 went to Denny Miles by eight laps over Carl Sommers and Les Snow. The 1971 race saw more parity, with both Miles and Ron North leading over 100 laps. One year later, Sorg came back and won his second Winchester 400 over Sommerville and Tom Maier, leading 202 laps and winning by a lap.
The 1973 Winchester 400 was the first under the ASA National Tour banner, as the series was crowning their inaugural champion. The race saw the likes of Tom Reffner and Mike Eddy contest the race, but it would be Vern Shrock taking the win after leading the final 107 laps. Schrock arrived at Winchester without a ride, but would end up in Dave Wall’s machine after the Missouri driver was a no-show. Inaugural Winchester 400 winner Dave Sorg would become the inaugural ASA National Tour champion.
The most dominating stretch in Winchester 400 history would then take place as ASA’s winningest driver Bob Senneker would win the race five years in a row – in his first five starts in the race. He made up five laps in 1974 and took his first ASA win over five-time NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Champion Larry Phillips, then led 250 laps to win the 1975 race by five laps over Art Sommers and Randy Sweet.
In 1976, he beat brother Terry Senneker Sr. for his third-straight Winchester 400 win, the first of two times a pair of brothers finished first and second. He took the lead from Dave Roahrig with seven to go to win in 1977, the first time more than one driver completed all 400 laps. The next year, he held off race dominator Mike Eddy for his fifth-straight win in the event.
Senneker was on his way to a potential sixth-straight win in 1979, but an accident with 64 to go knocked him out of the race. It would open up the door for Don Gregory, who would go on to win the race over Ray Young and Mike Eddy. Young would finish second again in 1980, as Terry Senneker pulled off the upset and won his only ASA National Tour race in the Winchester 400.
The 1981 race was the first under the Winchester 400 name after 11 races as the Dri-Power 400. After several close calls, “The Polar Bear” Mike Eddy spanked the field, leading 334 laps and beating defending winner Terry Senneker by a lap. He dominated again in 1982, leading 274 laps before an accident with 75 to go ended his race. Future NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace led the final 75 laps and won his only Winchester 400.
Eddy found redemption a year later, leading 287 laps and beating Butch Miller and Jim Sauter for his second win. Bob Senneker won his sixth race in 1984 over Mark Martin and Dick Trickle, as the three and Miller all finished on the lead lap. After his runner-up in ’84, Martin returned in 1985 and led 188 laps for his first of two consecutive Winchester 400 wins over Harold Fair. He won again in 1986 after leading just 63 laps, and was off to NASCAR soon after that.
Butch Miller was on his way to winning the 1987 ASA title when he won the Winchester 400 that year over Bob Senneker and Fair. He led 276 laps from the pole, one of just three driver to lead laps that day. Past NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave led 321 laps and won his first-career ASA race in the 1988 Winchester 400.
Miller would come back and win his second Winchester 400 in three years ahead of defending winner Musgrave and Tony Raines. 16 years after his first win, Bob Senneker would win his seventh and final Winchester 400 in 1990 by less than a second over Scott Hansen and Glenn Allen Jr. One year after his third-place result, Allen came back to Winchester and won the Winchester 400 over Jay Sauter. Allen started 10th and led 163 laps for his second-career ASA win.
The Winchester 400 would be sanctioned by the NASCAR All-Pro Series and CRA for the next eight years before ASA sanctioning returned for a three-year stint starting in 2000. No driver led more than 85 laps in a hotly-contested return to the Winchester 400. Gary St.Amant held off Tim Sauter in the final laps and won his first Winchester 400 and locked up the ASA title in the process.
The 2001 race saw another barnburner in the final laps as Joey Clanton held off three-time race winner Mike Cope by two-tenths of a second to take his only win in the event. Cope and David Stremme both led over 100 laps, but it was Clanton leading the final 68 laps.
ASA’s final appearance to date at the Winchester 400 was as much about the race as it was the championship battle between Gary St.Amant and Joey Clanton. St. Amant won the race while Clanton fell to fourth after a spin with just over 50 laps to go. However, Clanton would be the recipient of the best of fortune, as Kyle Busch fell out of the race with less than ten laps to go after a loose hood pin damaged the left rear wheel of his machine. Clanton got by the future NASCAR Cup Series champion for third and beat St.Amant for the ASA title by one point.
Part two of the history of the Winchester 400 will look into the brief history of the NASCAR All-Pro Series and their sanctioning of the event in the 1990’s.
The ASA STARS National Tour heads to Winchester Speedway on Sunday, October 15 for the Winchester 400 Presented by Vore’s Welding and Steel. The race will also serve as the season finale for the ASA/CRA Super Series. Tickets can be purchased by calling the track office at (765)584-9701 during office hours.
The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Jesse Love is the most recent winner, claiming the victory in Glass City 200 on September 16.
For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
ASA STARS National Tour
The ASA STARS National Tour debuted in March of 2023 for Super Late Model racing in America. Announced last October, many of the best drivers in America will compete in the ten-race national tour with a minimum $100,000 point fund. The championship team will be guaranteed $25,000.
The ASA STARS National Tour is made up of three races from each of the regional pavement Super Late Model Series under the Track Enterprises banner; the ASA CRA Super Series, the ASA Midwest Tour and the ASA Southern Super Series.
The Team Construction Winner’s Circle program has been announced as a part of the ASA STARS National Tour for licensed drivers/teams with perfect attendance. The program provides additional financial incentives to those teams who support the Series, thanks to Team Construction.
Track Enterprises, a Racing Promotions Company based in Illinois, will operate the ASA STARS National Tour. It announced the acquisition of the CRA sanctioning body in January and followed that up with the purchase of the Midwest Tour in July. In October, Track Enterprises President, Bob Sargent announced a partnership with the Southern Super Series which set the table for the formation of the ASA STARS National Tour.
-ASA STARS National Tour Release
-Photo credit: Gary Ponzani