BAKERSFIELD, CA, – 2006 Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series Champion Eric Schmidt has entered the Sixth Annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway on March 21st. Schmidt is one of the most successful drivers in series history with five wins, 30 top-five and 46 top-10 finishes. His Showdown stats don’t bear that out, however, as he has only one top-10 in five career starts. Schmidt will head to Bakersfield with a strategy a little more similar, to his regular Southwest Tour Series starts. He hopes that change will lead to better results.
“We just need to stop kicking our own butts at these big races”, Schmidt volunteered. “I think we are always swinging for the fences with our setups, and trying to light the world on fire, but rarely does that work. So, going forward our motto will be “KISS”, Keep it Simple Stupid”
Adding to the Roseville, CA resident’s effort will be a teammate for this event. Car owner Randy Hedrick will also make the trip to Bakersfield. In an infrequent two-car effort for the team, both drivers will be looking for good runs, and the team has the equipment and wheelmen to achieve that goal.
“We, as a team, will work together to do the best we can”, Schmidt stated. “Randy will have a new car and new crew chief, for this race. I am looking forward to seeing both of us have a great race weekend.”
Schmidt has participated in his fair share of big, high paying Super Late Model Features over the years. He has five starts each in the Winter Showdown, 2020 Evergreen Speedway Summer Showdown and Montana 200. He is also the all-time winningest driver in Win-River 150 history, from Shasta Speedway, with four. It was an event that at one time had the highest car-counts in pavement Late Model racing on the West Coast. These types of events add extra excitement for Schmidt, and he is always excited to participate in them. He will have ample opportunities to do so, on the 2020 SRL schedule.
“The big money races are exciting and fun to be a part of for sure”, Schmidt admitted. ‘I hope we get lucky enough to cash in on some of them.”
Given Schmidt’s history at the Winter Showdown, it could be expected that he would have tempered expectations. His best finish was a seventh in 2016. His other starts all resulted in DNF’s outside the top-15. But as a former SRL Champion, and the championship runner-up in 2018, Schmidt will look for a little more.
“We as a team expect to run up front, and contend for a win. But at the end of the day, we want to keep the fenders on it, and have something to work with for the next race.”
In his pursuit of the championship, the 2013 Pacific Challenge Series Champion started the season off with a seventh-place finish in the $25,000-to-win All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. The team started the weekend off strong, but challenges hindered their efforts on race day. The team was able to overcome those obstacles and post a solid finish as Schmidt recalled.
“The race weekend at Irwindale started out good for us, then on Saturday, we had a mechanical issue that threw us a curveball. But we recovered for a decent finish. We just need to stick to what we know and build from there. Consistency is key to success for sure.”
To compete for a race win, or a championship in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, it takes a team effort, with a lot of help. Schmidt has those elements in place and is thankful for his opportunity to compete as such.
“I want to thank Randy Hedrick and Sierra Speed for everything they do to keep us racing and in top-notch equipment”, Schmidt expressed. “I’d like to thank Rick Terry, at RT Painting, for his continued support, as well as Willie Allen at W.A.R. Shocks. Also, to all my guys on the team. Without a good group of guys, it doesn’t matter what you have for equipment and driving talent, you won’t be able to get it to the Winner’s Circle.”
The 2020 Winter Showdown, from Kern County Raceway, is entering its sixth season of competition. It is supported by Spears Manufacturing, Motor City Buick GMC, Traffic Management, Inc. and Visit Bakersfield. The previous winners of the event include Bubba Pollard Fan Page (2015, 2016), Derek Thorn(2017), Kyle Busch (2018) and Ty Majeski (2019). The previous Feature Events have included several formats, with distances of 250 laps (2015 – 2017), 300 laps (2018 – 2019) and this year’s 200-lap version.
In 2020, the event will feature a halfway break, where half of the purse money will be awarded based on its’ result. The completion of 200 laps will wholly determine the final championship event finish, with the second half of the purse payout. Drivers eligible for the Spears ManufacturingFrequent Flyer Program will receive a minimum of $1,400 to start the feature. If required, eligible drivers who do not transfer from the Last Chance Qualifier will receive $1,000.
The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Super Late Models will be joined by the Spears Modified Series, as well as the Kern County Raceway Super Stocks. The SPEARS Modifieds will be racing for $4,000-to-win. The event will be Nationally televised on MAVTV, at a date to be named later. It will be Live-Streamed on https://spearsracing.tv/.
Celebrating its twentieth season in 2020, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series…Where the Champions Race”.
Photo courtesy of SPEARS Southwest Tour Series