On the old television show ‘The A-team’ one of the leading characters, Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, often remarked, “I love it when a plan comes together” after his team had executed a successful mission. This past weekend the plan laid out by Dirt Late Model driver Ashton Winger and his crew absolutely came together as the Hampton, GA racer swept a pair of Schaeffer’s Oil Iron-Man Late Model Championship Series events collecting $3,000 for each triumph.
Those wins brought the driver’s 2019 victory total to four.
Winger scored his first triumph of the weekend on Friday night at Crossville(TN) Speedway by outrunning established stars Cory Hedgecock, Donald McIntosh and Michael Chilton in the 30-lap feature event. Then on Saturday night the 19-year-old led all the way in another 30-lap main event at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. to earn the spoils of victory for the second time in as many nights.
“Man, it’s just awesome people and things coming together,” Winger declared in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com following his Smoky Mountain effort. “We’ve actually been pretty fast, we weren’t bad at Eldora when we went up there a couple of weeks ago. It usually comes down to me. When I’m halfway in the ball park our stuff is pretty good. My car has always been really good. There are so many people on this car who help me out and make this deal go around. I get to do the easy part but it’s cool when you’re actually in the middle of it.”
Winger went on to describe the upbeat mood of his team after moving from one victory lane to another.
“I don’t know what it’s been these last two days other than things just clicked,” he pointed out. “There’s nights when I feel like I can’t give them away and there’s nights when I feel like I do everything right but still don’t win. It’s racing and it all comes full circle. We’re feeling pretty good right now and hopefully we’ll continue with the success.”
With Winger finding success at his relatively young age, he realizes the importance of measuring each weekend’s gains versus the last.
“You’ve got to take the small gains,” Winger explained. “We made one of the races at Eldora, but of course, when you go there you want to win. I had never won in Tennessee before this weekend and we came in here and won both of them. There are signs that when things come together you kind of feel like you know something is going to happen and when it actually happens you’re not surprised by it and that’s pretty cool.”
Winger says that the relationship he has developed with his team members has not only helped his racing career but his state of mind regarding racing and everything else.
“I get to ride up and down the road with people I love,” Winger stated. “Before we got out of the truck today we were laughing and cutting up. Even when racing doesn’t go our way we know this is our life and we live it. We eat it, sleep it, breathe it. So even when things don’t go our way it helps to have awesome people around to pick you back up and get you back on the horse so you can try it again the next week.”
Winger is the son of longtime shock and setup guru Gary Winger. The young driver explained the importance of his family ties to his racing progress.
“It’s everything,” Winger explained. “I wouldn’t have a lot of the help I’ve had if it wasn’t for him because he’s him. It’s definitely easier to go talk to somebody knowing that they know your dad. I’m normally a pretty shy guy but I could go up to Mark Richards right now and ask for help and that guy’s one of the most iconic names in Dirt Late Model racing and I owe a lot of that to my dad.”
Winger says the key to his recent run of success has a simple explanation.
“It’s all about putting the pieces together and having the people surrounding you,” Winger insisted. “It’s a family affair and it’s a team sport and everybody on our team is like family. I’m pumped up for the rest of our season. We’re getting to the part of the year where racing season is really starting to pick up. We’re going to go to some bigger races this year and I’m tickled.”
So what goals does this racer set for himself?
“Our biggest goal everywhere we go is to just be competitive. We went to Eldora and we didn’t know what to expect but my dad was telling me since I was 14-years-old that you can’t let that moment get too big. Seeing Brandon Sheppard win that race with everything he’s been through because, like he has said in interviews, he’s been to Fairbury when there were 40 cars there and not made the race. You’ve got to set them goals and chase after them and our goal is to be competitive every week. If we do our jobs and control the stuff we can control we think we have good enough stuff that we can be competitive everywhere.”
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