The Steelhead Nationals race set for this weekend at the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn. has established itself as one of the premier events in the east Tennessee region for weekly racers. The race is experiencing a change of date in 2018 as it moves away from its traditional fall time slot to late spring. Still, the feature scheduled for this Saturday night will pay a remarkable $3,500 to the victor.
But the Steelhead Nationals isn’t just about a hefty winner’s payout. The event geared for Limited Late Model cars is now entering its 12th year. With the passing of time, there is now an element of prestige involved with this race to go along with the financial reward. The trophy that signifies winning this feature has become a prized jewel that any racer from Tennessee and beyond would want to add to his collection.
Further, the list of winners is definitely an impressive one. Mark Rosner won the first Steelhead Nationals back in 2007. Since then, Cory Hedgecock has captured three of the prized checkered flags with Rusty Ballenger being the only other multiple-time winner with two victories. A pair of racing legends in Ronnie Johnson and the late Scott Sexton have also won this event along with Ryan King, Josh Collins and Jason Cardwell having scored one triumph each.
Almost certainly, a strong field will be present to contest this year’s running of the race. But aside from the competition, there are other factors that the racers must consider. For example, the Steelhead Nationals is set for 40 laps. Weekly Limited Late Model features are typically in the 25-30 lap range and those extra laps can play a factor in the changes the track will go through during the course of the main event as well as tire wear and setup choices. Also, this race is being run at a different time of year. While being contested in the fall, temperatures were often cool. The late May date will, in all likelihood, bring warmer weather which again could impact track conditions.
The Steelhead Nationals has grown into one of east Tennessee’s biggest races. While it is being run at a different time of year, the event will only continue to grow in prestige. This Saturday night, the top Limited Late Model drivers and teams from around the region will be in action at 411 Motor Speedway along with Crate Late Models, Modified Street and Classic divisions.