A trip to the Winchester 400 started with a single tweet.
Jett Noland, a Late Model racer in Florida, tweeted out a giveaway offer for a signed t-shirt. Winchester Speedway's Twitter account responded by seeing if the Sunshine State driver had any interest in tackling the track's famed high banks.
— Winchester Speedway (@FastestHalfMile) August 16, 2020
Noland responded with a challenge for his fans: Get 100 retweets, and he would enter the famed Winchester 400 against some of the top Super Late Model racers in the country.
— jettnoland50 (@jettnoland50) August 16, 2020
In a matter of hours, Noland landed the required retweets. On Monday, the young gun confirmed he would take part in the event, driving for three-time Winchester 400 winner Mike Cope during Speed51's "The Bullring."
“We’re going to be running the Winchester 400 now, since we got 100 retweets on that tweet," said Noland. "I can’t wait to work with Mike Cope and them. They do a great job on our Trans-Am car right now. I also can’t thank Anthony Campi enough for the hard work they’ve been putting in.”
Noland admitted the reaction to the tweet surprised him, but he was pleased to see fans getting behind his racing efforts.
“It made me feel great, honestly. I didn’t think we’d get 100 retweets that quickly. I figured we’d get them, but I didn’t think we’d get them that fast."
While it will be Noland's first trip to the daunting Winchester Speedway, he admitted he enjoys racing at high-speed, high-banked racetracks. He enjoyed competing in the 2019 U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) and feels a faster venue fits his driving style.
“I loved running Bristol last year. I loved the high banks and high speed. I think I’ll love Winchester.
“I just like the high speed. It’s a little bit harder to drive and little bit harder on the body going around the corners. It’s a more aggressive driving style going into the corners.”
The partnership with Mike Cope stems from an interesting avenue, as Noland has competed with Cope this season, turning left and right in the TA2 class of Trans Am. While Cope has focused his racing efforts on the Trans Am program in recent years, he was once a standout short track racer in his own right. Cope won three consecutive Winchester 400s between 1993 and 1995.
“It makes me feel amazing running for Mike Cope. They had one of the best teams back in the day, and they still do, I believe. I can’t wait for this race.”
That partnership also afforded Noland the opportunity to compete with the Stadium Super Trucks at Road America, even scoring a fourth-place finish during the weekend. It's a big jump - literally and figuratively - from those vehicles to a Super Late Model, but Noland believes driving a variety of race cars will make him more adaptable and flexible as a racer.
“It’s been crazy the past few months, hopping back and forth between different cars. At the end of the day, it makes me a better driver. I love jumping back and forth between the different cars. It’s a challenge for me, and I like getting into different cars because each car is a different driving style and different technique.
“I feel like this last year, we’ve been making a lot of progress. I feel like jumping back and forth between the Trans-Am car makes me a better race car driver and improves my racecraft.”
The 49th Annual Winchester 400 will take place October 9-11 at Winchester Speedway.
Fans who missed Noland's interview on "The Bullring" can click here to watch an on-demand replay of Monday's episode, presented by Pit Weld U.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo