POPULAR Mount Gambier driver Steven Lines will attempt to defend his Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic crown.
Premier Speedway officials yesterday revealed Lines was among early nominations for the three-night showcase in January, which has a $250,000 prize pool.
Lines, 29, won the Classic in 2011 and backed up with an emotion-charged victory in front of a bumper crowd in 2013.
He held off American Terry McCarl and Sydneysider Brooke Tatnell in the W3 car after starting out of position two.
A third triumph would have him join five other drivers — Garry Rush, Danny Smith, Max Dumesny, Kerry Madsen and Tatnell — who have won at least three times.
Rush holds the record with seven wins, ahead of Smith, the most successful foreign raider, with six.
Lines, who is back from Queensland where he won two features at Toowoomba, said he was excited about chasing a third Classic title.
He said organisers, including Premier Speedway general manager David Mills, “put on such a good show”.
“There’s good sponsors behind it, such a good car turn out, everything runs so fluently,” he said.
“You see how much racing goes on the track and how they can keep turning things over, everyone knows where they’re going.
“It’s well organised and there’s a good group down there.
‘‘Millsy and them have their stuff worked out.”
Lines said he cautiously backed the Classic going from two to three nights.
“I think it will be good, I can understand why they’ve done it and it will be better, yes,” he said yesterday.
“But I liked the way it was, two nights, because people don’t have to hang on for another night.
West Australian car owner Brian Hall and Geelong crew chief Craig Bennett will join Lines in Warrnambool for the Classic.
His crew also includes his father Mark Lines and best mate Ben McCourt.
Lines said he would need “everything to line up” if he was to secure a third Classic crown.
He predicted a star-studded American contingent would make the trip for the 42nd running of the event.
“There will be plenty of Americans, 18 or 20 again which is tough,” he said.
‘‘They could make up the whole A main by themselves.”
Mills said he was rapt to have Lines locked in.
“It is great to have Linesy back as the defending Classic champion,” he said.
“He and the whole Halls Motorsport team are very professional.
“No doubt they will be coming with all guns blazing.”
Other early nominations include Californian Geoff Ensign, nicknamed ‘The Human Highlight Reel’.
Australians Cameron Gessner, Jeremy Cross, Glen Sutherland and Peter Lack will also chase success.
The three-night Classic starts with time trials, heats and a C and B main on January 24 and 25.
The field will come together for a third round of heats, using an inverted grid which puts the emphasis on passing cars.
A D, C and B mains then precede the $30,000-to-win A main on Australia Day.