SWANSBORO, NC – Tyler Matthews picked up his fifth victory of the season, padding his points lead in the track championship standings at Carteret County Speedway on Saturday night.
After starting at the rear of the field due to a hard part change after qualifying, Matthews was able to inherit the lead on lap 18 in the first of two Late Model Stock Car feature races when Chris Burns spun off the front bumper of Michael Tilley in a battle for the lead. Once Matthews got the lead, he never looked back as he drove away for his sixth win of the season, his fifth at Carteret.
“It definitely helped us out to get to the lead early,” Matthews said after the race. “We were a tenth faster than that whole lead pack getting to them so, I knew once we got to them, we could get by them, it just might take a little bit of time. They were racing real close so I was on my toes there. I saw it coming so I kind of laid back. It was great that we came out with the lead and we set sail from there.”
Michael Tilley rebounded from the lap 18 incident to finish second while Rusty Daniels, Chris Burns and Eric Winslow finished third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Burns would get his redemption in the second of two races, snapping a winless drought that dated back to last October.
Burns Eric Winslow in the opening laps of the race to take the lead and held back challenges from Winslow, Tyler Matthews and Rusty Daniels. The win, his first of the year, comes on the heels of a streak of bad luck which culminated last week with two subpar finishes at Southern National Motorsports Park after being involved in a crash with Jeff Oakley and Haley Moody.
For Burns, the victory, the fourth of his career in a Late Model Stock Car, was one of the most satisfying wins of his career.
“We have worked our tails off on this thing all year long,” Burns said. “Nothing but bad luck. We’ve been through rear ends, this that and the other, just breaking stuff and involved in a bunch of wrecks that really weren’t our fault. It does feel good to finally win.”
With his victory, Burns is the first driver to compete in Eastern Carolina Late Model Mania (ECLMM) races at both Southern National and Carteret to score a victory. However, with an average finish of 6.25 in his two best results from each track, he trails Eric Winslow and Rusty Daniels in the ECLMM series. Winslow has an average finish of 3.25 and Daniels has an average finish of 3.75 while Burns has an average finish of 6.25, with two races remaining – twin races at Carteret County on Sunday, September 3rd.
“If we can pull off another win next weekend, I think it would be pretty good,” Burns commented. “I know Rusty had good finishes the last two races at Southern National. If it’s going to be between anybody, it will be between me and him unless Mason [Diaz] comes.”
Eric Winslow finished second in the race while Tyler Matthews, Rusty Daniels and Tyler Horne rounded out the top-five.
Brandon Clements and Jonathon Belfiore continued their dominance in the Mini Stock and Street Stock divisions. Clements, who went virtually unchallenged, led wire-to-wire in the Mini Stock race while Belfiore dominated in the Street Stock feature. Zac Reimer scored the victory in the U-CAR division. Brenton Irving prevailed in a thrilling Legends feature, holding off his father, Shane Irving. Nolan Allison passed Jessica Bean in the middle stages of the USAC Midgets feature to triumph in their 35 lap race.
In the Bangers division race, Tony Harker got the lead with a late race pass on Tasha Raynor. Meanwhile, Aiden Hetu won in the Mini Cup race, Carmen Odum won in the Junior Mini Cup class and Kaleb Bradley passed brother Jacob late to score the Bandolero victory.
Carteret County Speedway returns to action on Sunday, September 3rd with the Solid Rock Carriers Labor Day Classic which will feature the final round in the Eastern Carolina Late Model Mania series.