East Carolina: Ronnie Barnette Memorial 200
Robersonville, NC – The regular season has ended, champions have been crowned in the NASCAR Whelen All-American series but that does not mean the racing has to end there. As a matter of fact, sometimes that’s when the real racing begins! Drivers and teams have put the whole idea of “points racing” behind them and focused solely on winning that race. East Carolina Motor Speedway, nestled in the lovely little town of Robersonville, North Carolina has finished their first official season under the NASCAR banner and looking to partake in the luxurious off-season.
In just a weeks time East Carolina Motor Speedway will be hosting the Ronnie Barnette Memorial 200 on Saturday October 18th. Thats right you read this correctly, they will run their first Saturday night program of 2014!
“We have the Limited Late Models for 75 laps,” John Vick – promoter of East Carolina Motor Speedway told us. “The open-wheel modified’s will also be running for 75 laps that night as well.” The modifieds he is referring to are the ones that commonly run out at Langley Speedway, Southside, and typically Ace Speedway. Included in the line-up will be the ground pounding Street Stock Division for 25 laps as well as the UCAR division for their 25 lap feature.
“I am expecting a bunch of cars,” Vick told us earlier this week. “I think we will have at least fifteen limited’s and at least that, maybe, more on the modified side.” With race teams now all complete with their points season, and East Carolina focusing on running classes that are classified as division two in NASCAR’s eyes might just be the push they need for a huge turn out. With headlining the weekend with Limited Late Models it should not conflict Myrtle Beach Speedway who is running their prelim races for their big race in a few weeks.
With absolutely no where else to run this season and the size of the winners purse I can all but guarantee you the IMCA style modifieds should have an even better showing than the time in the past. I have already seen buzz around social media of a few drivers showing interesting. One of those drivers is previous race winner and seven-time Langley Speedway Modified champ Shawn Balluzzo. Balluzzo actually ran into some pretty bad issues championship weekend when a motor expired and borrowed another car but since then the team as been thrashing away on the car.
“Ronnie Barnette helped us with tech last year and has been friends of the Perry’s (Track Owner – Wayne Perry) for many years,” said Vick. “He helped Chris Perry back when he was racing. Ronnie did a lot for the sport and many drivers and Mr. Perry feels he should be honored.” Track officials as well as drivers are excited for this race, and excited to see the tracking paying honor to someone who has helped out as much as Barnette did.
Jesse Council, East Carolina’s Super Street track champion, is as ready as ever to get back to the track. “We as a team are highly motivated for the Ronnie Barnette memorial race,” Council said about next weekend. “I’ve heard great things about Ronnie but never knew him. I look forward to celebrating his memory and having a great showing on October 18th.” Council has been a crazy strong car all season, now pair that with a brand new sponsor and ironing out some issues found with the car you better keep your eye out for him!
We caught up with Shawn Balluzzo to see how his car was coming along after blowing a motor two days prior to winning his record tying seventh modified championship at Langley Speedway. “Looks like we will not have our motor and tell Thursday or Friday night before East Carolina,” Balluzzo told us. “But we will make it and we will be there to win!” Balluzzo won the first time these cars were invited down to the track and Balluzzo looks to make that streak continue.
Practice will begin at 10:00 am next weekend at East Carolina Motor Speedway, followed by qualifying at 5:00 PM with the green flag set to fly at 7:00 PM. With $,1300 on the line in the Limited division, $1,100 up for grabs in the modified’s, as well as a good chunk of change for both the Street Stock and UCAR divisions this has “Best Race of the Year” written all over it
I encourage everyone who enjoys short track racing to mark this one down on your calendars but I do understand those who cannot make the trip. Do not worry the staff at The Weekly Racer will have you covered with LIVE coverage on our Twitter feed (@theweeklyracer) starting at 4:00 PM. Don’t have a twitter account and still want to follow along? We can help in two ways, 1) I will do my personal best to help you set one up, or 2) We have a widget on the side bar of our webpage you can follow along with, you just have to refresh the page to get the updates.