Thomas Burbage celebrates in victory lane this past weekend at East Carolina. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)
Robersonville, NC – For the second weekend in a row we were down south visiting the high-banked, 3/8th mile, D-Shape oval that is East Carolina Motor Speedway. Eleven other Late Model Stock Cars joined us for what was looking to be a nice sunny day. Newcomer Brenden Queen was looking to make it two in a row after getting his first career Late Model win in the previous week. However, some of the regulars had something different to say.
A little bit of a monkey wrench was thrown into the mix this weekend as a small rain shower came through the area just as cars hit the speedway for their second round of controlled practice. Dumping water on the track for about forty-five minutes washing away any rubber that was laid down during the morning test and the first round on practice. Tyler Matthews, who mind you is riding one hot streak so far this season, went out and set the fast time early once qualifying came around. A time of 15.440 (87.435 MPH) was all Matthews needed to secure his spot at the top of the speed charts.
Tyler may have had a quicker lap during qualifying but it was very clear Burbage had the better reaction come drop of the green flag. By the time the field made their way down the front stretch the #9 of Thomas Burbage had cleared the field by turn one looking for the advantage down the backstretch. Matthews was able to stay strong early, gives a little bump to the leader as they exit two but Burbage was able to keep the car under him and in front of Matthews.
The nights only caution came early as Tyler Horne, who recently made the move to Late Models had issues with his car and coasted down the backstretch and ultimately came to a stop in turn three. After the race we learned it was a rear end that took Horne out of competition. “This was the first time we have had power to the car,” Horne told us post race. “We will get it fixed and come back.”
Burbage, the control car on the ensuing restart, wasted no time getting back to the gas in the restart box – clearing the field once again in turn one. Brenden Queen also with a good enough jump to get around Matthews into the second position. It looked like the triplet of Burbage, Queen and Matthews were going to be the class of the field as they all opened up a pretty large lead over the rest of the field.
It took about twenty-five laps for the handling to go away under Queen’s car. Allowing both Matthews and Louis White to make up some major ground all while Burbage slowly opened up his lead lap-by-lap. The battle for the second position was really the highlight of the night. Queen, who actually looked to be holding the field up, was only able to hang on to second till just past half way before surrendering the spot to Matthews, who left the door open for Louis White
Field stayed pretty strung out as Burbage worked on putting some of the slower cars a lap down. We didn’t see out next real “battle” so to speak till lap 52 when Louis took a look under Matthews out of four and completed the pass out of two as the field was working lap 53. That was about all she wrote, with the exception of Mercer catching and passing Queen to take the fourth position on the racing surface. No one had anything to offer Burbage this past weekend as tire selection and rain seemed to help the nine car out. Will point out this was the second week your winner lead the race wire to wire.
East Carolina will take two weeks off and return to action May 14th with Late Models, Street Stocks, UCAR, Super Street, and INEX Bando’s. Registration will open at 2:00 PM, Grandstands and practice starting at 3:00 PM, Green flag approx. 7:00 PM
P1. #9 Thomas Burbage; 75
P2. #7 Louis White; 75
P3. #63 Tyler Matthews; 75
P4. #25 Kenneth Mercer; 75
P5. #03 Brenden Queen; 75
P6. #16 Rusty Daniels; 75
P7. #12 Wesley Johnson; 75
P8. #01 Jeff Shiflett; 74
P9. #77 Malik Koonce; 74
P10. #6 Evan Horne; 20
P11. #28 Tyler Horne; 2
Though the full moon was the night before, Jesse Council came into the weekend looking for redemption from setting on the pole and coming up second the week before. There must have been some residual effects in the air or some magical Full Moon dust floating around the track. Mix in another class of cars, a competition caution at lap ten, and another yellow to get safety personal from inside the track to outside the track, it seemed as if the deck was stacked against Council this past weekend.
Council set the fast time earlier in the afternoon in their one lap qualifying session with a time of 16.499. One thing was sure this past weekend; Council was not playing around from the moment the team rolled the car out of the hauler. However, things were not made easy for Council, not only having to worry about Travis Roberson in his rear view mirror but some very strange odds and ends during the race.
Dodging cars both on fire and slower off corner exit, Council and Roberson had their hands full the first ten laps before the Bomber class – a lower class with just three cars making the trip – was taken off the speedway. Once the track was clear and the Street Stocks were able to get back to work, the race started to heat up good between Roberson and Council – who for the second week in a row were in a league of their own. Not to mention some good racing between Scotty Lawrence and Kevin Benton for third.
On the final restart of the night Council was able to clear the field through one and started working to put some distance on last weeks race winner. Trying to close the gap was last week’s winner, Travis Roberson. However, a little bit of a slip off turn two with about five laps to go was the final nail in the coffin for the #3 car. After building a brand new car and struggling with the notebook all last year, it was a very emotional win for Council. Letting the fans know that he was extremely proud of his team and very thankful of his family who have been behind him.
P1. #00 Jesse Council; 30
P2. #3 Travis Roberson; 30
P3. #83 Scotty Lawrence; 30
P4. #55 Kevin Benton; 30
P5. #99 Kenneth Willis; 18
P6 #10 Frank Riegal