Monthly Archives: November 2016

Brenden Queen Turns Almost Nothing Into Something; Crowned Runner-up in 2016 Thanksgiving Classic

Brenden Queen finishes just behind Tommy Lemons Jr in the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. (Casey Kern/

Brenden Queen finishes just behind Tommy Lemons Jr in the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. (Casey Kern/

Chesapeake, VA – You know how they say that bad things come in threes? 2016 East Carolina Motor Speedway Late Model Stock champion Brenden Queen was all too familiar with that over the weekend.

Things started off early Friday morning when Queen’s rig broke down on the way to pick up the car hauler. This would effect the time the car would arrive at the track. After securing a new rig, hooking up, and heading down south they discovered a tire going down on the trailer which would effect the arrival time even worse. The issues didn’t stop there however, after arriving more than two hours into morning practice the crew discovered a noise coming from the engine compartment. A bad lifter was the diagnoses from pit road – their weekend was over before it really began.

If we have learned anything in previous interviews with the young Chesapeake, Va driver it’s that Queen Motorsports tends to never give. Team owner Mike Queen and Crew Chief Phil Warren had to go to work and find their driver a motor. Luckily for them fellow competitor Mike Darne had a Ford crate motor he was able to rent the team for the weekend. Spending the rest of the afternoon and evening swapping out motors. Trying to get parts and pieces and their chassis to match up was not the easiest thing they have done. However, when final practice rolled around Saturday morning the driver and crew were ready to roll.

“Really worked on making sure the replacement motor was running good,” Queen said about practice on Saturday. “We couldn’t find any drive off. Just kept working at it.”

Work on it they did as they qualified tenth out of twenty-eight cars that took time Saturday afternoon (31 cars would eventually start the feature). A small victory for a team that has already been through so much in just 24 hours. It proved they had a solid piece with them and with patience and good driving they could be there at the end.

The first half of the race was relatively calm. Drivers getting into their rhythm, figuring out their lines, and trying to save tires. Queen had his work cut out for him the first half of the race trying to work his way up through the field. At one point he had fallen to almost the twentieth position trying to make the high line work on a restart. Doing what he has done some many times throughout his championship run, Queen leaned on the guidance from his crew chief, spotter and mentor – Phil Warren. We asked Brenden once all the dust calmed down and things were back to normal we asked Queen to just put into words his emotions going into the race after having what seemed to be the weekend from hell.


Working through the afternoon to change motors. (Justin Kern/

“To be honest with you it was the same attitude we had Friday that we used in the race,” Queen would answer. “Just kept a never give up attitude. I thought we were going home early after the motor broke Friday afternoon but my dad stepped in and made it happen. Can’t thank him enough for everything he does for my team.

The halfway break occurred around lap 106 where teams could come down pit road and make minor adjustments, add fuel and change up to two tires. The top six drivers were also inverted before they were set loose for the final one hundred laps – or so we thought. Queen knew it was time to get up on the wheel and make things happen as this was going to be the hardest part of the race.

“We never adjusted anything,” Queen commented on the halfway break. “The race started and we were good just couldn’t get the track position. Left it alone at halfway just had to fix damage where the 51 missed a shift. We really kept fighting and worked our way up to about sixth. We got lucky on one of those restarts and ended up getting to third. That last restart there I gave Tommy a run for his money and gave him a little shot going into three on the final lap but didn’t want to spin him for the win. I would hope to be raced the same way if it was the other way around. Congrats to those guys but man we were so close.”

The second place finish would be the highest finish Queen has recorded at Southern National as well as the highest finish in the big post season races of 2016 (10th at Martinsville, 7th at Myrtle Beach) and put a cap on the 2016 season for Brenden. When asked about this season and what it has meant to him and his crew all he could tell The Weekly Racer was it was unbelievable.

“It’s a unbelievable feeling to look back at how far we have come since last December,” Queen went on to explain. “Lots of hard work and dedication. We came into this season with our mind set on one thing, to win a race. Here we are going into Christmas having won four times, earned our first track championship in a Late Model and competing with some of the biggest names on the biggest stages.  I’m very thankful for everything and don’t take it for granite.”

Brenden was not able to give an exact idea on what the plans were for 2017 but one could only imagine after having a break out year like they had in 2016 – who knows what is in store for them when the green flag drops next February.

Christian Eckes Wins From the Pole at Southern National; Carries Momentum Into Snowball Derby


Lucama, NC – Two weekends and two victories for the Middletown, New York native Christian Eckes. After a thrilling victory over JRM teammate Josh Berry in the Late Model Stock portion of the Myrtle Beach 400, Eckes entered the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic with his Super Late Model

Eckes was the only car in the twelve-car field to lay down a sub 14-second lap to claim the pole Saturday afternoon. That speed clearly transferred into Sunday’s race as Christian set the pace early in the 125-lap feature. Colt James, the red number fifteen in the field was the only car able to really give him a run for his money and keep him honest. Some decent racing took place behind the two but it was clear Eckes and James were the class of the field.

The race was only slowed by two cautions. First, we had an issue with a car on the backstretch. This gave Colt James the shot he needed to get around Eckes and set the pace he wanted to run. The second caution, however, was the #15 of Colt James who lost power and coasted on the racing surface. James was able to get his car down pit road and had to nose his machine into his pit stall.

This gave the control of the race back to Christian Eckes, which was the final nail in the coffin. Have to tip our hat to Jake Crum who gave it all he had on the final restart but just didn’t have enough under him, Eckes was able to drive away from the field to earn his first Super Late Model victory.

“We had a really good car this weekend,”Eckes when we caught up with him in victory lane. “We unloaded really strong and stayed that way. I got a little worried there when Colt passed me, really just sucks for him to have a mechanical issue he had a really good car. I am just really happy for all my guys, we worked really hard for this race and it paid off, I am just really thankful to be here.”

Coming off the victory at Myrtle Beach and now Southern National, Eckes is heading into the Snowball Derby next weekend with two consecutive victories and momentum on his side. “We built a brand new car for the derby so we should have a good shot,” Eckes explained. “The momentum is going to be big for me. This is my first victory in the super, we have just had so much bad luck this year it’s not even funny. To win last week and this week it’s a big sigh of relief you know. Both wins are huge for me and it will pay off heading into the derby.”


UNOFFICIAL Accent Imaging SLM Results

1) #15 Christian Eckes; 125
2) #57 Austin Theriault; 125
3) #8 Tate Folgeman; 125
4) #01 Jake Crum; 125
5) #67 Clay Jones; 125
6) #55 Kevin Floars; 125
7) #25 Michael Faulk; 125
8) #25 Anthony Alfredo; 125
9) #98 Jody Meesmer; 117
10) #15 Colt James; 94 – Engine
11) #7 Tyler Church; 84 – Mechanical
12) #17 Darren Shaw; DNS

Tommy Lemons Jr. Wins 2016 Thanksgiving Classic in Over Time

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Lucama, NC – An overtime win in any sport is intense. Going an extra twenty-nine laps in an advertised 200 lap race can wreck havoc on the mind and patience of any driver and crew chief. Tommy Lemons Jr. however, was able to do just that and survive the mayhem that ensued behind him. Lemons started fourth when the green flag flew and immediately worked his way to the front of the field. With a little bit of good luck and great restarts Lemons was able to survive multiple late race restarts and a rather long overtime period.

Lemons, who looked strong all day long, stayed toward the front of the field battling the likes of Lee Pulliam, Justin Johnson and Josh Berry – who coincidently did not finish the race. A few cautions early in the first half of the race bunched everyone up creating some pretty interesting restart. McCaskill & Lemons would trade positions a few more times before the halfway break – which was extended to lap 106 due to an extended caution for clean up.

A six-car invert after the ten-minute break put Nick Smith on the pole for the restart and Tommy Lemons Jr. sixth for the final 100 laps. Feeling good about the car Lemons slapped two fresh tires on the right side of the car and kept the car the same and got at it for the final half of the race. Lemons got settled in line when the green flag waived letting things get worked out. It didn’t take long for things to get wild again after Lee Pulliam, who took total control of the race, went to pass the lap car of Maddy Mulligan and second place Justin Johnson had to split her going down the back stretch. Mulligan pushed up slightly out of four upsetting Johnsons car who eventually looped it.

This put Lemons second on the first attempt at a green, white, checkered with Matt McCall third. That is when things got really interesting. On the restart Pulliam looked to get a bad jump and got a pretty big shove by Matt McCall, who lined up directly behind him into turn one, which sent him for a ride as well as tore up some other racecars. When the dust settled and cars got back to the line Tommy Lemons Jr. was able to make it out of the mess and assume the lead.

Took three attempts at a Green-White-Checkered and twenty-nine extra laps but Lemons was able to hold off three restarts and a shot from 2016 East Carolina Motor LMSC champion Brenden Queen to win the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. We caught back up with Tommy Lemons in victory lane to talk about his strategy after the break and what the team needed to do to survive overtime.

“Yea we were really good there in that first half and decided not to make any changes,” Lemons said in victory lane. “It worked out that we are here in victory lane but if we had it to do over again we probably would of made some adjustment. Our car was just a little bit off putting just those two tires on the right side. We probably had a third place car if it hadn’t been for those late race cautions but everything worked out for us.”

In one of the longest over time attempts The Weekly Racer has ever experienced, we asked Lemons what was going through his headset and if the extra laps changed what he needed to do to win the race.

“It was pretty quiet on our radio,” Lemons explained. “I think the only conversation was between me and one of the race directors about the sun getting into one, other than that it was pretty quiet.”

Tommy Lemons Jr., a two time Martinsville Speedway winner and 2014 SNMP track champion, had a strong 2016 spending the season battling McCaskill for the championship in the CARS Tour was excited to finally get a Thanksgiving Classic title under his belt after letting it slip though his fingers eight years ago.

“One of them [Thanksgiving Classic] got away from us back in 2008 and its been a tough road getting back here,” said Lemons. “We’ve had plenty of good cars here and just couldn’t cap it off. To finally get it back here in victory lane is great, I am the only one who gets to sit all off season, or at least till February and say I am the winner and that’s a good feeling.”

Lemons was pretty excited to go into the off season with victory as well as looking forward to having a few more customers come on board to Jumpstart Motorsports.

“We don’t really know just yet,” Lemons went on to explain. “Things are still kind of up in the air. We got a few customers come on board for next year and we will just see where it takes us.”



1) #27 Tommy Lemons Jr; 229
2) #03 Brenden Queen; 229
3) #51 Matt McCall; 229
4) #08 Deac McCaskill; 229
5) #4 Jonathan Findley; 229
6) #55 Mark Wertz; 229
7) #38 Ricky Jones III; 229
8) #99 Lyane Riggs; 229
9) #21a Tim Allensworth; 229
10) #8 Tyler Hughes; 229
11) #77 Connor Hall; 229
12) #7 Michael Hardin; 229
13) #M3 Shelton McNair; 229
14) #8 Josh Oakley; 229
15) #10 Maddy Mulligan; 229
16) #82 Mike Ganoe; 229
17) #19 Bubba Johnston; 228
18) #17 Stacy Puryear; 216
19) #44 Justin Johnson; 201
20) #5 Lee Pulliam; 200
22) #50 Haley Moody; 194
23) #9 Charlie Watson; 152
24) #88 Josh Berry; 129
25) #19 Cameron Bowen; 88
26) #1g Andrew Grady; 86
27) #21 Mike Darne; 63
28) #29 Paul Williamson; 63
29) #2 Myatt Snider; 62
30) #28 Jason Barnes; 49
31) #12 Austin Thaxton; 34

Bradley McCaskill Sets The Pace In The Limited Late Model Finale Saturday Night

Bradley McCaskill celebrates in victory lane after winning Saturday nights Limited Late Model feature with car owner, mom, and crew. (Justin Kern/

Bradley McCaskill celebrates in victory lane after winning Saturday nights Limited Late Model feature with car owner, mom, and crew. (Justin Kern/

Lucama, NC – It was Bradley McCaskill’s race from start to finish in Saturday nights 75 lap Mini’s Mission “Burn Rubber to Help Another” Limited Late Model feature. McCaskill, 27 from Knightdale, North Carolina, was second fastest earlier in the afternoon only to Alex Fleming. McCaskill and Fleming would be the pair to watch for most of the evening, as the two were in a league of their own.

“We got a great jump there at the start and got the lead,” McCaskill said after the race. “Our plan was to get up there and kind of set the pace and do what we need to do to save tires. Alex definitely ran us a lot harder than we anticipated and pushed me a lot harder than I wanted to go. I think he hurt his stuff there a little to much and we ended up getting back by him.”

Give credit to Alex Fleming, who will look to start his Super Late Model Sunday afternoon, for keeping young Bradley McCaskill honest all race long. The first half of the race Fleming applied plenty of pressure to the leader until he was able to get under and around McCaskill and even hold off an attempted cross over move. Fleming would hang onto the lead for about ten laps when McCaskill decided it was time to go and regained his spot at the top of the leader board with twenty-four laps to go.

Once he got around Fleming there it was nothing more than navigating his way through some lap traffic and staying smooth. Behind them was also some great racing for the final positions within the top five as well. Karl Budzevski, driver of the #26 was practically in a league of his own while Kenneth Mercer & Tim Allensworth had some fun.

It was clear by the end of the race that McCaskill had the car to beat Saturday night. In the car that won the 2016 Ronnie Barnnett Memorial at East Carolina Motor Speedway with Louis White behind the wheel, we asked Bradley if the cold weather had anything to do with the teams strategy going into the 75-lap feature.

“I think that’s where we had a little bit of an advantage,” said McCaskill. “The track gripped up a little more than I anticipated, I thought we were going a little to hard there for the track temperature but I guess it had a little bit more grip in it than I thought.”

Bradley went on to tell us that he might make the needed changes on the car and start the Late Model Stock race that will roll off the grid approx. 2:00 PM Sunday afternoon. Telling us that car owner Louis White said he could drive it if he wanted to. Grandstands are set to open Sunday morning around 9:45 AM with an on track driver autograph session scheduled for 10:15 – 11:30 AM. Pre race ceremonies should kick off at 11:45 followed by the green flag for the Super Late Model feature at 12:01 PM.


Mini’s Mission 75 Results
1) #7 Bradley McCaskill
2) #05 Alex Fleming
3) #26 Karl Budzevski
4) #24 Kenneth Mercer
5) #21 Tim Allensworth
6) #24 Colin Garrett
7) #M3 Shelton McNair, Jr.
8)  #87 Mini Tyrell
9)  #61 Michael O’Brien
10) #00 David West
11) #21 Gerald Benton
12.) #29 Bian Obiedzenski
13) #31 Wayne Goss
14) #82 Mike Ganoe
15) #91 Chris Elliott
16) #28 Justin Gill
17) #07 Ronald Renfrow

Robbie Babb Dominates Renfrow Heating and Air Modified Feature

Robbie Babb dominates 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. Celebrates in victory lane with brother Jimmy Babb. (Justin Kern/

Robbie Babb dominates 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. Celebrates in victory lane with brother Jimmy Babb. (Justin Kern/

Lucama, NC – Modifieds… small wheelbase, small tires but big motors! A division that I have grown to fall in love with through the three years of covering short track racing. Twelve cars qualified for this years event, a record high since the inception of the race, and quite honestly on of the largest car counts of the entire season. Southside Speedway’s Kyle Wood was actually the fastest earlier in the afternoon during euro style qualifying laying down a lap of 16.023 seconds or 89.871 mph.

Babb however had other plans once it was time to go racing. Kyle Wood led the field into one where drivers were very careful with the throttle working to get through the first lap. With just a little more experience with the rack and weather conditions that Wood, Robbie Babb was able to clear the #19 out of two and that was all Babb needed and immediately worked on opening up a comfortable lead.

Some good racing took place in Babb’s rear view mirror with Jimmy Humblet working his way through the field. Tyler Davis, who also made the trip from Southside Speedway was looking to make moves around the 2016 Dominion Raceway champ Chris Humblet for the fourth position. The race was only slowed by one caution period for debris in what looked to be turn four right after the #5 of Webb pulled off the racing surface.

When it was time to get back to racing Kyle Wood made sure to give Babb a run for his money as the field sailed through turns one and two. Babb however was able to take the lead back down the backstretch. Matt Carter used the restart to his advantage and took the third spot away and immediately pushed for second. As the laps clicked off Carter inched closer and closer to Woods nerf bar and would have possibly been able to take the second position had he had just a few more laps.

“This was a last minute decision that we were even going to come,” Babb said in victory lane. “Been dealing with work and some family stuff but we were able to put everything back together in a week. Dealing with the used tires and only coming here once a year is a bit of a learning curve, we just tried to stress that to some of the other guys. Give it some time and some laps to get the car under your feet.”

Each year the Thanksgiving Classic is going to provide one constant – cold weather. This of course helps horsepower but hurts grip as it takes tires longer to warm up. We asked Babb if running The Classic in the past was that much of help in tonights victory.

“Well I am getting old so this cold weather kind of helps us,” Babb laughed in victory lane. “The motors run real good but on the flip side to that in this cold weather your tires don’t heat up like they should so you deal with some grip problems, other than that it was a good show.”


Renfrow Heating & Air – 40 Laps

1) #44 Robbie Babb
2) #19 Kyle Wood
3) #78 Matt Carter
4) #77 Hunter Slayton
5) #11 Jimmy Humblet
6) #60 Bobby Geary
7) #00 Tyler Davis
8) #20 Chris Humblet
9) #15 Andrew Fortin
10) #17 Jamie Walmock
11) #5 JR Webb
12) #12 Tim Maxey

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