Brenden Queen Leads Every Lap to First Career Late Model Sweep at East Carolina Motor Speedway
By: Justin Kern
Robersonville, NC – Starting on the front row of any race is never a bad thing. However, like the quote says, “It’s not about where you start – it’s where you finish that counts.” Well finishing on the front row in both of your races isn’t all that bad either! Brenden Queen – of Chesapeake, VA – who has really turned up the wick so to speak with his Late Model program earned his third and fourth wins of his career this past Saturday at East Carolina Motor Speedway. Queen did it in somewhat dominating fashion as he started from the pole in both sets of twin 40- lap features and lead every lap from start to finish.
“This is just great,” Queen said in victory lane after the race. “This is the first time sweeping a late model race and the first time since October 16, 2011 in the Legend cars out at Southside Speedway.”
Queen entered the weekend coming off of a frustrating weekend at South Boston where he struggled with the handling of the car all weekend. That was not the case however this time around. Staying close to if not at the top of the speed charts all afternoon in the blazing heat, Queen was the only driver of the sixteen who took times to break into the 15.4-second bracket, doing so in both laps. Trying something just a little bit different than most tracks, Race Director Dalford Briley, takes the drivers best lap and uses that to set the field for the first race then uses the next best lap for the starting position for race two. Creating a little bit of a different strategy and in our opinion, setting up what feels like two separate races.
The first race got off to what looked like was going to be an interesting start as the field did not make it all the way around to the stripe before the yellow flag had to be displayed. Thomas Burbage, who was finally back in his #9 Oak Ridge Metals Chevy, went for a little spin out of four and coming to a halt just before the row of tires protecting pit wall.
From our vantage point in the tower we couldn’t really get a good look if he had help from Fose who was behind him because the field was so tightly bunched. Either way, Burbage did a great job keeping the car off the wall and because it was a complete restart, race control gave him his position back.
Took a few laps for cars to get settled and air pressure to really come up. For some, Justin Carroll, Thomas Burbage, and Louis White they were able to make up position on the track fast. For others, like Tyler Matthews, who entered the evening leading North Carolina state points got hung out to dry on the outside line and lost several positions right off the bat. He would eventually settle into the seventh position and ultimately finish there as well behind the three other drivers battling for North Carolina Points.
The biggest mover of the race was none other than Louis White. After starting seventh on the grid just a tenth off the pace, White made the move around Carroll as they exited four to take the third spot away. Just as he did the battle for the lead started to take shape with Bowling taking glances both high and low on Queen – just what Louis White needed to see.
Queen and Bowling were hooked up just like a train almost. Bowling peaking his nose every chance he could get but could not make a move – it also didnt help that Queen made little to no mistakes and picked through the lap traffic with ease. All of that however would go out the window when the field was slowed down on lap 37 for a spin in turn three. Malik Koonce, who had a pretty phenomenal save in front of the leaders the lap or two before, ended up facing nose first into the turn three wall. Did not see what happened to cause it we just know he was pretty loose the lap leading up to it.
On the ensuing double file restart – remember East Carolina does not use the cone rule – Queen decided to restart the race at the first line just as soon as he was allowed. Clearing Bowling out of two and the battle was on for second. Louis White was able to pull to the inside of Bowling with two laps to go. Almost making it three wide down the narrow front stretch Louis White was able to get around Bowling and leave the door open for Carroll. Pulling up to the bumper of Queen with just one lap to go Louis feel about a lap shy of being able to make it one heck of a battle coming to the stripe and would have to settle for second. Justin Carroll, Matt Bowling and Thomas Burbage rounded out the top five.
Race number two on the night saw a pair Hampton Roads boys on the front row in Brenden Queen & Justin Carroll – which by the way was Carroll’s best career start in a Late Model Stock. From the drop of the green flag Queen got back to his normal ways, hitting every mark and controlling the pace of the race. Carroll, however, did a great job in staying right there with him and keeping him honest.
A great battle for position behind them two would take place with Tyler Matthews, Michael Fose and National points leader Matt Bowling with Matthews coming out on top for the time being. Fose and Bowling would spend the next couple laps battling it out door to door with Bowling making the high side work pretty decent. That would kind of hold up both Thomas Burbage and Louis White who started sixth and seventh respectfully. After a couple laps Bowling thought otherwise of the high line and using his car up and gave the position to Fose immediately tucking in behind him.
Things got really interesting just past the halfway mark when Michael Fose (#54) finally caught Matthews going into one with twenty-two laps on the board. Fose not only caught him but gave him a shot that sent Matthews way up the hill. Needless to say Matthews would have no choice but to chase his car up the track losing two position in the mean time. Not but a few laps later Burbage and White make contact exiting two that get the cars a little “slideways” as they say. Both drivers able to gather their machines back up with Burbage coming out with the advantage.
With only a few lap cars to deal with and a decent three maybe four car advantage over Carroll, Brenden Queen was able to complete the sweep and lead every lap of the night on his way to his fourth career Late Model win. Justin Carroll would better his finishing position by one to earn his career best finish of second on the night. Michael Fose, Matt Bowling and Tyler Matthews would round out the top five.
“Matt Bowling is certainly a name that comes to mind when you think if I want to win a race I want to beat him,” Queen told The Weekly Racer. “It’s guys like Matt Bowling, Lee Pulliam, Payton Sellers, Phillip Morris can win just about anywhere they go. To see Bowling down here you know it’s a big deal but I feel like we are in the same boat as them this year chasing national points. For him to come here I knew it was going to be tough and he challenged me in the first race. He did what he had to do to try to get under me for the win but we were able to hold him off. I feel like it was a huge win and a huge step in momentum to beat someone of that caliber.”
The momentum was big for the team and Queen proved that again in race two after setting a steady pace and leading every lap again.
“To back that up in the second race and just kind of cruise there felt great,” Queen said. “Phil [Warren] was telling me we were keeping a good five cars on Justin [Carroll] so I just tried to stay right there and let the car Rolland save a little bit.”
Queens effort on the track will give him sole possession of the track points, which he entered the weekend tied with Louis White, and could possibly hand the North Carolina lead over as well. The two wins in the full field will certainly help gain ground in the national standings for Queen Motorsports.
“You know anything can happen with these twins, you have one bad night, like I proved last time out , and everything is different,” Queen said. “It’s like my crew chief tells me, winning races takes care of the points, if your winning you can’t lose any points. Your not going to win a national or a state championship without wins.”
Queen looks to return to action this coming weekend at Southern National as the team looks to lock down the state title. Action will return to East Carokina Motor Speedway July 30th for yet another set of Twin Late Model races. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for more info.
1. #03 Brenden Queen; 40
2. #7 Louis White; 40
3. #91 Justin Carroll; 40
4. #83 Matt Bowling; 40
5. #9 Thomas Burbage; 40
6. #54 Michael Fose; 40
7. #63 Tyler Matthews; 40
8. #12 Dean Shiflett; 40
9. #22 Eric Winslow; 40
10. #01 Jeff Shiflett; 40
11. #88 Thomas Marks; 40
12. #29 Paul Williamson; 40
13. #99 Zach Henshaw; 40
14. #13 Jason Turner; 39
15. #29b Melvin Langley; 39
16. #77 Malik Koonce; 35
17. #03b Cameron Bown; 2
18. #54b Gerald Benton ; 2
#90 Terry Carroll – DNS – Mechanical
1. #03 Brenden Queen; 40
2. #91 Justin Carroll; 40
3. #54 Michael Fose; 40
4. #83 Matt Bowling; 40
5. #63 Tyler Matthews; 40
6. #9 Thomas Burbage; 40
7. #7 Louis White; 40
8. #88 Thomas Marks; 40
9. #01 Jeff Shiflett; 40
10. #22 Eric Winslow; 40
11. #99 Zach Henshaw; 39
12. #12 Dean Shiflett; 39
13. #29 Paul Williamson; 39
14. #13 Jason Turner; 39
15. #29b Melvin Langley; 13
16. #83b Deac McCaskill; 1
17. #77 Malik Koonce; 1
18. #03b Cameron Bowen; 1