Louis White Wins Second Ronnie Barnett Memorial at East Carolina Motor Speedway
By: Justin Kern
Robersonville, NC – The 2016 season once again comes to a close at East Carolina Motor Speedway with the track and drivers honoring one of their very own, in the third running of the Ronnie Barnett Memorial race. A 100-lap feature to decide the closest points battle since East Carolina started running the NASCAR banner. Louis White entered the weekend just eight points behind Queen after a less than mediocre finish last Sunday.
You couldn’t have written it any better after qualifying. Louis posting the second fastest time of the afternoon right behind the man he would be racing for the title. Queen would lay down the fastest time of the afternoon with a 15.330 – just eight one hundredths of a second better than White. Thomas Burbage, Paul Williamson and Tyler Matthews would round out the starting five of the eleven-car field.
When it was time to go racing things played out a lot different than anticipated from the week leading up to the season finale. Though the lead did change early in often the pace of the race certainly was different from weeks prior, mainly because this past weekends feature was 100 laps instead of the typical 40.
White would lead the race early and then handed things over to Burbage for a few laps has the field started to settle in and find a rhythm. Did not take long for White to catch back up to the bumper of Burbage and make the move around him to regain his position atop of the leader board.
“Our car was really good tonight.” White said after the race. “I was just going to follow Burbage for a while and ride but he wasn’t running the pace I wanted to run. I was afraid if the caution came out we would be stuck there on the outside. That’s what happened to us last weekend, a couple restarts and we were on the outside and got turned. I made the
decision to pass Burbage back and set the pace myself. I actually wasn’t running the car that hard, just trying has hard as I could not to spin the tires just in case more came down to get those new tires.”
A call that ended up working out for them as the cautions did start to fall with the first coming on lap 71. Ryan Haddock ended up looping his car out of four. Did a great job at keeping it off the wall and off the other drivers. With this giving the field the time to catch back up and with caution laps not counting, they were able to hit pit road for adjustments or, by the rules of the evening, a newer tire.
With East Carolina running a two tire rule, two new and two scuffs, the track gave the teams a third scuff tire, a total of five tires, to do with what ever they wished during the race. Tyler Matthews was the first to take the gamble and hit pit road for a newer right front. As the old saying goes, cautions bread cautions, and just about the entire field came down pit road with the exception of White and Queen all for the same common goal, a newer right rear tire.
“I seen some of them coming in and changing right rear tires,” White explained when asked if that was ever in the play bok for the night. “We actually debated earlier to keep our good tire and do the same but as the race got going and you’re out there leading its really hard to come in.”
With track position being key at a place like East Carolina Louis White decided to stay on track and use his experience to battle through the restarts the multiple restarts there late to land in victory lane one last time before the 2016 season came to a close.
“I won the first Ronnie Barnett race here and now we won this one, I am just tickled to death and congrats to Brenden on the win,” said White. He and Queen had there fair share of time together this season while putting on one heck of a show for the fans along with bringing a lot of attention to the high bank .375-mile oval located in Robersonville.
“Me and him [Queen] have been racing each other hard all year lets just say that,” White told us after the race. “I knew the only chance we had had tonight was to win the race and the 03 have some kind of issue for us to win the championship. With the week we had last week I was just hopping at the end of the day I could win the race and if he won the championship we could celebrate together. For him to win the championship and I win the race, I am good with that.”
With the 2016 regular season coming to an end Louis is going to take the car back to the shop and take a much-needed rest. In the past week alone he and the guys have had to lay a new body on the car, replace the rear end and even drop a new motor. We asked him if he had any plans to travel to some of these bigger races coming up and he let us know they will decide what to do in the coming weeks.
Louis has also told us many times in victory lane this year he wanted to win the championship one final time at East Carolina before hanging up the helmet. With falling just short of that goal this year we asked him if we would see him around next year. The driver gave us a little smile and spoke very honestly when saying he wasn’t sure and time would tell.
1 #7 Louis White; 100
2 #03 Brenden Queen; 100
3 #63 Tyler Matthews; 100
4 #12s Dean Shiflett; 100
5 #12j Wesley Johnson; 100
6 #33 Ryan Haddock; 100
7 #01 Jeff Shiflett; 100
8 #5 Paul Williamson; 100
9 #25 Kenneth Mercer; 100
10 #9 Thomas Burbage; 100
11 #29 Melvin Langley; 22