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CARS Late Model Stock Tour

Brenden Queen perfect in CARS return to Tri-County

Butterbean had enough gas this time.

Over two months removed from losing $30,000 in the Old North State Nationals in the most excruciating way imaginable, Brenden Queen and the Lee Pulliam Performance No. 02 team came back to Tri-County Motor Speedway and flat out dominated.

Queen led all 125 laps from the pole and could not be touched.

Before the race day began, already thinking ahead to this outcome, Queen told Pulliam and their crew to be ready to climb the catchfence like Stewart or Castroneves. He felt confident and then he ended the night with his obligatory post-race meal at Waffle House.

It was peak Butterbean in the foothills of the North Carolina High Country.

But if not fuel pressure this time, what did Queen worry about over the final 25 laps, when it was so obvious that he was once again the driver to beat in Granite Falls.

“Restarts,” Queen said. “Restarts here are so crazy — dive bombs, door slams. We even had one little contact with (William Sawalich) where I kind of came down and he might have come up.

“I don’t know what happened.

“But I immediately thought, ‘we don’t need no more of that,’ and I prayed, was driving with my fingers crossed on the backside, especially once I’ve started driving for Lee and being in this spot more, because I’m begging for it to stay green.”

It stayed green, with Mason Diaz having to use too much tire to even drive up to second from 15th, and all the drama taking place behind him.

There was a big pile-up with 40 laps to go and was in the back half of the field. Queen even caught a fortunate break when NASCAR Weekly Series champion Connor Hall, who ran second most of the race, had to pit during the pile-up red flag to solve a radiator leak.

Unlike the Old North State Nationals, Queen wouldn’t be denied.

“It feels so good to come back and get that redemption,” Queen said. “We wanted it bad in August and I honestly thought we were going to get it. Things didn’t work out, but that’s racing. Tonight makes up for it.”

Diaz gave it his best shot but ultimately used up his tires in trying to compensate for his subpar qualifying effort.

“I needed more tire,” Diaz said. “Started chattering and got too tight. I just needed, really, to manage the race better be it starting closer to the front or how quickly I made my way through the field.”

All told, a satisfactory night.

“It was a positive evening,” Diaz said. “I wish we were one spot better, but I think we were the only car that drove all the way through the field. We slowly but surely started working our way forward and there’s not a scratch on the car.”

Meanwhile, defending champion and current points leader Carson Kvapil finished 10th to maintain his streak of such finishes this season. It was not enough to clinch the championship however, so Queen gets one more chance to win and have bad luck befall Kvapil at Caraway next month.

“Winning takes care of points,” Queen said. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. One thing is for sure, [Kvapil] didn’t lock it up. We made them go to Caraway and have to sweat. There have been so many good nights and close nights this year, but we’re going to keep digging until it’s over.”

CARS Late Model Stock Tour Blue Ridge 125
Tri County Motor Speedway
October 21 2023

  1. 03 Brenden Queen
  2. 24 Mason Diaz
  3. 22 Landon Huffman
  4. 08 Deac McCaskill
  5. 51N Stephen Nasse
  6. 6 Bobby McCarty
  7. 15 Ryan Millington
  8. 16 Chad McCumbee
  9. 95 Jacob Heafner
  10. 8 Carson Kvapil
  11. 20 Joshua Dickens
  12. 23 Kade Brown
  13. 7W Dylan Ward
  14. 21 Lanie Buice
  15. 57 Connor Zilisch
  16. 81 Mini Tyrrell
  17. 43 William Sawalich
  18. 77 Connor Hall
  19. 8B Chase Burrow
  20. 5C Gio Ruggiero -3
  21. 4 Dylon Wilson -3
  22. 67 Cameron Bolin – OUT
  23. 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr. – OUT
  24. 1 Andrew Grady – OUT
  25. 45A Bryce Applegate – OUT
  26. 15C Logan Clark – OUT
  27. 2 Brandon Pierce – OUT
  28. 51 Timothy Peters – OUT
  29. 09 Riley Gentry – OUT

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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