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Clements to honor former racer Ruffner at Carteret on Sunday

Ruffner, a former racer and car owner, was killed in a car accident on Thursday

Photo submitted by Brandon Clements

PELETIER, NC – Brandon Clements will honor his longtime friend, Chuck Ruffner, in Sunday night’s Bobby Watson Memorial Celebration at Carteret County Speedway.

Clements, 29, from Swansboro, North Carolina, will run car no. 53 in Sunday night’s Late Model feature at Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway, the same car number Ruffner’s cars ran.  Ruffner passed away on Thursday night at the age of 55 after an automobile accident in Swansboro.

“Chuck was like a second father to me,” Clements said.  “We had made a lot of great memories racing together over the years.  I met Chuck in 2007 when we got him started in racing and, over the years, he became family.  I thought a lot about what I could do to honor my friend this weekend and felt like running the number 53 was the best thing we could do.  I have chased that number a lot in Mini-Stock competition and it would mean the world to me to be able to park it in victory lane for my buddy on Sunday and make him proud.”

Clements is the most successful driver in Carteret County Speedway history.  He has more overall feature wins than any other driver at the track and is tied with Chris Burns for most Late Model wins.  He also picked up the victory in the first feature race ever held at Carteret County Speedway – a wild Mini-Stock race on September 6, 2015.

“Winning the first ever race is still one of the highlights of my racing career,” Clements stated.  “To win against some of the best drivers in the country in front of such a huge crowd was amazing.”

The track was opened in 2015 after being under construction for over a decade by former speedway owner and visionary Bobby Day Watson.  Watson passed away in October 2018 and Sunday night’s race, which will be held five years to the day of the speedway’s first race, is being run in his memory.

“Bobby Watson was such a great person and he did so much to make sure everyone had the best place in the country to race,” Clements explained.  “He would go above and beyond for all his racers.  The passion he had for short track racing is unmatched.  He is missed so much and we are going to do our best to pick up the win for both Chuck Ruffner and Bobby Watson this weekend.”

Immediately following Sunday night’s race, Clements will set his sights on the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour 125-lap race set to take place just days later on Saturday, September 12th.  Clements is looking forward to the challenge after running inside the top-five through much of last year’s Solid Rock Carriers 125 before being swept up in an accident.

“We are looking forward to another shot at the CARS Tour,” Clements said.  “I feel like we brought a great car last year but our night was cut short in a late-race wreck.  I truly feel like we will have a car to compete for the win and am looking forward to racing with the best of the best in our backyard.”

The turnaround will be quick for Clements, but he is confident he and crew chief Wendell Davis can convert the car to a race-winning CARS Tour ride with just a few days to work with.

“It will be a little different going from a Limited to a Late Model Stock, but I’m hoping we can keep the car clean this weekend and pick up a win both weeks,” Clements said.  “There are not many changes, just carburetor and tires between Carteret’s rules and CARS Tour rules.”

Sunday night’s Bobby Watson Memorial Celebration will go green at 5pm and will feature racing for 11 divisions – including Late Models, Super Trucks, Street Stocks, Chargers, Mini-Stocks, Bombers, U-CARs, Legends, Jr. Mini Cups, Mini Cups, and Legends.

Marquis comes from St. Charles, Maryland and has a widespread background in journalism, having covered politics in Washington and Maryland as well as nearly every form of auto racing, including NASCAR, IndyCar, AMA Motocross and IHRA Drag Racing. Now living near Emerald Isle, North Carolina, Marquis covers Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models in the Carolinas and Virginia.

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