Brenden Queen took the lead on a restart with 14 to go, then held off the field through a series of wild restarts in the final laps to win the Blake Morris 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The Late Model Stock competitor from Virginia led early in the event, but had to make a late-race charge to the front to finish where he started in the 200-lap race.
In five previous starts at the real-life paperclip, “Butterbean” scored a best finish of seventh in his Valleystar Credit Union 300 debut in 2013. While Saturday’s race took place in the virtual world, the virtual grandfather clock meant just as much.
“This is probably the biggest win of my iRacing career to date and I just told people on my stream you don’t understand the amount of preparation that went into this race and the admins,” Queen said on the broadcast. “I might not have won the real clock but this clock will do.”
Queen started on the pole for the race, but admitted the majority of the race was a struggle as he tried to get a handle of his No.03.
“I knew early on in practice that we weren’t quite where I wanted to be. Last night with the fixed setup I was a little bit better probably and today we were a little off. I qualified decent and led from the start. I definitely wanted to redeem myself from last night because we thought we had that one, I think I’d rather win this one than that one.”
A frequent competitor of Blake Morris’s father, five-time NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Champion Philip Morris on the Virginia Late Model Stock scene, Queen had a message for he and his family after the race.
“We’re getting excitement out of this and I can only imagine what Philip is going through, along with his family. I don’t know if he’ll see this or if he’s listening but I dedicate this win to Blake. I raced with Philip quite a bit at Langley and all over. This is huge because it’s not only an iRacing race or a memorial race, everybody in the racing community came together to try to make this race and to make it big. Thoughts and prayers to Philip and his whole family and I hope he got a little bit of a smile out of seeing guys racing in memory of Blake today.”
NASCAR Drive for Diversity participant Rajah Caruth skated through several incidents in the final laps to finish second. After an eventful 200 laps which saw him lose a lap early, he was hoping for a longer run to the end so he could have a shot at Queen.
“It was an up-and-down race, qualified pretty good then getting wrecked and moved out of the way and such. Having to come back from a lap down,” said Caruth. “With ten to go I was really hoping we could go green to the end. Prayers out to the Morris family, that’s what it was all about.”
Mason Bailey, TJ Rich, and Seth Dameron rounded out the top five.
Click here to watch a replay of Saturday’s Blake Morris 200 at Martinsville.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3