Bobbie Tumbleston III entered this weekend’s New Year’s Bash at Dillon Motor Speedway with one goal in mind – beat five-time race winner Gary Ledbetter Jr. and win the race. He did all that and more Sunday evening, leading all 111 laps from the pole to keep the winner’s trophy in the Palmetto State.
It was a race he’d been trying to win for several years, with no luck. Among his results in the New Year’s Bash included a disqualification in 2015, and a previous best finish of third in 2019. Tumbleston broke through in a big way Sunday evening, dominating the Street Stock crown jewel.
With the win, he was also able to kick a unique monkey off his back.
“A lot of people don’t understand what this win means to me. It’s the biggest win of my career. First, I’ve got to thank the good Lord,” Tumbleston said on the Speed51.TV broadcast. “I’ve said numerous prayers to come and be able to win this race. I’ve been trying this for six or seven years.
“I’m speechless, I don’t have any words for this. I’ve been chasing a trophy check since I was 12 years old. I had never got one, I’ve always said a trophy check is a jinx because every time I go to a racetrack that has a trophy check, something happens. I break something, I wreck, something, I never thought I’d win a trophy check.”
The win holds extra meaning for Tumbleston, whose dad is currently fighting COVID-19 and was unable to make it to Dillon for the race.
“My daddy’s not here right now because of COVID, he’s been sick and in the hospital. The only thing that would make this even more special is if he was here.”
Ledbetter was caught in a battle for second with Austin Somero in the final laps of Sunday’s event, but neither driver would finish the race after the two made contact on the backstretch and climbed the outside wall with three laps to go.
While both drivers were disappointed with how the race ended, there were no hard feelings between the two.
“That was just hard racing. When we came off two there I got a little bit sideways and he got under me,” said Ledbetter. “As I was trying to catch it he came up and we touched and we went all over the wall and started crashing from there.”
“I came off the corner real low and we were going down the backstretch. All the sudden I was hooked and we were going into the wall,” stated Somero. “I didn’t really see what happened but I got told by many people and my spotter that he was chasing it up the wall and he came down and hooked me. It was a racing accident, it happens but it sucks anyway.”
Ledbetter and Somero’s entanglement helped former New Year’s Bash winner Ricky Locklair Jr. finish second after an eventful afternoon. The Darlington, SC driver had to drive back through the field after a spin just before the halfway point of the race, scoring his best finish in the event since he won it back in 2018.
“I was trying to get there. That’s a heck of a car and he’s a good driver. We went to the back after a spin early in the race. We made some changes there at the halfway break and they definitely worked, it just wasn’t good enough. We worked our way back up and lucked up and finished second.”
Wayne Locklair finished just behind his cousin in third. Local favorite AJ Hyatt and former Halloween 200 winner Frankie Kimmel rounded out the top-five.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo