Gary Ledbetter, Jr. started 2019 in dominant fashion, leading from flag to flag to win the New Year’s Bash Street Stock feature at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC).
Ledbetter, Jr. started on the pole for the 109-lap race and quickly established his dominance on the field. Ledbetter, Jr. set the tone throughout the race, all the way to the checkered flag and the $2,500 payday in the marquee event for Street Stocks in the Carolinas against a field of 31 drivers from all over the country.
Ledbetter, Jr. gave most of the credit for his strong performance to his father, Gary Ledbetter, Sr. The elder Ledbetter, who is a well-established racer in his own right, prepared the car still bearing his own name on the windshield banner for his son's victory.
“I’ve got to thank my dad here,” Ledbetter, Jr. said in victory lane. “He prepares this thing in the shop. He works on it all the time, I help him when I can. It’s prepared in the shop, that’s where they’re usually won, at the shop.”
Ledbetter, Jr. is now a four-time winner of the New Year’s Bash and has won numerous Street Stock races at Dillon under the Mid-Atlantic Street Stock (MASS) Championship banner. Ledbetter, Jr. says consistency has been a huge factor of his Dillon success, particularly in the longer New Year’s Bash events.
“I just think being consistent, running consistent lap times, and not wearing your stuff out,” Ledbetter, Jr. said. “The longer race seems to help out.”
Earlier this week, Frankie Kimmel told Speed51.com he hadn’t figured out Dillon Motor Speedway yet. This weekend, Kimmel found some answers and came away with a second-place finish.
“We don’t get to work a lot on the car because we really don’t have a shop,” Kimmel said. “We put a lot of effort in, a lot of help and ideas. I’ve got to thank the guys at Venturini Motorsports, they gave us some ideas on set-up, it definitely helped the car.
“We put our heads together, we made some adjustments during the practice sessions, made our best set of tires,” Kimmel added. “We almost had them. We were a little bit off, but [Ledbetter] was in his own class.”
Chuck Barnes rebounded from an early-race issue to race his way through the field and finish third. Barnes typically brings strong cars to the New Year’s Bash, but this year’s podium finish was one created on perseverance.
“We were just missing something all weekend and just couldn’t find it,” Barnes said. “We threw a couple ‘Hail Mary’s’ at the end, trying to find something. We just had the same old car, just sliding on top of the track.
“It was a good race, the 32 deserved it,” Barnes added. “He was the class of the field, from the green flag in practice, and the 68 was second-fastest. We got lucky because we had to come from the back and make the most of it. We had the best car here the last two years and didn’t win. This time we had a no-handling car and just made the most of it.”
Race fans who missed Sunday’s New Year’s Bash have several opportunities to see all of the action from Dillon Motor Speedway. Premium Members of the Speed51 Video Network can click here to watch an on-demand version of our live broadcast of the event. There will also be an enhanced version of the broadcast, with on-board cameras and more, on MAVTV on February 13.
Lastly, you can click here to visit our Race Day Now updates from the race.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
New Year's Bash Unofficial Results
Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) - January 6, 2019
|23||12L||Ricky Locklair, Jr.|