On a cool night in South Carolina, Jeff Melton blazed past the competition – then melted his tires for the fans.


Jeff Melton scored the victory in the 8th Annual New Year’s Bash Street Stock Nationals at Dillon Motor Speedway (S.C.), holding off Chuck Barnes and Gary Ledbetter, Sr. in the closing laps of a race he called the discipline’s Daytona 500.


“Man, it’s the greatest thing ever,” Melton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Everybody prepares for this race every year, this is the one they want to win.


300x250 51 Network 2017(2)“This is like our Daytona 500,” Melton continued. “It pays the most, you get to run the most laps. They make a big deal out of it for several months. This is the race you want to win.”


Melton qualified eighth in the 31-car feature field, which was set out of 38 cars that made the trip to Dillon, South Carolina. He cruised until the halfway break, then began his charge through the field, going from seventh to third in six laps.


Melton then spent several restarts battling with Gary Ledbetter, Sr., before ultimately trumping him for good on lap 94. Ledbetter spun his tires on that restart, surrendering the second position to Chuck Barnes.


“I had a bad restart there,” Ledbetter, Sr. stated. “Spun the tires and got back to third. If we had run a few more laps green, I might have gotten back. It’s a third-place car, I reckon.”


Barnes was on a charge of his own, after slowing with a flat tire in the second half of the race. He had plenty of speed in the closing laps, but ultimately came up one spot short.


“We just missed the setup a little bit,” Barnes explained. “Whether we had the flat tire or not, we were just a little bit off all weekend. With the rain [shortening practice yesterday], we just weren’t where we wanted to be. We finished second, and that’s about what we were all weekend long, a second-place car.”


Barnes may not have felt like he had enough car to challenge Melton, but that didn’t keep Melton from stressing restart after restart.


“It’s so stressful,” Melton said. “You see that caution, and you just say, ‘No!’ Then you have to do it all over again.”


After scoring the victory, Melton unleashed an impressive burnout on the frontstretch. He started near turn one, smoking his tires towards the start/finish line. After reaching victory lane, he instead turned left, nosing his car against the outside wall to face the fans as he continued his smoky celebration.


“I did that about three years ago when I won one of these races,” Melton said. “Ever since, all the kids in the stands want me to do it every time I win.”


Race fans can watch the full race highlights from the New Year’s Bash now on the Speed51 Network by clicking here.


-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ztevans

-Photo credit: Speed51.com


New Year’s Bash Results

Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) – January 13, 2017

Pos         #             Driver

1              6              Jeff Melton

2              44           Chuck Barnes

3              32           Gary Ledbetter, Sr.

4              00           Bobby Tumbleston

5              2              Dave Trute

6              26           Bryan Thomas

7              56           Wayne Locklair

8              8              Chris Finchario

9              13           Mike Worthington

10           17A        Mike Atwell

11           65           Billy Williams

12           66           Ron Flynn

13           03           John Bennett

14           30           Jason McDowell

15           99W       Greg Peterson

16           99           Austin Someria

17           00C         Jesse Council

18           25           Josh Way

19           50           Ricky Locklair, Sr.

20           75           Sonny Schoffen

21           52           Don Machutta

22           21           Tab Boyd

23           2B           Jim Boyle

24           33E         Kevin Ellis

25           42P         Curtis Peeples

26           07           Mike Cooper

27           7              David Thomas

28           17           Justin Reynolds

29           34           Randy Clark

30           12C         Chuck Ison

31           12L         Ricky Locklair, Jr.

Melton Burns It Down After Winning His Daytona 500