Tyler Matthews captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina state title last season in his second full season driving Late Models, a title that came as a surprise to not only fans, but also to Matthews himself.
Matthews finished 12th in NWAAS national points and won the track championship at Southern National Motorsports Park. He also finished second in points at East Carolina Motorsports Park (NC). He accumulated four wins over the course of a 34-race campaign and narrowly beat out Brenden Queen for the state title by a margin of only two points at season’s end.
“After winning rookie of the year last year we joked around about a state title. This only being my second year running LMSC it was awesome to win it,” Matthews told Speed51.com. “It was closer than I would have liked it to be. We won by two points, that’s only one position.”
Matthews, however could have lost the title during the summer months.
“We hit a slump in the middle of the season where we would have a fast car in qualifying but just couldn’t put the races together,” he explained. “We tested a couple weeks in a row with Wes Burton and he put us back on track to make that strong run at the end of the season to win the championship.”
Matthews enters 2017 optimistic but wanting more, the team will be traveling around more and possibly chasing a national title in their third season.
“We are planning to travel around this year. I’m not sure if you would say it’s to chase a national title,” he stated. “We are planning on Myrtle Beach in a couple of weeks. We are going to take it one race at a time and see where we end up at the end of the year.
“We just want to win races. You must go out and win races all year long. You will be there in the end if you can do that.”
That will be the goal for Matthews who will be opening his season at the Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach on February 10-11 as he chases what he hopes will be another successful season and a possible improvement on his finish in the 2016 NWAAS national points standings.
-By Reese Nobles, Speed51.com Mid-Atlantic Correspondent – Twitter: @RNoblesSpeed51
-Photo credit: Captured Moments Photography by Jennifer Brown