On an evening that saw drama, tempers and carnage, Gary Ledbetter, Jr. scored his fifth win in Dillon Motor Speedway's New Year's Bash.
The highlight of the night came after just one lap, when multiple cars were involved in an incident on the front stretch triggered when Wayne Locklair and Ricky Locklair, Sr. spun exiting turn four. Wayne Locklair and David Thomas would then tangle under the caution.
After their cars came to rest, a man climbed over the catchfencing on the frontstretch from the spectator area, entering the race track and confronting Thomas. Dillon County officers quickly pulled the man away from Thomas' car before detaining him and escorting him from the premises.
This was the first of numerous incidents throughout the night, which saw angry drivers, retributions and a tossed HANS device from A.J. Hyatt.
When the dust settled, Ledbetter, Jr. had survived the chaos and tallied another win in the prestigious Street Stock race. The Lexington, North Carolina driver claimed his fifth win the event’s 10th Annual edition Sunday night, surviving an attrition-filled 110-lap feature for the $2,500 win.
The New Year’s Bash is unique with its long-distance format compared to most sprint races for Street Stocks in the region. Ledbetter, Jr. believes that’s part of the reason behind his success in the event.
“The longer laps helps our cars, I think,” Ledbetter, Jr. told Speed51. “It takes a few laps for them to come in, and they stay pretty consistent. You can’t drive over your head. 110 laps, you can’t win it on lap 50, you’ve got to win it on lap 110. It’s worked out for us, and I’ve been in some pretty good cars, too.”
Ledbetter, Jr. took the lead on a lap 35 restart, dominating the rest of the way. However, Ledbetter had to maintain the top spot over several restarts in the caution-filled race.
Those cautions throughout the race also created several opportunities for the opposition to capitalize on a potential mistake for Ledbetter.
“That’s the worst thing when you’ve got a really good car. You don’t ever know what’s going to happen on a restart. You could miss a gear, have other guys get into you. So many things can go wrong. It all went right tonight. Hopefully, we will make it three in a row.”
Averitt Lucas scored a runner-up finish in his first career start in a Street Stock. Typically a Late Model racer, Lucas climbed in the No. 00 typically piloted by Bobby Tumbleston and came away with the second spot.
“Me and Bobby have been friends for a good little while now,” Lucas explained. “I’ve been working on this thing with him and helping him with it. I run Late Models and stuff full-time. He’s been itching for me to get in it and try it.
Lucas passed Kentucky Street Stock standout Chuck Barnes, Jr. in the closing laps to finish second. Given a late-race caution, he believed he could have challenged Ledbetter, Jr. for the win.
“I think we would have had a good shot. I would have liked to have the chance. I think we had something.”
Barnes, Jr. settled for a third-place finish on the night, faring much better than his father who struggled with misfortune and mechanical issues throughout the weekend. Barnes, Jr. tipped his cap to Ledbetter, Jr. on another dominant showing in the New Year’s Bash.
“The guy in the first-place car does a hell of a job every time we come here,” Barnes, Jr. said. “I’m missing something. We’ve got an awesome team and an awesome car. We brought two cars down here this time. My dad didn’t have much luck. We had fun. We gave it all we had. We got up there and ran side-by-side on some restarts and we just didn’t have anything for him, really.”
New Year's Bash Unofficial Results
|1||32||Gary Ledbetter, Jr.|
|3||44||Chuck Barnes, Jr.|
|4||12||Ricky Locklair, Jr.|
|9||4T||Chuck Barnes, Sr.|
|29||50||Ricky Locklair, Sr.|
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo