The Brandon Ford Wheelman Series put a stamp on the 2019 season Saturday night during the season-ending banquet at Huntington Hills Golf and Country Club. In addition to crowning the “One Track Wonder” Patrick Thomas as champion, many other drivers and partners were honored throughout the night.
For Thomas, the night allowed him to reflect on the great season that his team enjoyed on the way to claiming his first championship.
“It feels great. Kind of a dream,” Thomas told Speed51. “We weren’t even running this thing and just really got fortunate. We had a bunch of good races and had a really good racecar for a while, it fell off during the middle of the summer where we just weren’t that good. But we made some strides, found some speed, and really got fast again at the end of the year. We just put it all together and stayed out of trouble as much as anything.
“I’ve accepted awards at NASCAR banquets in the Carolinas when you’re racing against people you don’t know, against people from all over the country there,” Thomas continued. “This is the best of the best racing in the class I’m racing in week in and week out. To beat these guys was way more difficult than I gave it credit for going into it. I really thought honestly that we were going to have a little easier time. I was going to win some more races. We had a great plan. We thought everything was going as planned when we went to the first race and win. But the competition level in this series is out of this world. It’s so good. Everybody is so good. It’s tough. But it’s amazing to say the first year we ran it we won the championship.”
While Thomas won the series championship, he indicated that he won’t be returning for a full season in 2020, as he develops a racing program for the next generation of Thomas’.
“We actually sold this car. It’s got a new home,” he said. “We have a car that we’re looking into turning into a sportsman car, but we’re not going to do it right off the bat. My 12-year-old son and I bought a little car to run on dirt a little bit. He’s a couple of years away from probably starting racing and I’m going to go out and try to have a little fun for a little bit, no pressure racing, and slide it sideways a little bit. We will run some sportsman races once we convert the other car. I’m sure we’ll make a couple.”
Henley Racing driver Rex Struble finished second in season points and will look to finish one spot higher in 2020.
“It’s awesome to finish second with this group of guys,” Struble said. “I mean, everybody out there is competitive. It’s a tough series to finish up front. It’s awesome, a lot of fun, and I hope to do it again next year.”
Long-time Florida Sportsman racer J.R. Beckner finished third on the year, his first full season in Wheelman competition.
“It feels great to run third,” Beckner stated. “We didn’t win the championship but it feels like we did. I have a great time racing with all these guys. They’re all true racers and I plan on coming back and running the full season next year with the Wheelman Series. Hopefully we get a few more wins next year and some top five finishes.”
With Beckner taking third, Rookie of the Year honors belonged to long-time Citrus County Speedway racer Dillon Sivils and his No. 32 team.
“It’s definitely means a lot to us,” Sivils exclaimed. “It shows we made a name for ourselves in our first year with the Wheelman Series. I think that’s something to remember us by. We were looking for champion of the year, but our track record is fourth in the season and then champion of the season so hopefully we can keep that record going. It was a lot of fun. It showed that it was a good choice to go with the Wheelman Series. They definitely gave us a run for our money and you definitely work to be the rookie of the year. It’s some of the best racing experience a new driver can get on the track.”
With the 2019 Brandon Ford Wheelman Series Season in the books, the field prepares to take the trip to Citrus County Speedway where the 2020 season will kick off on February 29.
Fans of the Brandon Ford Wheelman Series can check out their Facebook page for constant updates on the 2020 season, as well as Speed51 for broadcast announcements.
- Story by Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com National Correspondent - Twitter: @AJorgensen24
- Photo credit: Speed51