When the clock struck 11 o’clock at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) Sunday night, Will Burns took the checkered flag in a curfew-shortened Myrtle Beach 400 to add his name to the list of winners in the crown jewel event.
The race, originally schedule at 250 laps, concluded after a lap 225 caution involving Jeff Fultz and Sammy Smith just before the 11:00 p.m. Eastern curfew. Burns was then shown the checkered flag and celebrated the biggest win of his career in victory lane.
The Simpsonville, South Carolina native took the lead for the final time just 10 laps prior, passing Fultz on a restart for the top spot. Burns had been running third at the halfway break before turning up the wick in the second half.
“We had a really good car, especially after the halfway break,” said Burns in victory lane. “I didn’t expect it to end that way. I thought we were going to have to fight for it. I thought we could have. Just a crazy night.”
While Burns was unaware how close the race was to meeting its curfew until just before the final restart, he knew it could come into play after it was discussed in the drivers’ meeting earlier in the day.
“I was told about five minutes before, but I did hear it in the drivers’ meeting. I wasn’t banking on it, but I’m glad it worked out.”
While Myrtle Beach Speedway is known for tire conservation on the abrasive surface around the 0.538-mile oval, Burns said he wasn’t holding much back, especially on restarts.
“We had to go pretty quick there, just to space ourselves out,” explained Burns. “We were riding once everyone stayed together, but on the restarts it was 100 percent for a couple of laps.”
Regardless of the circumstances, Burns is now a winner of the Myrtle Beach 400, joining a prestigious list of victors since Jody Ridley won the inaugural event in 1993.
“To win this, I don’t even know what to say. I didn’t expect it, but now that we’re here, I’m going to soak it in and enjoy it.”
Corey Heim finished second driving for Lee Pulliam Performance, his second-straight runner-up finish in the race after following Chad McCumbee to the finish in 2018. Heim felt he had a shot to compete for the win if the race had continued to the scheduled distance.
“I felt like we had two-tenths on the field. We saved our tires that first half and went hard the last 25. We were doing the same strategy. The field slowed down the second half. I don’t know what they told spotters, but they told us we had 20 minutes left with 40 to go. I knew at that point the field was going to bunch up and self-destruct, and that’s what happened.”
“You can’t help something out of my control. Here we are, second-place second year in a row. I thought we had something for them.”
The final caution of the evening took out a pair of contenders, as Fultz and Sammy Smith were collected in the incident to end the race. Martinsville 300 winner Josh Berry was three-wide with Smith and Corey Heim when contact was made, putting Smith in the wall as well as Fultz when he was clipped by Berry.
Berry felt his move to the inside to create the three-wide scenario was justified at that stage of the race.
“I saw a replay of it. I feel like I got a good restart and waited until we got to the start/finish line to make a move to the inside,” said Berry. “We were told prior to it would be the last restart beasue we were running out of time. I felt like I got a run, went all the way to the bottom. It’s tough being in that situation. In hindsight, I could have not been as aggressive. I feel like I did what I was supposed to do in that situation and we ran out of room.”
Smith disagreed with Berry’s assessment, feeling Berry took his car below the racing surface to force the issue and caused the collision in the process.
“The spotter told me this was the last green flag run,” said Smith. “Everybody lost their minds. Josh Berry took Corey Heim and me three-wide. He was on the rumble strips. I don’t know. He wasn’t going to go anywhere and caused three cars to get wrecked from it.”
Fultz reserved judgment on the incident, pleased with a strong run in a rare appearance in a Late Model Stock Car but disappointed with the ending.
“We just had a good clean start, but we went down in the corner and I was outside the 41 a little bit and was going to fall in behind him. Something happened with Josh, the 78 and the 12, and all hell broke loose.
“I don’t think anybody did anything on purpose. I’m sure Josh got in there, they told us there wasn’t going to be another restart. I don’t know what happened behind me.”
Race fans who missed Sunday’s race can visit @Speed51LM on Twitter to see updates from the event.
Unofficial Results – Myrtle Beach 400
1 41 Will Burns
2 78 Corey Heim
3 88 Josh Berry
4 12 Timothy Peters
5 15 Ryan Millington
6 18 Jason York
7 99 Austin Somero
8 2 Myatt Snider
9 25 Kevin Leicht
10 77 Conner Hall
11 07 Bradley McCaskill
12 95 Sam Yarbrough
13 41 Jamey Caudill
14 16 Matt Linker
15 95 Jacob Heafner
16 12 Austin McDaniel
17 6 BJ Mackey
18 70 Stuart Ricks
19 5 Conner Mosack
20 5 Michael Faulk
21 44 TJ Barron
22 26 Peyton Sellers
23 44 Justin Johnson
24 63 Chris Throckmorton
25 27 Tommy Lemons
26 54 Jeff Fultz
27 12 Sammy Smith
28 2 Matt Leicht
29 94 Jamie Weatherford
30 22 Justin Milliken
31 00 Shane Lee
32 03 Brenden Queen
33 41 Woody Howard
34 17 Bryant Barnhill
35 51 Matt Cox
36 32 Randy Porter
37 20 Chad McCumbee
38 18 David Roberts
39 55 Brian Vause
40 11 Lucas Williams
41 12 Blaise Brinkley
42 61 Justin Hicks
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo