JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Brenden Queen extended his record at New River All-American Speedway to 2-0 on Saturday evening.
After earning a victory in New River’s prestigious Battle of the Stars in March, Queen executed the tire conservation strategy flawlessly in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour Carolina 125 pres. by Milam Equipment Rentals to secure his second victory in his rookie season with the series.
Bringing home that win was far from a smooth experience for Queen, who had to survive a late-race restart and a valiant charge by veteran Ronnie Bassett Jr. to celebrate with his Lee Pulliam Performance crew once again.
Brenden Queen relieved to claim another CARS Tour win
For as efficient as Brenden Queen has been with Lee Pulliam Performance, they only had one CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour win to show for those efforts prior to Saturday.
Queen was worried another CARS LMSC Tour victory would elude him when he saw Ronnie Bassett Jr. dive underneath him in Turn 3 on the last lap. Despite getting knocked out of the groove by Bassett, Queen held onto his car and still came across the start-finish line in first.
“I knew it was coming,” Queen said of Bassett’s move. “[Bassett] was just a little bit better than us at the end. It felt like I went a little hard early, but I knew track position was going to be so big tonight. We’ve had so many of these races slip away and I wasn’t going to let them take it away from me that time. We’ve been hungry and I wanted it bad.”
The last time Queen visited Victory Lane in the LMSC Tour came at North Wilkesboro Speedway in May, where he led 67 of 125 laps.
Queen has endured many close calls since that triumph. He narrowly lost to Bobby McCarty in a photo finish at Dominion Raceway, all while a dominant performance by Queen in the Old North State Nationals at Tri-County Motor Speedway was derailed when he ran out of fuel in the closing laps.
There have been many stressful nights for Queen in the LMSC Tour, but one constant has been the hard work put in by everyone at Pulliam’s team. The hard work put in by each member only motivated Queen further to deliver them a second LMSC Tour victory, which he was relieved to finally achieve at New River on Saturday.
“This is big,” Queen said. “There’s so many nights where we led a lot of laps. Nobody is going to outwork Lee Pulliam. He asks me every week what I need to win and then he goes to work on it. This whole organization is amazing, and I’ve got to thank all the guys that helped me tonight, but there’s too many to name.”
Conner Jones comes one spot short of second career victory
With five laps to go in the Carolina 125 pres. by Milam Equipment Rentals, Conner Jones appeared poised to obtain his second CARS LMSC Tour victory.
An ill-timed caution and a poor restart caused Jones to lose control of the lead and end up settling for second. The Fredericksburg, Virginia native expressed disappointment over the yellow flag putting him in an unfavorable position against Brenden Queen, who had been more conservative earlier in the race.
“I knew I had to get a good restart,” Jones said. “My spotter was telling me all of Butterbean’s times compared to mine and I knew he was going to be pretty good. Obviously we didn’t need the caution and it screwed our race up, but Mike Darne brought us a really good car. We just burned it up towards the end.”
Despite being unable to close out the win on Saturday, Jones’ performance was a highlight on an inconsistent 2023 LMSC Tour season.
After finishing fourth at another abrasive track in Florence Motor Speedway in March, Jones had not recorded another Top 5 in his following five starts prior to arriving at New River All-American Speedway. That stretch also saw him depart R&S Race Cars and move to Mike Darne Racing starting in the Old North State Nationals.
Jones’ second appearance with Darne resulted in his best LMSC Tour race since taking home his first checkered flag at Tri-County Motor Speedway last year. Being able to lead laps at New River is a precedent Jones hopes to carry with him through his remaining Late Model Stock races in 2023.
Along with his planned LMSC Tour events, Jones will be staying busy behind the wheel with his commitments in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Hail Mary from Ronnie Bassett Jr. does not result in a victory
All that stood in the way of Ronnie Bassett Jr.’s first CARS LMSC Tour victory on Saturday evening was Brenden Queen.
With Queen leaving the bottom slightly open on the final lap, Bassett attempted to fill that hole so he could power to the lead coming off Turn 4. The maneuver backfired and Bassett ran both cars up the track, which relegated him to third while Queen celebrated the victory.
“We had a really good car there at the end,” Bassett said. “These guys did a heck of a job all weekend. We planned to be there at the end of the race, but we came up short. It’s on me and I got a little too desperate. We’ve got to clean that up, but all in all it was a good weekend.”
Bassett’s near miss in the Carolina 125 pres. by Milam Equipment Rentals at New River All-American Speedway was another step in the right direction for his program.
Since the end of July, Bassett has not recorded an LMSC Tour finish worse than sixth. With two consecutive third place finishes at high-grip tracks like Tri-County Motor Speedway and Wake County Speedway, Bassett felt optimistic that running on a more abrasive surface like New River’s would give him his best shot at that elusive first LMSC Tour win.
The speed Bassett had from the past several races carried over into New River, as he raced his way towards the front after being patient with tire conservation. The final sprint to the finish gave Bassett plenty of chances at Queen, but he could not generate the necessary run to make a race-winning pass.
Bassett knows his first Late Model Stock win in a decade is coming. He plans to regroup from his near-miss at New River and focus on maintaining his momentum into the fall.
The CARS LMSC Tour will be off for the next month as teams prepare to tackle the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway on Sept. 23. South Boston Speedway is the next race up for both the LMSC and PLM Tour, which will take place on Oct. 7.
FloRacing will provide coverage of all the on-track action.
For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.
Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in
Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
- 03 Brenden Queen
- 44 Conner Jones
- 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr.
- 24 Mason Diaz
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 10 Kaden Honeycutt
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 08 Deac McCaskill
- 15 Ryan Millington
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 6 Bobby McCarty
- 81 Mini Tyrrell
- 8B Chase Burrow
- 1 Andrew Grady -1
- 22 Landon Huffman -1
- 4 Dylon Wilson -1
- 15C Logan Clark -1
- 67 Cameron Bolin -1
- 19B Chris Burns -1