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Michael Tilley Prevails for First Late Model Win at Carteret
Jul 8, 2017 - updated Jul 8th, 2017 6:41am
Web posted by Andy Marquis

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Michael Tilley on track at Carteret County Speedway. (Photo credit: Andy Marquis/Race22.com)

SWANSBORO, NC – Michael Tilley has been in contention for his first career Late Model Stock Car victory all season long, and on Wednesday night, he finally sealed the deal at Carteret County Speedway.

The 27-year-old from Winston Salem, North Carolina took the lead from Jim Kelley early in the first of two Late Model Stock Car races and dominated.  However, he had to survive a handful of restarts to hang on for the win.  He was able to do so, while the primary battle took place for second.

“These people standing here with me, that’s what this is all about,” Tilley said in victory lane.  “These people have made sacrifices.  All the time and work that’s been put in this car.  Thank you to the fans.  It feels good to finally get it.  Words can’t even begin to describe it.”

Tyler Matthews had run in the runner-up spot for much of the race, but was relegated to the fourth spot on a late race restart.  Ahead of him, Chris Burns and Eric Winslow battled for the second spot.  When Burns finally prevailed, Matthews was able to make the pass on Winslow to take the third position.

Winslow, however, would get the last word.

A seven car invert in the second Late Model Stock Car race put former Southern National Motorsports Park champion Haley Moody on the pole.  Moody led the first seven laps before Jim Kelley got around her to take the lead on lap eight. Kelley’s time in the lead would be short lived.

Shortly after Kelley got around Moody, Winslow made the move to get around Kelley and pulled away to score the victory – his second of 2017.

“Glad to get a win,” Winslow said.  “We have been struggling some and running both Carteret and South Boston has been challenging financially and as far as just getting the cars changed over each week.  After South Boston’s last race, we had to build new right front suspension repair some body panels and change a tube in the rear end and it was a challenge to have that car ready after that wreck.  The guys in the shop put a lot of extra time in to make it happen and I’m really thankful they did.

“It’s absolutely awesome to win on a Wednesday night in front of a great crowd.”

Tyler Matthews finished second in the race while Jim Kelley came away with a third place result.  After starting in seventh, Tilley worked his way up to fifth.

Clay Jones, driving for Chuck Ruffner, scored the victory in the Mini Stock feature race in one of the wildest and most spectacular finishes to a race imaginable.

After qualifying was rained out, the field was set by a random draw, forcing the division’s most dominant driver, Brandon Clements, to start from the rear.  Jones took the early lead in the race and dominated for much of the event, but Clements was able to mount a late race challenge.

On the race’s final lap, Clements was able to get to Jones’ inside.  The two drivers traded paint and began beating and banging as they dashed back to the checkered flag.  Both drivers spun on the front straightaway coming across the line backwards, with Jones crossing the line first.

After the race, the two made contact again and, with shades of “One Hot Night”, Jones’ damaged car had to be towed back to the pits despite being victorious.

“Anytime you tear up a racecar, it’s no fun,” Jones said after the race.  “We have two cars battling for the win.  I’m not trying to mess up any cars.  Me and Brandon have been friends for a long time.  If he knew what happened when we touched and it broke the steering, he would have known.  I hate that I tore up a racecar but it is what it is.  I hate that it happened but that’s racing. 

“The steering broke and you don’t have any control and your’e coming to the line, what are you supposed to do, hit the brakes and stop?”

Jones, who typically races in the Late Model division at Wake County Speedway in Raleigh where he has scored six consecutive wins, became the first driver to score wins at Carteret County Speedway in two different divisions.  Prior to his Mini Stock victory on Wednesday, Jones had scored two Late Model wins – one in the inaugural race at Carteret in 2015 and another on Labor Day Weekend one year later.

Zach Lightfoot has had to overcome a lot of adversity in his young racing career, but he finally saw the fruits of his labor when he picked up his first career Legend Car victory.

Last season, Lightfoot, who was diagnosed at an early age with Asperger syndrome, was sidelined for several months with a broken leg after a frightening crash in a race in Northern Virginia.  His long road to recovery finally saw him return to the track in a race at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina back in October.

This season, Lightfoot has teamed up with Dillon Spain Motorsports and the Smithfield, Virginia driver has competed predominantly at Langley Speedway in Virginia.  However, he has also made a handful of starts at Southern National and Carteret County where he has had good results.  On Wednesday night, he was finally able to score a breakthrough victory.

“It was really bad, that wreck [referring to Dominion last year],” Lightfoot said in victory lane.  “I decided to never give up and racing was my passion and I love it and I will do it until the day I die.  I have to overcome a lot with my autism.  I used to have sensory issues when I was little, but that is all gone now thanks to this race car.”

Travis Miller picked up the win in the U-CAR race which was shortened to 25 laps after an accident on lap 13 involving Jonathan Payne.  Payne had to be cut out of the car and transported to a nearby medical center for evaluation.  After being flown to Hanover, he was released on Thursday morning.  Payne said he suffered a concussion, bruised rib, multiple contusions, bruised femur and multiple soft tissue bruising.

Jonathon Belfiore got married on July 2nd and, just three days later, he was celebrating with a honeymoon victory.  Belfiore prevailed in the Street Stock race over James Horner and Brandon Manning.  After the race, the newlywed couple of Jonathan Belfiore and Miranda Belfiore celebrated in victory lane.

“I want to dedicate this to my new wife, Miranda,” Belfiore said.  “We’ve had a rough year and we’re finally getting it straightened out.  We’re coming back, everybody needs to know that.”

The next race at Carteret County Speedway will be held on Saturday, July 8th.  For more information about Carteret County Speedway, visit the track’s website at www.carteretspeedway.com.


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