Lucama, NC – Seven drivers won division championships at Southern National Motorsports Park in 2014 and those seven drivers will be honored for their on-track achievements at the champion’s night banquet in Wilson, North Carolina on Saturday night.
Tommy Lemons, Jr. (Late Model Stock Car), Haley Moody (Limited Late Model), Wayne Goss (Charger), James Stroud (U-CAR), Greg Barnett (Street Stock), Will Bristle (Legends) and Blaise Brinkley (Bandolero) all won the track championship in their respective division at the NASCAR-sanctioned facility. Most of those drivers scored their first championship of any kind.
27-year-old Tommy Lemons, Jr. from Troy, North Carolina scored four wins in car number 27 en route to the championship in the feature division, the Late Model Stock Car division – his first track championship of any kind. Lemons is a veteran in Late Model Stock Car racing. Entering the 2014 season, he had already earned the biggest prize in Late Model racing, the grandfather clock that is awarded to the winner of the MDCU 300 at Martinsville Speedway which he won in 2013.
“It was pretty big to get our first track championship at Southern National with all the history of champions with Jamey [Caudill], Deac [McCaskill] and everyone else there,” Lemons said. “I’d say Martinsville is my career highlight and then the track championship would be right underneath it.”
Lemons is the 12th different driver to win the championship in the Late Model Stock Car division in the 19 seasons the track has raced. He joins names like Denny Hamlin, Scott Riggs, Randy Renfrow, Drew Herring, Jamey Caudill and Deac McCaskill, among others, as Late Model champions.
“It makes it even bigger,” Lemons remarked. “Southern National’s been a proving ground for those guys as long as it’s been open.”
In the Limited Late Model division, it was 19-year-old female rookie sensation Haley Moody from Kinston, North Carolina who shined. Haley is the daughter of the late Jerry Moody, who passed away on November 24, 2013 – two days after she scored her first career Late Model victory in a 50-lap exhibition in South Carolina. Jerry was a longtime car owner at Southern National Motorsports Park, owning cars over the years piloted by Scott Riggs, Jamey Caudill and Matt McCall. Haley’s three wins paved her championship destiny – her first championship of any kind.
“It was the best feeling ever winning my first championship,” Moody stated. “I couldn’t have done it without my crew. They were the best. I couldn’t have asked for any better. I also couldn’t have done it without my family and fans by my side. Just wish my dad would have been here to see it.”
Consistency was the key to winning the championship for 47-year-old competitor Wayne Goss in the Charger division. Goss, who hails from Goldsboro, North Carolina, may have gone winless but he picked up five podium finishes and a string of top-five finishes throughout the season to score his first championship in a hard-fought division.
“I’m happy I won the championship. We worked hard all year, had a good team. The guys never gave up. I think that we will be better this year than last year so that may be a chance to repeat and if it wasn’t for my team, we wouldn’t be where we were.”
49-year-old Greg Barnett from Stantonburg, North Carolina scored seven wins in 2014 to secure the championship in the Street Stock division – his fourth championship in the Street Stock division at Southern National. Prior to this season, Barnett’s last championship had come in 2006 when he won 16 times. Throughout the years, he’s been one of the drivers to beat and 2014 was no different.
“It’s always good to win the championship,” Barnett said. “It’s hard earned no matter when or where you do it at. A championship requires a lot of dedication from a lot of people. There are a lot of people involved in accomplishing that.”
James Stroud, 37, from Lucama, North Carolina picked up the championship in the U-CAR division. The U-CAR division is a more affordable class of racing which was designed for budget racers to compete. Stroud’s U-CAR championship was his first.
“I’m looking forward to the banquet,” Stoud commented. “It’s gratifying to see the results of hard work and determination and also to race with some of the best U-CAR racers around.”
Will Bristle, 15, is a straight-A student in high school. On the track, the Anger, North Carolina teenager is also a championship driver – picking up his first Legends championship with one win on the season in 2014. Bristle teamed up with Dillon Spain, who was the runner-up in the Limited Late Model division, to compete.
“It was a great experience,” Bristle said. “It was my rookie season in Legends this past season and I’m so honored to be the track championship this year with such stiff competition we had out there weekly, especially with the help of Dillon Spain and his team. They helped us a lot.”
Sanford, North Carolina’s Blaise Brinkley, 12, is the youngest of the seven track champions. His championship in the Bandolero division is also not his first. He was 10-years-old when Southern National Motorsports Park reopened in 2012 and, racing the full season, he picked up his first championship that season. The 2014 season saw Brinkley’s score 14 wins in the 15 races the Bandolero division ran.
“It’s pretty special because I’m still a kid and winning a championship’s pretty special to be that young,” Brinkley commented.
For six men, and one very fast woman, reality will set in as they walk across the stage to give their acceptance speeches for those seven drivers are now inscribed in history as championship drivers.
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