Race Weekend Central

Counting CARS: 3 Takeaways From Brenden Queen’s Win at Tri-County

HUDSON, N.C.- The zMAX CARS Tour field made their first of two trips to Tri-County Speedway this past Saturday (May 25) night, with both the Late Model Stock Cars and Pro Late Models in action for the Sound Gear 225.

The event marked the first of three on the schedule that will see an increased payout throughout the field, a move made in place of the $30,000 Old North State Nationals Event.

With extra money on the line and a full field of Late Model Stock cars in attendance, there was no shortage of action throughout the night. But through it all, the name “Butterbean” was constant at the top, as Brenden Queen led all 125 laps en route to the $10,000 win.

Butterbean wasn’t the only big story of the night, though. Multiple other drivers enjoyed career nights and drama came early on in the Pro Late Model feature.

Here are three takeaways from the Sound Gear 225 at Tri-County.

A Butterbean Beatdown

Less than a week earlier, an elated Queen climbed from the TRICON Garage No. 1 after finishing fourth in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut. Just six days later he put a beatdown on the best Late Model Stock car drivers in the country.

Leading in to Saturday night, Queen and the No. 03 Lee Pulliam Performance (LPP) team remained winless on the season. The team had brought multiple fast cars to the track, but had little to show for it.

Tri-County was a track Queen and the LPP team had circled on their calendar. Last year Queen had led 94 of 200 laps in the Old North State Nationals at the track before running out of gas. When the series returned later in the fall, he led all 125 laps on his way to a win.

This time around, Butterbean gave us more of the same. He ended a winless streak that dated back to last November’s Thanksgiving Classic.

“Just to know I’m not winless in 2024 is amazing,” Queen said. “It’s not getting any easier, It’s getting harder every week, so you enjoy these like it’s the last one every time.”

Queen laid down a blistering lap in qualifying, clocking in over a tenth of a second faster than second-place Deac McCaskill.

From the drop of the green, Queen was in another league. He quickly pulled away from the rest of the field on every restart for the first two thirds of the race.

See also
ARCA Power Rankings: Andres Perez de Lara's Points Lead Grows to Double Digits

At that point, even with the cautions and restarts, it seemed as though the only thing that could stop the No. 03 was a mechanical failure. And it nearly happened – Queen began to lose his brakes with around 60 laps to go.

That threatened to open the door for Chase Burrow, who had worked his way up to second while staying glued to the bottom of the racetrack. On late restarts Burrow inched closer and closer to the Queen’s rear bumper, peeking to the inside multiple times.

Burrow gave Queen a run for his money, but ultimately the raw pace in the No. 03 could not be matched. Queen pulled away in the final laps, claiming his first CARS Tour win of the season and his first win overall since the Thanksgiving Classic back in November.

While Queen felt like he had the best car all night, he definitely felt the pressure from behind with a failing brake pedal in the closing laps.

“Yeah I lost break pedal like halfway through the race, I had no pedal,” Queen said. “So the restarts were rough on me, Chase did a great job. He was fast, I thought I wouldn’t be able to hold him off with my brake issue. Once I got clear of him I could kind of go back to backing the corner up, but he made me work for it for the first couple laps on a restart”

Queen is generally known as a tire management racer, with past success at tracks with old, abrasive surfaces. But Queen credits his 250-consecutive laps led at Tri-County to the track’s similarities with dirt tracks.

“I think how you move around like a dirt car here is what helps,” Queen said. “Chase Burrow races dirt cars too and he ran second. So I think the dirt racers really run good at this place because you’ve got to run the top and then back to the bottom. It’s kind of like Friday night at a dirt track.”

The Tri-County result gets the winless monkey off the back of the No. 03 team. But more importantly, it puts them right back in the championship battle – particularly with title threats Connor Hall, Carson Kvapil and Bobby McCarty all having rough nights at Tri-County.

Next up on the schedule are Langley Speedway and Dominion Raceway, tracks Queen knows well with his Virginia roots. Don’t be surprised if Butterbean is celebrating wins at more Waffle Houses in the near future.

Good Runs For the Underdogs

While Butterbean may have had the dominant car, the two biggest stories of the night were arguably Burrow and Andrew Grady.

Both drivers have struggled over the course of the past two seasons, desperately looking to turn their luck around in 2024. Saturday night at Tri-County, the pair earned the good runs they’ve been desperately looking for. Burrow brought his No. 00 home in second, while Grady finished just off the podium in fourth – both career-best efforts.

Burrow qualified the No. 00 back in ninth, while Grady put in a solid fifth-place run in time trials.

See also
5 Points to Ponder: Does Justin Allgaier Deserve Another Cup Opportunity?

From the moment the green flag flew, Burrow quickly began working his way up the running order. He needed just seven laps to break into the top five. And by lap 51, Burrow had worked his way up to second, where he would spend the remainder of the night.

Grady went in the opposite direction early on, falling down as far as eighth during that same opening stint. But he quickly worked his way back into the top five on lap 53.

Both drivers had opportunities towards the end of the race that ultimately didn’t work out in their favor. On the next to last restart, Burrow worked to the inside of Queen off of turn 2, drawing even as the two entered turn 3.

Burrow then slid up the racetrack and into the side of Queen’s No. 03, sending both drivers sideways for a moment before the duo gathered their cars and lived to fight another day.

Just behind them, Grady worked to the inside and outside of McCaskill multiple times for the third spot. But he wanted to make the pass clean and couldn’t quite pull it off.

Burrow and his team scaled back their operation in 2024, having struggled with just one top five combined throughout 2022-2023. The team has gone with a pick-and-choose schedule, something that has paid off with three top fives in as many starts so far in 2024.

“We sat down throughout the off season,” Burrow said. “It’s a long ride to these tracks for us. We’re from Richmond, V.A., so it’s a five to six hour drive here. Just the time it takes to do it every week, we decided to step back, and make sure when we show up to the racetrack we’ve got a racecar. I’d say we’re succeeding so far.”

Grady has remained full-time with the Tour in 2024, and has been stricken with bad luck for much of the season. But he and his team finally put together a full race at Tri-County, and it paid off with the group’s first CARS Tour top five.

“It’s pure relief man, pure relief,” Grady said of the result. “We’ve had good racecars every single weekend. We’ve legitimately been a top 10, top five car every single race. We either got run over, motor blew, I dropped the ball in qualifying. Something always prevented us from either starting up front and staying there, or just not being there at all.”

“Tonight we finally put a complete weekend together from practice, good qualifying effort, up front all night. I mean man you can’t ask for much better than that, especially against all these guys, these are the best in the country.”

Burrow confirmed to Frontstretch that he will be back in action at Langley this coming weekend, where both he and Grady will look to build off of the career nights they put together at Tri-County.

PLM Rookie Bollman Capitalizes on Leader’s Mistakes

Teenage rookie Jake Bollman picked up his first CARS Tour Pro Late Model win Saturday night at Tri-County, but it certainly didn’t come without controversy.

Thankfully for Bollman, it all took place ahead of him.

Nick Loden started the night on pole, leading from the drop of the green with Tristan McKee and Bollman in tow. As the run continued to progress, the lead Loden had built began to shrink. McKee and Bollman methodically closed on the back of Loden’s No. 43.

On lap 24, McKee made the move inside of Loden for the lead off of turn 2. The two leaders made contact multiple times down the back straightaway and eventually went spinning into turn 3.

While McKee was able to avoid any serious contact, Loden wasn’t as lucky. He backed the No. 43 into the outside wall and destroyed the rear of his machine. The car was left damaged to the point that it was removed from the track by a flatbed rather than the traditional tow truck.

From that point on, it was all Bollman out front. The 17-year-old prospect faced no challenge from behind for the rest of the way. Potential contenders Caden Kvapil and Ashton Higgins suffered mechanical failures that ruined good runs, but neither driver seemed to have anything for Bollman even beforehand.

“I think everyone in this sport at this age (17) is looking to go to NASCAR, something big,” Bollman said. “I’ve always said that the CARS Tour is probably one of the biggest looked-at series, I think you have to run it if you want to make it.

“I think that’s how I’m feeling now – like okay, maybe now people are actually going to look at me. Not saying they weren’t before, but it helps with sponsors in all of this, and my road to (the NASCAR Cup Series). Every kid’s dream.”

Bollman came into the Tri-County weekend 37 points down and 11th in the standings. His win and struggles for others will give him a chance to re-energize his championship bid as the CARS Tour nears the halfway point in the Pro Late Model season.

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: A Kyle Larson Playoff Waiver Isn't the Real Question

Sound Gear 225 Results

Late Model Stock Car:

  1. Brenden Queen
  2. Chase Burrow
  3. Deac McCaskill
  4. Andrew Grady
  5. Kade Brown
  6. Bryce Applegate
  7. Brent Crews
  8. Connor Jones
  9. Chad McCumbee
  10. Mini Tyrrell
  11. Dexter Canipe Jr.
  12. Buddy Isles Jr.
  13. Connor Zillisch
  14. Kaden Honeycutt
  15. Isabella Robusto
  16. Jacob Heafner
  17. Ryan Millington
  18. Treyton Lapcevich
  19. Connor Hall
  20. Bobby McCarty
  21. Katie Hettinger
  22. Carson Kvapil
  23. Tommy Joe Martins
  24. Blayne Harrison
  25. Landon Huffman
  26. Cameron Bolin
  27. Brandon Pierce
  28. Ronnie Bassett Jr.
  29. Landen Lewis
  30. Mitch Walker

Pro Late Model:

  1. Jake Bollman
  2. T.J. DeCaire
  3. Spencer Davis
  4. Jimmy Renfrew Jr.
  5. Kaden Honeycutt
  6. Jonathan Shafer
  7. Kyle Campbell
  8. Tyler Church
  9. Logan Jones
  10. Brandon Lopez
  11. Dylan Garner
  12. Joshua Horniman
  13. Ashton Higgins
  14. Caden Kvapil
  15. Tristan McKee
  16. Nick Loden

What’s Next?

The Late Model Stock cars are back in action this Saturday, June 1 at Langley Speedway for the Visit Hampton 125. On the Pro Late Model side, things are going quiet. The tour will be back in action on Wednesday, July 3, when both series head to Caraway Speedway. Live coverage of every CARS Tour event can be viewed on FloRacing.

About the author

Chase_folsom_ROVAL_2022

Chase began working with Frontstretch in the spring of 2023 as a news writer, while also helping fill in for other columns as needed. Chase is now the main writer and reporter for Frontstretch.com's CARS Tour coverage, a role which began late in 2023.  Aside from racing, some of Chase's other hobbies include time in the outdoors hunting and fishing, and keeping up with all things Philadelphia sports related.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via