Racing on Carolina's Crystal Coast

EVENT PREVIEW: Opening Night at Carteret County Speedway

EVENT PREVIEW: Opening Night at Carteret County Speedway

SWANSBORO, NC – Carteret County Speedway is ready to get the 2016 season underway with a seven race program on Saturday night, April 2nd.

Opening Night at Carteret County Speedway will be the third race ever held at the 4/10-mile short track in Swansboro, North Carolina.  The race will kick off the first full season of racing at Carteret County Speedway.

Saturday’s race will feature racing for the Late Models, Mini-Stocks, Street Stocks, U-CARs, Legends, Bandoleros and the USAC Midgets.  With Wake County Speedway already postponing their race which was scheduled for Friday, Saturday’s race will be the first race of the year for competitors in Eastern North Carolina.

Bobby Watson in Good Spirits

Track owner Bobby Watson is in good spirit and excited about the season opener.  It was recently announced by the track that Watson was cancer free after undergoing chemotherapy treatments during the offseason.  Watson, who was considered one of the greatest promoters ever in Go-Kart racing, spent over a decade building Carteret County Speedway as his “field of dreams”.  That dream came true when the first race was held on September 6, 2015.

Zach Henshaw Hoping for Breakthrough Season

Zach Henshaw could be primed for a breakthough season in 2016.  Henshaw has raced in the past predominantly at East Carolina Motor Speedway, but with Carteret County Speedway now open, Henshaw can race at his home track.

“It should be a good season for us, I feel like,” Henshaw said.  “We got a new car after the wreck at the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National last year.  It bent the front clip so I got a whole new front end on the car, all new suspension and shock setup.

“We were off on practice this past weekend at CCS, so we made some adjustments and picked up over a second.  We’re heading in the right direction with the car and hopefully, I can get the first win of my late model career before my dad deploys back over to the Middle East then it’ll be just me for the rest of the season.”

Henshaw will have his work cut out for him if he does get his first win on Saturday.  Regional racing icon “Big Jim” Kelley will be coming out of retirement to race on Saturday night.  Other contenders include Dillon Motor Speedway (South Carolina) driver Tim Allensworth and Chris Burns, who used to compete primarily at Coastal Plains Raceway in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Mini-Stock Racing to Produce Memorable Moments

Mini-Stock racing often times produces some of the most thrilling racing at any short track and Carteret County Speedway is no exception to the rule.  Last September, Brandon Clements scored the victory over a strong field of over 15 Mini-Stocks.  However, the fans are most likely to remember the incident involving Stephen Sanders who, after being involved in an incident, staged a protest on the frontstretch of the racetrack.  Sanders argued with the flagman for several minutes and then, after track officials got him back in his car, started doing donuts on the frontstretch to an orchestra of cheers and jeers from the fans in the stands.

Already, Mini-Stock racing throughout the Southeast has produced fights and controversy.  Many big name players in Mini-Stock racing, including Clements, will be heading to Carteret County Speedway on Saturday night.  While the Late Models are the headline act, the Mini-Stock race might be the race to steal the headlines.

USAC Midgets Invade the Crystal Coast

The USAC Eastern Midgets will make their first ever visit to Carteret County Speedway on Saturday night and a strong field of cars is expected to attend.  The Open Wheel Midgets are the same type of cars as what fans of racing watched in the 1990s when ESPN aired “Thursday Night Thunder” from Indianapolis Raceway Park (now known as Lucas Oil Raceway).  Midget racing has produced NASCAR champions such as four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and former Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman.

The next NASCAR superstar could be in this field of USAC Eastern Midgets that will invade the Crystal Coast on Saturday.

Times and Tickets

Gates will open for competitors on Saturday morning at 10am and practice will begin at 4pm.  Spectator gates will open at 5pm.  Qualifying is set to get underway at 6pm and the green flag will wave on the 2016 season at 7pm.

Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12 and kids five and under admitted free.  Pit passes are available for competitors and fans for $25, which is lower than the industry average price for pit passes.

Looking Back at Last Season

Clay Jones scored the victory in the inaugural Late Model race at Carteret County Speedway last September, charging through the field late after getting tangled up with a lapped car in the middle stages of the event.  Brandon Clements won in the Mini-Stock race while Jesse Council scored the Street Stock win, Jesse Jones won in U-CAR, Justin Mitchell won in Legends and Dustin Yeoman won in Bandoleros.  Carteret County Speedway also hosted a Southern Modified Race Tour race last October with Cale Gale scoring the win.

Looking Ahead

Prior to its reconstruction as a Late Model track, Carteret County Speedway was once a 1/5-mile Go-Kart track.  However, Carteret County Speedway will host Kart racing again on April 23rd.  The Legends and Bandolero divisions will also be in action on April 23rd.  Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini-Stocks and U-CARs all return to Carteret County Speedway on April 30th.

Event Coverage

If you are unable to attend Saturday night’s races, you can catch up on the action by checking out the official Carteret County Speedway website for official race recaps and results.  Coverage of races at Carteret County Speedway is also available from the Carteret News-Times, WCTI-TV, WITN-TV, Race22.com, Short Track Scene, Speed51.com and The Weekly Racer.

For more information about Carteret County Speedway, visit the track’s official website at www.carteretspeedway.com, “like” Carteret County Speedway on Facebook (www.facebook.com/carteretcoswy) or follow @carteretcoswy on Twitter (www.twitter.com/carteretcoswy).