Tyler Matthews said he is “pretty happy” with seven victories and the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model championship at Carteret County Speedway, but the competitor in him was left wanting more.
“Considering as much bad luck we had, I think it was pretty cool to win the Carteret championship,” said Matthews, a 20-year-old resident of Richlands in northern Onslow County. “We are so thankful to get seven race wins, but I felt like we had a team good enough to have won a few more.”
Matthews, a junior studying Construction Management at East Carolina University, said the highlight of his 2017 season came on the Solid Rock Carriers Labor Day Classic September 3. “My team was fortunate enough to win both races that night,” he said, “and that’s pretty tough to do against guys like Eric Winslow, Chris Burns, Michael Tilley and Tyler Horne.”
Dorwart’s Garage and Carolina Pride Home Builders were among the sponsors of Matthews’ team, led by crew chief Doug Barefoot and spotter Shane Bogue. “I had some awesome sponsors behind me this year,” said Matthews. “I really appreciate everything all of them did to help us win the title. I have a great team and a lot of awesome fans. I want to thank my mom and dad (Amanda and Steve Matthews) and Kodie Drake for being behind me every step of the way.”
Matthews began racing four-wheelers when he was seven years old and competed on them until he caught the stock car racing bug. “I was about 16 when we tried out a U-Car,” Matthews recalled. “Then I moved into a Street Stock car and did pretty good. I think our team has accomplished a lot of great things considering this is just our third full season of Late Models.”
He added: “We’ve always been fast at Carteret for some reason. The track looks simple, but it is really harder to get around than you’d expect. I appreciate Bobby Watson and the CCS staff for giving us such a nice place. And the best part is racing in front of a big crowd of great fans. That makes the championship really special!”
Eric Winslow of Pelham won twice on the four-tenths of a mile asphalt track and finished second in standings, 41 points behind. Swansboro’s Chris Burns, who scored one victory and finished third in final standings, was 46 points short of repeating as CCS Late Model Stock champion. Winston-Salem native Michael Tilley won three races, including a September 14 sweep and finished fourth in the track’s featured NASCAR Whelen All-American division.
Other 2017 Late Model Stock Car winners at CCS were: Connor Hall (twice); Tyler Horne and “Big” Jim Kelley.
Promoter Bobby Watson said the track will honor all of its 2017 champions at a dinner at Moonshiner’z Restaurant with a date “in early 2018” to be announced.
CCS Late Model Stock Top Five In 2017 Final Standings
- Tyler Matthews 326
- Eric Winslow 285
- Chris Burns 280
- Michael Tilley 264
- Tyler Horne 252