No number in stock car racing is more famous than 3, emblazoned on the side of the late Dale Earnhardt’s black Chevy as he drove to seven NASCAR Cup Series titles, a record he shares with Richard Petty and Jimmie Johnson.
Brenden Queen, more familiarly known to all as “Butterbean,” will be looking to win another Late Model Division championship on Saturday at Langley Speedway in the Visit Hampton VA 100. This one would have the number “3” written all over it.
It would mark a third consecutive Langley Late Model title for ’03 driver Queen, who also won that division at Dixieland in North Carolina this season. That makes it three tracks: He won the Late Model title at East Carolina in 2016, where he has been the Late Model champion.
Most importantly, Queen will become the third driver in Langley Speedway’s 72-year history to win three consecutive Late Model titles. He comes into Saturday’s race with a 10-point lead over Greg Edwards that isn’t insurmountable, but gives him a huge margin for error.
“Winning one meant a lot, and I never knew I’d be in a position to win another one, let alone three in a row,” said Chesapeake native Queen. “It’s so great to be on that list of champions (Langley).
“To get a chance to win and do something that only two people have ever done, win three in a row, that would be another record to add my name to. It would be a big problem.
“We all know how good and respected Elton Sawyer and CE Falk were. Being in the same conversation with them is something special.”
Special like his 2022 season. Although Queen won the track’s biggest race, the Hampton Heat, in 2020, some wrote off his Late Model championship that season because he didn’t win a race on points.
He added wins, five of them, to his 2021 title defense. This season he has won nine Late Model races at Langley and another at the prestigious CARS Tour race there, as well as five en route to the title at the Dixieland dirt track in Elizabeth City. , North Carolina.
“Obviously working with Phil Warren has helped me,” Queen said of his crew chief, who holds the Langley Late Model division record with seven titles. “The first championship was consistency and the second I learned how to really put together races and win.
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“This year I have built on the last two years on how to seal the deal on a weekly basis and was able to walk out of the gate with a bunch of wins early. I felt like I was driving much more mature.”
Gone are the days when people questioned Queen’s ability, which raises another question: Why hasn’t someone from one of NASCAR’s top series called? The answer is sadly familiar in stock car racing, where, unlike football or basketball, sponsorship money often trumps talent as an entry requirement at the highest levels.
At 24, Queen understands that the window on that dream is closing. That she is at peace with that underlines the aforementioned maturity of hers.
“You always keep chasing (the dream), but at the same time you have to go with the cards that you’re dealt,” Queen said. “I just want to have fun, be competitive and make my name in the history books, even if it’s as a great local and regional driver.
“I feel like I’m creating my own legacy at Langley, and it’s great knowing I’ll always be in the record book.”
In addition to the Late Model Division, champions will be crowned at Langley on Saturday in six other divisions. At a point per race position, several exciting battles remain.
Trace Wyatt leads his father, Dannie Wyatt, by one point in the Champ Kart title hunt. … Christian Keller is two points ahead of Bill Eaker and Tyler Borden in UCAR. … Chris Roberts leads Tim Wilson by two points at Grand Stock. … Travis Wall has a six-point lead over Donovan Edwards in the Pro Six. … Ryley Music’s margin over Cody Bryant in Virginia Racers/Limited Late Model is six points. … Stephen Finn is way ahead in Enduro. … The Virginia Sprint Car Series will also be available when the race begins at 7 pm on Saturday.