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The Orange Krush 200 Was A Hit With Drivers and Fans Alike

Fans wrapped around Orange County Speedway on Friday night, and racers offered their praise of the event at its conclusion.


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It all started in a Food Lion.

Jeb Burton had been pestering his father, Ward Burton, to run just one more race. Let’s get on track together. He could run one of the Late Model Stock Cars prepared by Jeb’s team, Sellers-Burton Racing.

It all came to fruition on Friday night with the Orange Krush 200 at Orange County Speedway, as fans packed the stands to watch Ward’s first race since 2012. Proceeds from the event went to the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, adding a charitable aspect to the festivities.

But it was a conversation between Jeb and Joey Rogers of Rogers Heating & Cooling put the wheels in motion. Rogers was once an intern at the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, but their chance meeting in a grocery store became the launching point for the event.

“This is Jeb’s brainchild,” Ward Burton told Racing America after Friday's race. “Jeb’s been talking about this for at least three years. Jeb met and saw Joey and Alyssa Rogers at a Food Lion. That’s where all this started.

“I can remember Jeb calling me and saying, ‘We’re going to do a Late Model race!’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Joey wants to sponsor it.’ I said, ‘Joey who?’ He said, 'Joey! You know, Joey Rogers!'

“Joey was an intern for my foundation back when he was 16 or 17 years old. It’s funny how things make the full circle.”

RELATED: Ward and Jeb Burton Reflect on First Race Together at Orange Krush 200

That conversation grew into an event featuring 23 Late Model Stock competitors. Not just Ward and Jeb, but some of the best the discipline has to offer.

The battle for the win came down to a rising star, Kaden Honeycutt, holding off one of the best to ever turn a wheel at Orange County in Deac McCaskill. Behind them, three-time zMAX CARS Tour champion Bobby McCarty was chasing them down in the closing laps.

Fans wrapped around the 3/8-mile facility in Rougemont, North Carolina to cheer on their favorites, whether it be Ward, Jeb, or one of the Late Model heroes. Those fans were treated to a well-run show, with 200 laps of action packed into an efficient 90-minute timeframe from green to checkered to start a holiday weekend.

“I’m proud of the effort,” said Jeb. “I’m proud of all the partners that helped make it happen. I appreciate everybody coming out. Racing America, thank you for supporting the event. Rogers Heating & Cooling, all our partners.”

“How many people do you think were here? I heard 6,000. We’re excited. This is a badass race track. We’re going to try to get them to do it again.”

“I appreciate all the fans. Without the fans and the support, we wouldn’t be able to be here, and the drivers.”

Many of those racers echoed the sentiment, including all of the podium finishers.

“What a well-ran show,” said Honeycutt after his win. “Everybody did such a great job tonight. No real caution laps, no big wrecks, nothing like that. Awesome crowd here at Orange County tonight. I really hope we come back and do this again. Especially with Ward and Jeb, they did such a good job, and Buck [Reuss] as well.”

Deac McCaskill has been a long-time competitor at Orange County over the years, and Friday’s atmosphere gave him flashbacks to days gone by.

“Hats off to Jeb and Ward for putting this event on,” said McCaskill. “What a turnout, all the fans coming out. This is reminding me of the old days.

“We had an autograph session for what felt like two hours and it could have went longer. I can’t thank the fans enough. This was a really, really neat event.”

Third-place finisher Bobby McCarty offered similar praise, noting how impressed he was by the turnout for the event despite being postponed one day due to weather.

“Buck and them, Ward and everybody did a really good job. This was a really cool event. The fan attendance was outstanding. I didn’t know how it was going to be on Good Friday, but everything about this weekend went really, really smooth.

For Ward Burton, the praise from those competitors along with the fan turnout made the entire event worthwhile.

“What I was pleased and really ecstatic about, I don’t know how many races I’ve been to that the competitors were complimentary about the way they were treated at this event,” said Ward. “The fans, I think, truly enjoyed the way they were treated, too. When you look at all of that and everything Rogers has done for us, as a fundraising event for WBWF, it was a success.”

“It’s hard for me to picture it all. All I saw was going up there, we signed autographs for an hour. This is a pretty big place, and when you can wrap all the way around, so it’s hard to judge how large the crowd is, but it sounds like it was a success.”

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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