September 23, 2013 – By Jacob Seelman for Speed 77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – Charlotte, NC – The 2013 US Legend Cars national season has seen no shortage of drama, excitement, and tight competition, but as the season rapidly winds to a close, those who have outperformed have left no doubt on their championship-worthy performances.
When a rookie injects themselves into a championship fight, people take notice. When a rookie who’s never set foot in a race car before 2013 does everything necessary to walk away with a championship trophy, people stop and marvel. And that’s exactly what William Byron has made onlookers do in 2013, is marvel.
With 26 wins and 47 top five finishes in 61 starts this season, the 15-year-old rookie out of Charlotte, NC, has defied all the odds and with a win last Friday night at Concord Speedway, combined with a second place finish to his teammate Tripp Gerrald at the Legends Asphalt Nationals two weeks ago, has unofficially locked up the 2013 Young Lions National Championship, pending final points tabulation.
“It’s unbelievable. This was the goal, from the start,” Byron said in a recent conversation with Race Chaser correspondent Jacob Seelman of Speed77 Radio. “To come out and do what we’ve done this year, I couldn’t ask for any more. Dennis Lambert, my parents, this team, we proved that we could come in and go right to the top. I’m so proud of the effort, and I’m proud to be able to bring a championship home for them this year.”
Likewise, in the Semi-Pro fight, Canadian Ryan Mackintosh has put together a stellar season to all but lay claim to the 2013 title. With a win at the venerable Hickory Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon and a dominating win at the 2013 Asphalt Nationals among his season highlights, Mackintosh has effectively put his points total out of reach with just two weeks to go in the season, holding a nearly 80 point advantage over Riley Thornton.
Mackintosh counts the Nationals win at Lake Erie Speedway, a trio of wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway during this year’s Summer Shootout and the win at Hickory on Sunday among his season highlights.
“We’ve had some big moments this year. The Shootout title is really the only thing we missed, but you can’t win them all, though we certainly try to. The Chris Woods Racing team has been on it all year. For me to be able to live my dream, come down here and race with the best, I couldn’t ask for any more. And we’re planning on going out these final two weeks and proving why we’ve earned it.”
In the Pro class, the season has been all about Jason Irwin. The young rising star proved his championship worth by maximizing his points total at 2500 by the end of July, and has left virtually the entire field in his tire tracks all season long. With 34 wins on the year, the New Mexico teenager has won virtually everywhere he’s raced in 2013, the lone exception being the Asphalt Nationals two weeks ago, when Daniel Hemric returned to the Legends Pro ranks and iced the field. Irwin finished third in that feature, ahead of his championship rivals Baiden Heskett and Clayton Green, to seal the 2013 crown.
“That’s what you call a dominant season right there. I hate that we missed out on the Nationals win, but Hemric’s good, and we just got outraced. Still a fantastic year.”
And in the over-40 class, the Masters division, Texan Sean Glennon has outraced the field, sprinting to 17 wins on the 2013 season and leads the Masters points race by 14 markers over Louisiana native Chris Freeland. Glennon finished ninth in the Masters National Feature, one spot ahead of Freeland, to garner the tie-breaker should it come into play in the final two weeks. The Masters class is the only division where the points lead could change over the final two weeks, and it will certainly be interesting to watch as the 2013 racing season rumbles to a close.
The saying, “the cream rises to the top” is easily the best moniker to put on the 2013 US Legends season, and as the final two weeks roll out on-track, the question that has to be asked is: Will it be the champions, or the chasers, who end up in Victory Lane to conclude the season?
We’re about to find out.
PHOTO CAPTION: Ryan Mackintosh celebrates at the 2013 Legends Asphalt Nationals after winning the Semi-Pro feature and putting a lock on the 2013 points championship. (Ryan Mackintosh Racing)