MYRTLE BEACH, SC :: Myrtle Beach Speedway rolled off with twin 50 lap Late Models races on the Fourth of July last week and the fireworks on the track proved to be worth the admission. A strong field of 19 cars including NASCAR weekly series National point leader Anthony Anders were in attendance, but at the end of the night it was the 15 year-old rookie, Payton Ryan, rolling off with both wins for his first ever Late Model victories. Not a bad way to do your first two wins, back to back that is.
In race one Anders would take to pole with Ryan starting second as the field rolled to the green. It would take three laps for the youngster to take the lead on the worn out track, but no one thought he could hold onto it with the tires wearing out so quickly. But his spotter would keep him in check.
“He (Jerry Dickerson) just kept telling me to hold back, hold back every time I would put some distance on them,” said Ryan. “It’s just so hard to ride slow so to say, especially coming from the legend cars where you don’t have many laps and you have to go wide open.”
Matt Cox would get by Anders also by the end of the race to finish second with Anders coming home third, former track champ and Myrtle Beach 400 winner Sam Yarborough fourth, and Ryan Glenski fifth.
In race two of the night, Ryan would have the dreaded invert and start tenth on the field. After 10 laps an early caution would come out with him sitting in third. Ryan Glenski was the leader this time, and after Ryan made his way to second he simply rode behind the leader.
“I wanted to go but they kept holding me back, I simply let him burn his stuff up,” said a very happy Ryan.
Halfway through the second race Ryan made his way around Glenski and went on to take the win, becoming the youngest driver to ever sweep twin Late model races at the beach, or possibly anywhere. Glenski would come home the runner up, as the National point leader lost a little more ground to Lee Pulliam with two third place finishes. Hickory Motor Speedway regular Shane Lee would find his way into the top five behind Anders, followed by Myrtle Beach 2011 Late Model champion Justin Milliken.
When asked how he felt after getting his first wins in a Late Model in his rookie season, Ryan was humbled.
“This was a lot harder to get to than in Legends, that was all I knew before this,” said a shy Ryan. “I feel like I earned it a lot more. It’s a team effort, these guys stand behind me so much. I mean I have Jamie Yelton as my driver coach so to say, and we all know he’s crazy but he gets the job done and tells me exactly what i need to hear, exactly what I need to do. He has been in all the situations and I’m basically seeing them for the first time in this type of car. You may find this hard to believe, but he keeps me calmed down in the car, and that has been
a big key to running well. We are looking forward to going to Hickory this weekend and doing it again.”
One thing is for sure, Ryan is becoming one to watch at whatever track he and the Fathead Racing team pull up to rather quickly.