Sprint Car Insider- Driver Exclusive. TULARE, Calif. (February 15, 2019) > Highlighted by his win of night one of the infamous Budweiser Outlaw Nationals, at Plaza Park, Bryson Bettencourt proved to be a consistent threat throughout the entire 2018 Micro Sprint season in Central California.
After deciding to forgo the traveling King of California series, and focus solely on racing locally between Keller Auto Raceway Plaza Park, and Lemoore Raceway, his decision paid dividends. He was a consistent threat to win races, or land on the podium, week in, and week out. No matter who showed up to the track, or how big the race was, it didn’t matter, Bettencourt found himself in contention.
While the big win at the Outlaw Nationals may be the highlight of 2018, it doesn’t tell the full story about how many times he almost made it happen. He even was apart of one of the closest finishes in the history of Lemoore Raceway. Unfortunately for Bettencourt, he found himself on the losing end of a six one-thousandths of a second (.006) margin. He came so close. However It was just a couple weeks later when he parlayed his momentum into a victory.
By only racing locally, when it was all said and done, Bettencourt had 24 main events to his credit. Of his 24 main events, he took home one hard-earned victory, 4 additional podiums, 11 Top 5’s, and a staggering, 17 out of 24, top 10 finishes. It was a remarkable season from start to finish according to the numbers.
The year started off fast for Bettencourt. He landed a top 5 out of the gate at Lemoore Raceway, on April 21. It was a quick rebound from his 16th place finish the night before at Plaza Park. That rebound finish was pivotal in sustaining his confidence heading into the latter part of the season.
Week two of the season for Bettencourt saw his first match-up with the traveling drivers of the King of California Micro Sprint Series. As the series swept through Plaza and Lemoore for the first time the added competition did not faze Bettencourt. If anything it elevated his game. Against the fastest drivers on the west coast, Bettencourt drove himself to a very respectable 4th place finish. The next night at Lemoore didn’t go quite as well; but it kicked off a streak top 10’s that lead him all the way to victory.
Bettencourt started the summer stretch with 5th at Lemoore back on May 12th. This was the race that lead up to the Tachi Palace Nationals.
Bettencourt came to play at the Palace Nationals.
The annual Memorial Day Micro Sprint tradition rolled around to Lemoore Raceway once again last May. Everyone seemed to step up their game, in an attempt to earn the title of Lemoore Raceway’s premier event. The weekend turned into a knock-down, drag out, fight between Bettencourt and Jake Smith. The two exchanged blows, going tick for tack, before it culminated into a full-on battle on night one. Smith got the best of Bettencourt on night one. But Bryson proved it would not deter him. He came In ready to lay down the gauntlet on Saturday.
Saturday night once again the show turned into Bettencourt vs Smith. They proved to be the class of the field all weekend. No car on the track could hold a candle to those two at last years Palace Nationals. When the Saturday night main event went green, Bettencourt stepped out to the lead. He opened up a sizeable margin and looked to be In control. Laps clicked by and Smith got into second. Lapped cars were becoming a factor with just laps remaining. In the closing stages of the race Bettencourt’s lead had evaporated and Smith was right there. With two to go Smith set him up, and went for the slide job. Smith landed it and Bettencourt relented the lead with just a lap and a half remaining.
But then waved the white flag.
With just one more trip around Lemoore Raceway, Bettencourt wasn’t giving it up that easy. He threw the haymaker going into turn one. All that remained was the last strait-away, and the final turn, as Bettencourt took back control.
But he left smith too much room. Smith threw the diamond coming out of turn four. It made the run toward the checkers a drag race. Jake Smith made the pass-back stick, and Bettencourt found himself denied from another win. This time just six one-thousandths of a second (.006), was the difference.
It was truly a photo finish.
From that point, a string of top tens took him to his big night. The stretch went 4th at Plaza, 9th back at Lemoore, 5th at Plaza, and 8th at Lemoore. Then, night one of the Budweiser Outlaw Nationals rolled around. The Outlaw Nationals were once considered a top race to win nationwide because Plaza has long been tabbed as the track that if you can win there, you can win anywhere.
On this night Bryson Bettencourt got the job done.
After being so close, and denied so many times, Bryson Bettencourt sealed the deal on this night in June. He didn’t just get the win. He dominated that night. Bettencourt had to force his way through the field, and make some bold moves to get it done. But judging by the way he did, the car was capable of anything that night.
He followed up his night one win with a solid top-ten. Again, he elected not to travel and decided to forgo California Speedweek as well. The next time the 15 showed up to race was the Jet Bowl Classic in the beginning of July at Lemoore Raceway. He hoped recapture the momentum from Palace Nationals but it wasn’t quite as illustrious this go around. A pair of top
tens, with 8th Friday night, and 7th Saturday night, did not pad his win total, but certainly added to his very consistent 2018 results.
From that point forward Bettencourt only hit the track 10 more times to round out the season. The month of August saw a minor slump of sub top 10 finishes aside from a 4th at Plaza on August 24th. He rebounded nicely in the month of September as he scored a pair of top 5’s at the final King of California rounds at Plaza and Lemoore. It was 5th for him Friday at Plaza, and a solid KofC podium at Lemoore on Saturday.
The Mark Hagopian Memorial was up next for Bettencourt. He rolled in to one of the biggest races of the year with a ton of momentum. Not only is it one of the biggest one-off races, it also serves as the points finale for Plaza Park. Although his 6th and 13th place finishes on the weekend were not what he desired, it closed the book on a very memorable season at Plaza Park in 2018.
The very next weekend Lemoore Raceway held their points Paying finale. By this point Bettencourt’s focus had shifted to transitioning into the Stock or Super 600 class. He felt his time in Restricted was well spent, but overdue. The result on the track reflected that sentiment as he finished his 2018 Lemoore campaign with a 15th on the night.
At the end of 2018 the numbers come back impressive. To have only raced 24 times and finish inside of the top 10 for 11 of them, against the fastest Restricted class in the nation, speaks volumes to the driving ability of Bettencourt. That is 45% of total features on the year, he was in the top 5 of them. Additionally his 17 out of 24 top 10’s accounts for a staggering 77%. While only one win might make it easy to doubt the results of the season, numbers never lie. Those statistics match up with some of the best.
With that in mind Bettencourt intends to take that momentum with him to the returning Stock Class. The Stock class is set to return and you will find Bryson Bettencourt contesting In it, looking to grab more of those, ever-so-desired, illustrious victories.
Can he get the job done in 2019? Come find out.
Bryson Bettencourt would also like to cordially extend his sincerest thanks to all his sponsors, fans, and supporters for making 2018 such a successful season.
Sponsors and special thanks to:
J.B Construction Co.
F.J Schott trucking
Central California Ag Repair Inc
Lee’s Car Stereo
Mom and Dad and the entire family
Kevin Borges and the Borges family
Every fan in the stands
The tracks for hosting the series
Anyone out there who supports his efforts
Bryson Bettencourt 2018 Statistics:
Top 5: 11
Top 10: 17
Top 5% = 45%
Top 10% = 77%
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