SALISBURY, N.C. – For the second time in as many years, Pennsylvania’s Brian Carber left the sixth-mile Millbridge Speedway dirt track with a marquee micro sprint victory after topping Wednesday night’s TRD KKM Giveback Classic presented by Rowdy Energy.
Carber, who won last year’s TRD Micro Showdown at Millbridge, came out ahead in a fierce battle with longtime Keystone State rival Alex Bright. Following the race’s penultimate restart with 16 to go, after Aiden Purdue stalled in turn three, Carber began lobbing deep sliders at Bright in an attempt to pass.
For two straight laps, on laps 53 and 54, Carber tried. Both times, Bright crossed back underneath the neon pink and white No. 41 by the time the pair reached turn three.
Finally, however, Carber’s efforts paid off. With 13 to go, Carber cleared Bright at the mid-point of the backstretch and raced away in turns three and four, fending off his pursuer from that point on.
Bright tried a slider of his own on lap 61, but Carber held him at bay. However, a final caution with three laps left for the slowing car of third-running Daison Pursley set up a critical restart for all the marbles.
When the green flag waved, Carber took off into the North Carolina night, as Brent Crews tried to steal second from Bright going into turn one.
Though Bright got back past, Carber was already long gone, racing to victory by 1.018 seconds.
In victory lane, the 26-year-old let loose a shout of emotion as the magnitude of the moment sunk in, but still offered a great deal of respect to Bright for the fierce battle down the stretch.
“Oh man, what a race! I was able to go below him and race him down into three,” Carber said, describing his race-winning move. “We did make a little bit of contact, but for $15,000 and a Keith Kunz (Motorsports) ride, you know, you do what you have to. We go home and bump wheels in Pennsylvania, Illinois, all across the country, but we see him in victory lane and give each other hugs. We support whatever decisions each other makes.
“Alex is one of the best in the business. I can’t applaud him enough. That was so much fun.”
For his winning efforts, Carber was offered a choice of either $15,000 or a $5,000 winner’s share and a guaranteed ride with Keith Kunz Motorsports during the upcoming Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in January.
After an emotional few moments of thought, in surprising fashion, the race winner declined the Chili Bowl ride and elected to take the five-figure payday.
“Man, I’m 26 years old, and I’ve been trying to get my life going the past two years,” said Carber. “I had a bad concussion about three or four years ago and I’ve taken steps to come back in my progression. I’ve been running my 360 sprint car every chance I get. I have a family team back home. Our trailer is falling apart. We need to financially get back into it. My brother just had a couple of kids. Everyone’s enjoying themselves. We came down here to North Carolina to enjoy it and have fun.
“I hope Keith recognizes that,” Carber added. “I do want to race, I do want to be that next race car driver, but at the same time, I do everything myself. I am the crew chief, car owner, and driver. I get my buddies together every time we race and have fun with it. And we had a lot of fun here tonight.”
For Bright, who came home second, the race coming down to a late restart was his undoing. He noted that Carber, who he’s raced with for years in micro sprints, has his tricks decoded like no one else.
“I’m usually pretty good at restarts in these 600s at least, but Carber has me figured out down to a T,” said Bright. “He gets me everywhere on starts when he’s in second. He had a good restart on that last one and took it to the checkered.
“It’s definitely frustrating. I can’t get away from him and he can’t get away from me,” Bright added. “It doesn’t matter if we’re at the big races in the Midwest, back home in Pennsylvania or here tonight. We’re always side-by-side and racing for it. He has a knack for these big races and he pulled it off tonight.”
Bright’s brother, Brenden Bright, completed the podium after charging back from contact in the middle stages of the race with Daison Pursley.
Millbridge regulars Brent Crews and Gavan Boschele filled out the top five, followed by hard-charger Dillon Welch, who transferred out of the B-main and came from 20th starting spot to finish sixth.
One-hundred-and-seven entries attempted to make the second edition of the KKM Giveback Classic.
Robbie Smith and Austin Lambert topped the E-mains Wednesday night, while Brenham Crouch and Austin Lambert won the twin D-mains. Jaxon Bishop and Matthew Howard were best in their respective C-mains, and Gage Robb and Crews each won a B-main to lead the transfer cars into the 67-lap feature.