Before this weekend’s World Short Track Championship, 11-year-old Beckham Malone had never driven a dirt Late Model.
But on Saturday night, he drove with the skills of a veteran, leading the final 23 laps to earn the Chevrolet Mid-East 602 Late Model Feature win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Steven Thompkins, the pole-sitter, won the race off Turn 2 to take the lead in the 25-lap Feature. However, it was short-lived after a Lap 2 yellow flag for Craig Overby and Carl Currin in Turn 3.
On the next restart, Dylan Beaver got the advantage over Thompkins while Malone dove underneath Thompkins to wrestle second away. Another caution came out on Lap 3, pivotal in the race’s outcome.
When the green came back out, Malone nosed ahead of Beaver in Turn 2, taking the lead as the field thundered down the backstretch. Behind Malone, Dalton Jacobs moved into second on Lap 10, hoping to steal the win away as the race neared its halfway point.
Jacobs had his best shot on a restart with 15 laps remaining, pulling even with Malone in Turns 1 and 2 before Malone pulled away.
From there, Malone held on to score his first World Short Track Championship victory.
After the race, many family and friends stormed Victory Lane to celebrate with Malone, who described his triumph with one word.
“It was insane,” Malone said. “It proves you don’t have to even be 14 to run here. If you’re good enough to race really good, you can come out here and be on the podium just like I did.
“It was all just focus and what I should do at the right timing. I don’t even know what to say right now.”
Jacobs settled for second—his best finish at Charlotte in the 602 Late Models. The Reidsville, NC driver hoped to have another chance before restarts went single file toward the end.
“I wish we could’ve went double-file all the way to the end,” Jacobs said. “But it is what it is. We’ll take second. We won’t hang our heads about it. We’ll just go at it again, and hopefully, we’ll have a little better luck next time.”
Beaver crossed the line third, while Jamison McBride and Luke Cooper rounded out the top five.
In his first Feature since retiring in 2017, National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Steve Francis finished eighth.
Feature (25 Laps): 1. 23-Beckham Malone; 2. 11B-Dalton Jacobs; 3. 117-Dylan Beaver; 4. 215-Jamison McBride; 5. 57-Luke Cooper; 6. 66-Preston Dimsdale; 7. JR1-Jake Jackson; 8. 6C-Steve Francis; 9. 18-Preston Blalock; 10. ZERO1-Colton Avery Dimsdale; 11. 22W-Nathan Walker; 12. 15D-Daniel Durham; 13. 149-Seth Speed; 14. 14M-Baron McDowell; 15. *1-Brad Rachels; 16. 12-Justin Taylor; 17. 23A-Mike Ayers; 18. 01-Cole Dockery; 19. C10-Carl Currin; 20. 5-Robbie Gibson; 21. C25-Craig Overby; 22. 24B-Jacob Brown; 23. 22T-Steven Thompkins; 24. 300-Bill Tesh; 25. J12-Jason Dickerson; 26. 10D-Daniel Parker