Man of The People enjoys the cheers of Butter Nation at North Wilkesboro

As Corey Heim climbed from his truck at the finish line at North Wilkesboro Speedway Sunday to celebrate his third win of the season the crowd erupted into cheers.

Those accolades didn’t all belong to Heim, however.

At almost the exact moment, almost directly behind him on pit road, another driver climbed from his truck. It was his Tricon Garage teammate Brenden Queen, but more widely known simply as “Butterbean” to his legions of fans known as Butter Nation. He’s become a man of the people followed by masses of late model racing fans most of whom are firmly rooted in the blue-collar world and are proud of it.

The 26-year-old Virgina native has had a prolific career in racing slowly clawing his way up the ladder towards the pinnacle of racing and currently a star on the CARS Tour a late model series. His ultimate goal, like that of many racers, was to make his debut in one of the NASCAR national Touring series races.

Sunday that box was checked.

Queen got the attention of the NASCAR world a year prior when he won a CARS tour race at the same track during the week leading up to the Truck race on All-Star weekend.  That win led to talks that culminated with him making his Truck series debut Sunday.

And he certainly made the most of it.

Starting 26th, Queen fought his way forward passing some 70 trucks in the process. He quickly found his way forward but on lap 119 during pit stops he was penalized for speeding on pit road and forced to return to the rear of the field.

Corey Heim celebrates his win at North Wilkesboro Sunday. (Photo: Greg Engle

That wasn’t an issue for Butterbean. He sliced and diced his way back through the field and in the closing laps fought for position banging doors with Christian Eckes and Sammy Smith. When the checkered flag fell Queen was rewarded with a fourth-place finish behind Grant Enfinger and Layne Riggs. Smith was fifth, Eckes who started on pole was sixth.

Oh man, I just can’t believe it,” Queen said. “We got that speeding penalty and I thought I was conservative on the lights and it just got us – rookie mistake. I told them – well, you know what, congrats to the teammate (Corey Heim). That’s awesome, he gets to go and ride the lift and I know what that feels like. I told the team I was going to get them back in contention and we did.”

The race was delayed from Saturday after heavy rains flooded the track forcing Queen, who was just outside the top 10 at the time, and the rest of the field to wait until Sunday.  It didn’t take Heim long to take control of the race, as he has done several times this season taking the lead for the final time on lap 186 and cruising to a 2.4 second win.

While Heim celebrated his win at the start-finish line, Queen was showered with cheers from the Bean Nation in the stands. He soaked it all in and wondered what the future holds for him. His CARS Tour win at the same track last year got the attention of several in NASCAR, and Sunday the cheers from his Butter Nation could be heard all around the NASCAR world.

“Man, this is what I worked for my whole life and never knew if I’d get this opportunity,” Queen said. “Got to thank the man above for keeping us all safe. I just never knew if I would get this opportunity. “Butterbean” Nation has stuck with me as you can see. I’m just blessed, man, and I just hope that I can turn this into some more opportunities. I love racing my Late Model, but this is my dream to get to the next level.”

He also got a nod from race winner Heim, and maybe an invitation.

“To hop in a brand-new race car and go that fast is super impressive,” Heim said. “I’ve tried to help him as much as I could.

“He’s been very open to asking questions and just seems like a sponge…he’s done a great job so far and we’d love having him back.”



Greg Engle