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Barber Leading Weekly Thunder Bomber Standings

Barber Leading Weekly Thunder Bomber Standings

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (June 18) — Early in the season, someone sent Justin Barber a text on his phone to let him know he was leading the Weekly Racing Series points standings for the Crate Racin’ USA Thunder Bomber Division.

He paid little attention to the unexpected notification from a friend, and as the calendar flipped to its mid-June stretch, Barber was still atop the standings that will determine a champion from seven different racing facilities where the highly-competitive class falls under the sanctioning banner of the Eastaboga, Ala-based organization.

Through June 20, which was two days after his latest victory in a Friday night event at Travelers Rest (S.C.) Speedway, Barber held a 909-746 edge over Isaac Thomas in the standings. He’s tallied five victories at three different tracks, and has accumulated 14 top-five finishes and 17 top-10 performances in 20 starts.

2021 Crate Racin’ USA Thunder Bomber Division
(point standings thru June 20)

  1. Justin Barber, 909 points; 2. Isaac Thomas, 746; 3. Preston Dimsdale, 700; 4. Blake Bentley, 615; 5. Jason Edmonds, 612; 6. Hunter Funderburke, 610; 7. Danny Edmonds, 598; 8. Hank Taylor, 580; 9. Jonathan Hinson, 571; 10. Tyler Guice, 557; 11. Kyle Guice, 545; 12. Grant Parr, 544; 13. Jimbo Baker, 497; 14. Bailey Hipp, 494; 15. Seth Outlaw, 481; 16. Joe Anders, 467; 17. Chris Patterson, 465; 18. Timmy Smith, 458; 19. Lloyd Dean Burgess, 455; 20. Juston Truitt, 453.

It’s not that Barber doesn’t care about the potential championship, but he’s simply not one to pay much attention to such details. He’s a pure racer who was raised in the sport from his earliest days, watching his grandfather and the rest of his family participate in a rough-and-tumble sport. He grew up idolizing folks in the racing industry, and it instilled a determination factor into his own eventual approach to the sport that hasn’t waned since.

Work hard, win races, and everything else will fall into place.

The 27-year-old Barber’s racing career started in the 4-Cylinder division at now-defunct Riverside Speedway in Travelers Rest, S.C., where he put two and a half years into the class. He then raced twice in the Pure Stock class before electing to quit car racing.

“I went four-wheeler racing,” Barber says matter-of-factly, giving a nod toward his love for competition, but acknowledging that racing stock cars was a little too expensive for him at the time.

“It was costly for me, and even today I couldn’t do what we do without the people who help us with sponsorship,” he said. “It’s an expensive hobby, but these [Thunder Bomber] cars do help a little bit. They’re not too crazy expensive, and they’re fun to drive and it’s a very competitive division.”

Among those sponsors who help him get to the racetrack every week are Davis Diesel Service, Sam’s Little Pigs Bar-B-Q, Rayz Wraps, Pickin’ Peppers Hidden Treasures, Mintz Scrap Iron, E&K Services, OEY Racing, B&M Machine Shop, Whiteside’s Racing Parts and The Snack Shack.

Two feature wins at Harris (N.C.) Speedway, two at Travelers Rest (S.C.) Speedway and a single win at Laurens County (S.C.) Speedway are gracing his current win column. His career in the division totals much less than two years, and has followed a definitive step-by-step road map that he mentally laid out for his racing career. That plan was derived from years and years of experience, and being raised in the sport.

“I’ve been around racing since ’95, back when I was maybe two years old,” Barber said. “My grandpa raced, and I watched all those guys who raced with him and against him always struggling to participate in the sport, and that was back when I was very young. I was raised in it, and when you’re around it your whole life, it teaches you to be determined and focused on whatever you do. I really like the competitiveness.”

He started in Thunder Bomber Futures last year, posting a successful season in the class for up-and-coming drivers. This season he moved to the Thunder Bomber Weekly Racing Series, and revealed plans to dabble in two or three Thunder Bomber Shootout Series events toward the end of the current season with an eye on competing with the division’s popular traveling series during the 2022 campaign.

“When we started in these cars I had a basic plan in mind for how we were going to make progress,” Barber said. “We started racing in the Futures division, because I knew we’d want to get some seat time and maybe some experience leading laps, so we could get those kinda nerves out of the way. Our first season was all about making laps, and seeing if we could lead some of ‘em.

Barber, who works for a utility company specializing in underground power, admits to having anxiety issues at times in his day-to-day existence, but he says racing is the best outlet he’s found to control his worries.

“That cockpit is my calm place,” Barber said. “If I’m driving down the highway on a normal day, my anxiety might go all to crap. Racing…it’s like my drug. Once I’m strapped into the car and ready to go, I’m as cool as a cucumber out there. Being in that race car calms me down.”

An old-school personality when it comes to his racing efforts, Barber clearly values the hard work and sweat equity factor that is necessary to be successful in short track racing. A little perspiration on the brow? No problem. Bring it on.

“It’s like my second job just about every day,” Barber said. “You’ve got to put in the time to do this stuff, and I’ll get home from work and go back in the shop to work on the car. I like to be very competitive as a racer, and if you’re going to be successful in this sport, you’ve got to work on your equipment and do the maintenance, or that car is not going to perform for you.”

Right now, performance isn’t a question as Barber has built a solid lead in the weekly points standings. He’s got a little breathing room, but just isn’t the type to breathe easier. He knows there’s a championship out there somewhere, but first things first and the rest should follow his plan.

“It’d be nice to win the points deal, I guess,” Barber said, almost reluctantly admitting to his current status as the odds-on favorite. “It would definitely be an accomplishment, and hopefully it works out that way for us. I guess I don’t really watch the points, though. I got that text earlier in the year, but I didn’t think too much about it, and I honestly haven’t checked them since. It’s just not something I think about.”

Should it happen, it’ll be another positive step forward in his racing career, and some personal affirmation that his self-designed personal road map is still on track. He’s currently negotiating what could be determined to be the second stage of his overall plan as a Thunder Bomber competitor. And yes, he’s mildly aware it could lead to a championship.

However that title chase might work out, you can bet someone will have to send him a text to let him know.

Article Credit: Brian McLeod

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