Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Feature on driver Eddie Gilbert

(NOTE: This story ran in the Hickory Daily Record in 2014.)
Gilbert looking for that first win
By Tom Gillispie
Newton’s Eddie Gilbert hasn’t won any 4-Cylinder races this year at Hickory Motor Speedway, but he’s grinning anyway.

He’s tied with Matt Elledge for the points lead.
“Oh, yeah, I’m very happy,” the Newton native said. “Considering I’m in my second year in the car, I’m very happy. Last year was my first year racing (cars), and I finished fourth (in 4-Cylinder points).”
Gilbert says his goal is to get at least one win this year. His best finish so far was second.

“I’ve finished second the last three (4-Cylinder) races,” Gilbert said. “In the last race, Matt got took out. He qualified on the outside pole, and Chase (Pollard) won.”

Gilbert, 27, was a 2006 graduate of Maiden High School. The 5-4, 145-pound Gilbert works at an auto-body shop in Statesville.

“I fix car bodies, collision and restoration,” he said.

He says he can thank his dad, Tim Gilbert, for his racing.

“I had been racing go-karts since I was five years old. My dad started in the early ’80s, and he got me into it,” Gilbert said.

Last year, Tim Gilbert suggested that Eddie try something else, so he started racing his Ford Fusion in the 4-Cylinder division.

Gilbert and Elledge each have 318 points. Curtis Pardue is third with 302, and Pollard, who missed a race for high-school graduation, has 298.

On his improvement from last year to this one, “I’ve come a long way from what I was last year,” Gilbert said. Asked what he’s improved on most, he said, “the setup on the car.”

Gilbert’s had a few adventures. In one race, he was running third on a restart, and his throttle stuck wide open.

“I turned down into Chase (Pollard) and let him spin me out,” Gilbert said. “My worst race was at the first of the year. I tore the front end off. I got into the corner too high. The rear end came around, and the front end smacked the wall. I didn’t finish the race. There were two races that I didn’t finish this year.”
He says his family is supportive, as wife Jamie, 6-year-old son Bryson and 4-year-old daughter Karlyn all come to the races.

One of the drivers he knows best is Shane Lee, the two-time Limited Late Model champion and current Late Model driver. Gilbert says they’ve known each other since they raced go-karts.

“He was a shy kid, but he’s come around a lot,” Gilbert said of Lee, who is fourth in Late Model points.

Lee and Gilbert, a pair of Newton residents, both use the car number 00.
Asked if he hangs around with anyone at the track, Gilbert said, “Only Shane and Mike (Shane’s dad) and them.”

Gilbert says he expects to race 4-Cylinders again next year.

“I ain't going anywhere for awhile,” he said. “I got to start winning races before I move up.”

Is that win in the near future?

“I'm hoping so,” Gilbert said. “I feel like I am close. I guess it'll come when it's time.”

The 4-Cylinders race Saturday. It will be a busy schedule, with the Late Models, Limiteds, Street Stocks, trucks, Renegades and Classic Sportsman racers also on the program.
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