NEWTON, NC (Oct. 31, 2016) — Deac McCaskill and Brandon Setzer emerged victorious in an event that featured a combined 16 lead changes among 10 drivers during Saturday night’s CARS Tour Cloer Construction at Hickory Motor Speedway. It was McCaskill’s second win of the season, extending his point lead heading into the season finale, and Setzer’s first this season. For both, it was also their third career win in the series.
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Tommy Lemons, Jr., improved his odds in the CARS Tour championship chase by winning the Hedgecock Racing Pole Position in qualifying, a feat worth an extra point in his championship chase of Deac McCaskill. Craig Moore, a series interloper, started outside of Lemons in only his second career race.
Lemons charged to the point on the drop of the green flag, but his stay there was short-lived as former NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Stephen Leicht rocketed to the front in his Jani-King No. 5 car to lead from lap 5 until a caution on lap 15 for a multi-car incident on the frontstretch involving Layne Riggs, Chris Denny, and Thomas Beane. Riggs ultimately parked his ride due to damage from the accident.
On the ensuing restart, Christian Eckes used the outside lane to drive past Leicht for the race lead, leading his first career laps in a late model stock car under the CARS Tour sanction. Eckes set the pace until the third and final caution of the race on lap 35 for a spin once again involving Chris Denny on the backstretch.
Deac McCaskill, who started uncharacteristically deep in the field in 14th, hustled his way through the field early and was in position to snatch the lead from Eckes on the restart. He led for the first time on lap 36 until another driver who started alongside of him in row 7, Justin Carroll, found his way to the front.
Carroll led from lap 44 until Deac McCaskill executed another pass for the lead on lap 58. Josh Berry followed suit up to second and stalked McCaskill for the next handful of laps. Just past halfway, on lap 84, Berry found a weakness on McCaskill and made his way around the No. 08 Ford to claim the lead for the first time in the evening.
Berry’s mid-race tenure at the front of the field was the longest of any driver during the 150-lap contest. While many consider Berry to be the favorite when the tour visits Hickory, Deac McCaskill was determined to pull the upset at a track where he had never won.
Inside of twenty laps to go, McCaskill increased the pressure on Berry, turning underneath of him off of turn four and initiating a side-by-side battle that had fans on their feet for the final 20 laps. McCaskill led lap 135. Berry reclaimed the top spot by inches for the next two circuits. McCaskill held the advantage again on lap 138 but slipped out of turn two, allowing Berry to clear him for the race lead. McCaskill was not deterred and once again turned underneath of Josh Berry exiting turn four a few laps later. The pair continued to race side-by-side until McCaskill cleared Berry for the lead with five laps to go.
McCaskill pulled away from Josh Berry by 1.173 seconds to claim his third career CARS Tour victory, his first of any kind at Hickory Motor Speedway. Berry held onto second while Tommy Lemons, Justin Carroll, and Christian Eckes rounded out the top five.
“It was tough, man,” McCaskill said when asked about the final circuits and his race with Josh Berry in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “I have a lot of respect and I try to pump him up as much as I can because he’s got so much talent it’s unreal. He was searching around trying to find some grip and he ran me clean. We’ve raced a lot with each other and raced each other really respectful and I knew he was going to race me hard tonight. That was a lot of fun, and this is his place, I just can’t believe we finally won this thing. We had a poor qualifying effort and had to come up through the field and-and I was worried about running too hard but I wanted to get a bonus point by getting up there and getting the lead. I let the 57 (Carroll) go and then I let Josh go, and then it was time to go.
“I was catching Josh just a bit and then I’d slip and he’d gain on me a little bit, but it was like the last 20 laps I was a lot better than he was and was able to get by him,” McCaskill continued. “I knew he was going to go up top and have the momentum and it was going to be hard to clear him for the pass, but I was really good through three and four through the middle and had decent drive off. I just can’t thank my guys enough for all their hard work and effort we’ve put into this car. This is a track that’s haunted me in the past, and to come out of here with a victory is really neat, it’s the first time I’ve ever won here. I’m 39 years old and I still get pumped up over this stuff right here.”
Unofficially, McCaskill carries a 13-point lead into Southern National over Tommy Lemons, Jr., for the driver’s championship. McCaskill has won the last two trips the series has made to his home track in Lucama, N.C.
“I want to go for a win,” McCaskill said when asked about points racing in two weeks at Southern National. “$5500 to win is a lot of money, but we don’t want to make any dumb moves or anything like that, but it is my home track and anything can happen. I wasn’t expecting to qualify 14th tonight, that caught us all off guard, but there’s a reason for everything and I have to thank the man upstairs for what He blessed me with tonight because this is an awesome win for us and this is huge. I feel like to be in a position to be a champion in something like this, you have to be able to win at more than one track and it’s haunted me for a long time since I had only won two CARS races at Southern National. To put Hickory down in the record book means a lot to me personally. We’ve led a lot of laps but have never been able to seal the deal. I looked up and saw Tommy coming back in third, so it’s no cake walk to Kenly yet.”
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Brandon Setzer set quick time during Mahle Pistons Pole Qualifying at Hickory, much like he did in this event one year ago, with California driver Zane Smith clocking in second fastest and starting alongside. On the initial green flag, Setzer jumped out to the early lead and set the pace for the opening 20 circuits.
By lap 21, Tyler Church, making his first start with the tour since Orange County in July, motored his way to the front of the field and bypassed Setzer for the lead. Jeff Batten spun down the backstretch on lap 52, bringing out a yellow flag and erasing Church’s lead on the restart.
Nine laps after the restart, Church began to fade and Lucas Jones piloted his No. 16 SRI Performance Ford to the lead for the first time in his career. Tyler Church’s night came to brief halt on lap 76 when his No. 7 Chevrolet stopped in turn three, forcing officials to throw the yellow once again.
Lurking in the top five all race long, Brandon Setzer took advantage of a missed shift by Jones on the restart to retake the lead in turn one. Just eighteen laps later, former third-place runner Cole Timm slowed and ultimately stopped on-track with a broken third link which brought out yet another caution and also ended Timm’s night.
Outside pole starter Zane Smith got his first taste of the lead on lap 95 when he used the outside to drive by Setzer on the restart. The race was in Smith’s control until Garret Archer sent Tristan VanWieringen for a ride in turn two, dropping the No. 2 of Archer to the tail for over-aggressive driving and bringing out the fifth yellow of the night.
On lap 101, the field went green once again and Setzer, who was second, once again captured the top spot on the restart and began to draw away from the field. Behind him, Riley Herbst, Raphael Lessard, and Josh Berry were duking it out for the second spot. Within sight of the finish, on lap 140, Church, Berry, and Stephen Leicht all spun in turn three due to apparent fluid on track to bring out the sixth caution of the night.
At the very same time as the caution waved, Setzer’s lead machine began to show a faint wisp of smoke at times around the track. However, there were no reports of fluid from his car either by drivers or officials, and he was allowed to continue. With ten laps to go, his machine shot out to the point once again on what many assumed would be the final restart of the night.
Setzer took the initial white flag as the leader at the conclusion of lap 149, but soon thereafter, a spin by Taylor Stricklin put the field under caution once again, setting up a green-white-checker restart per CARS Tour rules since the checkered flag had not yet been displayed.
Raphael Lessard, the championship point leader, sailed his Toyota off into turn one outside of Setzer, but the North Carolina driver prevailed and cleared Lessard exiting turn two for the lead. Lessard and Riley Herbst continued their tussle from earlier behind Setzer who drove away to his third career CARS Super Late Model Tour powered by VP Fuels victory. Herbst, Lessard, Lucas Jones and Chandler Smith rounded out the top five.
“I thought the race was over, because we had just lost power steering coming to like ten to go, so that restart really hurt us,” explained Setzer in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “We were having other issues too, it started running hot and we lost water, the motor was blowing up and missing, I really don’t know, but this car was on point, though. My dad has busted his tail this year to make this thing what it can be and he does so much for me, it’s awesome, as do all of these guys, my sponsors, and my girlfriend, I just have to say thank you so much.
“We must have lost some fluid or something because it would come back,” he continued when asked about having to race for a win without power steering. “Under the caution laps, we didn’t have anything, but when we went green it would sorta come back. That helped out a bunch because I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to work out when I ran a few laps without it. We did what we had to do and we beat Raphael tonight, and I feel like he’s the best of the best in the whole country, really, because he goes to all of these races and runs up front. We had to beat him, and we did, but we finally got this bad boy back on track and I’m so happy.”
The season finale for the CARS Racing Tour is November 12 at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, NC. The Late Model Stock Tour driver’s championship is still up for grabs, as is the owner’s title in that division. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Raphael Lessard will enter the event needing only to start his engine to claim the Super Late Model Tour championship.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at www.carsracingtour.com. Fresh content and updates can also be found on the series Facebook page (/carstour), Twitter (@carstour), Instagram (@cars_tour) and Youtube channel (/c/carstour). The series Roku app is also populated regularly with content from CARS Tour events and special productions.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
- There were 11 lead changes among six drivers in the late model stock portion of the Cloer Construction 300. The super late model race had five lead changes among four drivers, making for a combined 16 lead changes among ten drivers, the most competitive race in CARS Tour history as judged by leader statistics.
- The CARS Racing Tour starts up to 30 cars in an event, meaning Raphael Lessard, who enters the finale with a 30-point margin, must finish 27th or better in order to clinch the title in two weeks, regardless of the type of performance Brandon Setzer has at Southern National.
- Deac McCaskill enters Southern National with a magic number of “9th” as his target. If McCaskill finishes ninth or better, regardless of the performance of Tommy Lemons, Jr., McCaskill will claim his first CARS Tour championship. On the owner’s point side, it is a three-way battle between McCaskill and Lemons, along with Josh Berry. Berry missed a race as a driver at Orange County due to NASCAR Xfinity Series commitments, but his No. 88 team is only four points out of the owner’s championship lead entering Southern National. No performance guarantees McCaskill’s team an owner’s championship except to win the race.
- The season finale on November 12th is an afternoon race with a scheduled start time of 3pm ET. As always, the event will be carried live on CARS Tour TV (www.carstour.tv).
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Cloer Construction 300
Hickory Motor Speedway – October 29, 2016
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
- 08 Deac McCaskill 150
- 88b Josh Berry 150
- 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr. 150
- 57 Justin Carroll 150
- 1 Christian Eckes 150
- 12m Austin McDaniel 150
- 18s Evan Swilling 150
- 42 Craig Stallard 150
- 5a Anthony Alfredo 150
- 5 Stephen Leicht 149
- 28 Chris Hudspeth 149
- 74 Ronald Hill 148
- 31 Thomas Beane 148
- 88 Chris Davis 144
- 2 Chris Denny 136
- 16s R.D. Smith 39 Mechanical
- 1m Craig Moore 36 Mechanical
- 99 Layne Riggs 35 Accident
- 7 Justin Crider 30 Mechanical
- 8 Trevor Rizzo DNS Practice Accident
- 17 Ryan Millington DNQ Withdrew
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Cloer Construction 300
Hickory Motor Speedway – October 29, 2016
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
- 6 Brandon Setzer 151
- 19 Riley Herbst 151
- 99 Raphael Lessard 151
- 16 Lucas Jones 151
- 26 Chandler Smith 151
- 49 Jeff Batten 151
- 29 Spencer Davis 151
- 7 Tyler Church 151
- 74 Josh Berry 151
- 2a Garret Archer 151
- 16m Vinnie Miller 151
- 7s Taylor Stricklin 151
- 98m Hannah Newhouse 150
- 54 Matt Craig 150
- 25 Stephen Leicht 150
- 77s Zane Smith 103 Mechanical
- 81 Tristan Van Wieringen 101 Accident
- 97t Cole Timm 94 Mechanical
- 98n Jody Measmer 66 Mechanical
- 8 Tate Fogleman 12 Accident
- 33 Preston Peltier DNS Engine
Sources: Chris Ragle/CARS Tour PR
Photo credit – Kyle Tretow/CARS Tour
DEAC-VL: Deac McCaskill celebrates his first career win at Hickory Motor Speedway after Saturday’s Cloer Construction 300 for the CARS Racing Tour. It was McCaskill’s third career CARS Tour win and gives him a 13-point advantage going into the season finale on November 12th at Southern National Motorsports Park.
SETZER-VL: Brandon Setzer captured his third career CARS Super Late Model Tour win at Hickory Motor Speedway in the Cloer Construction 300. Setzer is only 30 points behind Raphael Lessard in the championship chase heading to the season finale at Southern National Motorsports Park on November 12th.