BERRY, LESSARD DOMINATE LEAD 2 REAL ESTATE 200
CONCORD, NC (August 28, 2016) — On a night when Mother Nature tried her best to take top honors, drivers with big-name connections to NASCAR teams swept the win column at Concord Speedway on Saturday night with Josh Berry (LMSC) and Raphael Lessard (SLM) taking the wins in each half of the CARS Tour Lead 2 Real Estate 200. Each driver also started their respective races from the pole position.
LATE MODEL STOCK RECAP:
Josh Berry set a new CARS Tour track record in Hedgecock Pole Qualifying, bettering the previous record by over a tenth of a second. Last year’s polesitter Myatt Snider flanked Berry when the field game to the green flag.
On the initial start, Snider took control from the outside of the front row and led the opening handful of circuits in his return to the tour. But just four laps later, he slipped in turn one and opened the door for Josh Berry to snag the lead for the first time of the night.
While Josh Berry began to pull away, series points leader Deac McCaskill fought his way forward after an internal engine part failure in qualifying forced him to start last on the field. By the latter portions of the race, McCaskill fought his way well into the top ten.
The lone caution of the race was displayed on lap 90 when Layne Riggs suffered a blown left rear tire. The No. 99 Ford spun in turn three and nosed up to the outside retaining wall in turn four with minimal damage, though Riggs did retire from the event.
Berry and Justin Carroll, who ran second for most of the event, dueled for the top spot in turn one on the ensuing restart. Carroll was unable to do anything with Berry’s Chevrolet and was forced to do battle with others including Snider, Christian Eckes and McCaskill.
The final ten laps were all Josh Berry’s for the taking as he cruised to his sixth career CARS Late Model Stock Tour victory. Snider trailed behind in second with Eckes, McCaskill and Carroll rounding out the top five.
“I heard it change tones with about 50 to go when I was in lapped traffic and at first I thought it was the cars I was around, but then I realized it was mine and I didn’t say anything until after the race because I didn’t want them to start worrying about it,” said Berry in victory lane when asked about the exhaust pipe that had worked its way loose and was hanging outside the door in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “Luckily, it didn’t hurt us too bad. What a great car we had, just a credit to these guys and they work so hard. It’s been hot and we’ve worked hard these last couple days to bring a great racecar here tonight and I feel very fortunate. This is another racetrack I’ve won at in my first try, and to my knowledge there’s only one left I’ve got to win at and that’s Martinsville, and I’d really like to get a clock.”
“It would take a lot of luck [to win the title], a whole lot of luck,” Berry said when asked about the championship picture. “He (McCaskill) had some misfortune tonight and I know he would’ve been tough to beat. I don’t wish any bad luck on those guys, I have a ton of respect for Deac and we’re going to work really hard to upset him because we know he’s going into next week as the favorite. I just have to thank everyone on this team from Speedco, my dad, Dale, Kelley, LW and anyone else who is watching on CARS Tour TV and here who stuck with us through the weather.”
SUPER LATE MODEL RECAP:
With the rainout of Mahle Pistons Pole Qualifying earlier in the afternoon, the super late model portion of the Lead 2 Real Estate 200 was set per the rulebook, using owners points to line up the starting field. Championship leader Raphael Lessard led the field to the green flag for the first time in his CARS Tour career with Brandon Setzer to his outside.
Lessard quickly jumped to the point on the initial green flag and led the field through the first five circuits. On lap six, Quin Houff bypassed the No. 99 in turn two, but Lessard slipped and made heavy contact with the outside wall as Houff completed the pass.
A competition caution on lap 25 due to wet weather earlier in the day forced the field to regroup for a restart afterwards, and from the outside of the front row, Lessard recaptured the point from Houff once racing resumed. Houff, along with Zane Smith and Matt Craig, followed in Lessard’s tire tracks through the mid stages of the event, looking for a chance to pounce.
Caution flew once again on lap 55 when third place driver Zane Smith literally parked his car on the backstraightaway. He exited the machine quickly, removed his helmet, and sat down in the infield grass. He was hurriedly tended to by medical personnel with fluids and oxygen to treat his fatigue but was done racing for the night.
Lessard once again took command of the race on the restart, stretching his advantage over Houff and company by nearly four seconds at times during the final stretch of green flag racing. The French-Canadian teenager cruised to his second career CARS Super Late Mode Tour powered by VP Fuels win by 3.2 seconds over Preston Peltier, Houff, Craig, and his David Gilliland Racing teammate Tanner Thorson.
“I thought I may have thrown it away because I thought we may have gotten a flat tire, but we ended up in victory lane, so it was all good,” said Lessard in Edelbrock Victory Lane when asked about the lap 6 impact with the backstretch wall. “It actually made the car a little bit worse because it got tight and I was worrying that at the end I wouldn’t be able to be there. But David Gilliland Racing gave me an awesome car and my Toyota Camry was fantastic to drive. I can’t thank my team enough. But we’re not racing for points, we’re looking to win every race.”
“This one is for my dad because it’s his birthday tomorrow,” he continued. “Everything he has done for me and my career is awesome and I can’t thank him enough.”
Lessard became the first two-time super late model winner this season with his victory on Saturday night. It was the third victory for David Gilliland racing over the first seven events of the year. Defending series champion Cole Timm won for the team at Tri-County Motor Speedway in June.
Deac McCaskill may be the luckiest driver in the CARS Racing Tour. Just when everyone thought qualifying would rain out, series officials got the track dry in time for late model stock teams to make their qualifying efforts. As soon as McCaskill pulled on track, something went awry in his engine, forcing him to the pits for repairs. The crew discovered a broken lifter that, had qualifying washed out, likely would have broken in the opening laps of the race and relegated McCaskill to a did-not-finish.
Concord was not kind to super late model competitors this weekend, especially cars numbered “16” as Lucas Jones wrecked during Friday’s open practice and damaged the car past the point of repair. Vinnie Miller’s team also loaded up after practice on Friday with issues that they discovered were unable to be fixed in time for the race on Saturday.
Concord resident Justin Carroll embodied the spirit of the Stäubli Hometown Hero Award that is given away at nearly every CARS Tour event on Saturday night. Though Concord does not run a weekly program, and therefore the award was not bestowed on any single driver, Carroll put on a show for his hometown fans worthy of some kind of recognition. After two starts earlier this year, Carroll started the evening in third and ran second most of the night before a late caution. Unafraid to wrestle with the big names of the CARS Tour, Carroll wrinkled a few body panels in his fight for the first top five finish of his career and served notice that the No. 57 car may be a force to be reckoned with when they unload at a CARS Tour event.
As if two David Gilliland Racing cars weren’t enough for the field to contend with, the Toyota development team has plans to bring three drivers to Southern National next weekend. Lessard will be in his familiar No. 99 while Chase Purdy and Cole Timm will be making starts with the team. Purdy recently ran with Hawk McCall Motorsports on the Late Model Stock Tour, while Timm piloted the No. 97 to victory lane for DGR in his only start for them in June. Timm is also a former winner at Southern National, capturing the inaugural series event there in March 2015.
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Lead 2 Real Estate 200
Concord Speedway – August 27, 2016
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
1. 88b Josh Berry 100
2. 2 Myatt Snider 100
3. 1 Christian Eckes 100
4. 08 Deac McCaskill 100
5. 57 Justin Carroll 100
6. 12m Austin McDaniel 100
7. 5 Stephen Leicht 100
8. 27 Tommy Lemons 100
9. 21 Travis Swaim 100
10. 98 Stefan Parsons 99
11. 28 Chris Hudspeth 99
12. 7 Justin Crider 99
13. 42 Craig Stallard 99
14. 23 Terry Brooks 98
15. 88 Chris Davis 98
16. 31 Thomas Beane 98
17. 99 Layne Riggs 89 Accident
18. 74 Ronald Hill 83 Mechanical
19. 25m Shaun Mangum 48 Mechanical
20. 32 Jerry Miracle 16 Mechanical
CARS Super Late Model Tour
Lead 2 Real Estate 200
Concord Speedway – August 27, 2016
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
1. 99 Raphael Lessard 100
2. 33 Preston Peltier 100
3. 17 Quin Houff 100
4. 54 Matt Craig 100
5. 97 Tanner Thorson 100
6. 83 Joey Padgett 100
7. 66 Steve Wallace 100
8. 4 Ali Kern 100
9. 6 Brandon Setzer 100
10. 15 Christian Eckes 99
11. 4p Michael Pilla 99
12. 15f Brad Rogers 99
13. 77 Zane Smith 55 Fatigue
14. 12 Harrison Burton 54 Mechanical
15. 49 Jeff Batten 34 Power Steering
16. 16 Lucas Jones 0 DNS
17. 16m Vinnie Miller 0 DNS