Matt McCall Recovers From Mid Race Spin to Win Second Thanksgiving Classic

Matt McCall and track owner Michael Diaz in victory lane following McCall’s thrilling 2018 Thanksgiving Classic win. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Lucama, NC– When you only get to race once a year you have to make the most it. Matt McCall most certainly did so yet again this weekend at Southern National Motorsports Park for the 2018 Thanksgiving Classic. Because of obvious reasons, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series crew chief only gets to run one race a year and for the past two he has taken the hardware and the money back home with him.

Coming into the weekend McCall picked up right where he left off last year showing the fastest time in final practice on Friday afternoon. All on track activity for Saturday was completely washed out due to hours worth of rain so we did not get to see if anyone could make adjustments and post a faster time. With that being said as well as missing some of the heavy hitters like Lee Pulliam, Tommy Lemons Jr., Josh Berry, and Peyton Sellers, McCall – along with four time track champion Deac McCaskill – was an obvious favorite to take home the checkered. He backed up his practice efforts with a third place qualifying effort.

When it was go time McCall spent most of the race in the runner up position chasing around Deac McCaskil, who was running just fast enough to stay out in front of the field. Things, however, took a turn for the worse for McCall just past the halfway point of the feature when we got turned around exiting turn two after a lapped car spun in front of the leaders. Because he was deemed as part of the caution, race control moved him to the back of the lead lap cars, ultimately creating one of the best comebacks in recent Thanksgiving Classics.

“They pay out money at lap one-hundred and I got a little greedy trying to get that money and it put me in a bad spot,”McCall said in victory lane. “Fortunately I knew there were enough laps. I even tried to fight it [the call to the rear] there to keep our position but we were not able to. We knew we had to pick them off and try to save, but there wasn’t a whole lot of saving there for the last run. Fortunately it ran green and I believe all the guys that got the outside had the advantage. All in all it was a lot of fun.”

This years race, though it featured the same Racing Roulette rules, once again added a new element to the race – controlled cautions. These would be caution periods where teams could come down pit road and not lose positions to the other cars that decided to pit. Officials would slow the pace of the cars left on the speedway and give those on pit road four laps to go to work. One of the ideas here is to take away the traditional break you always see in some of these big races. We asked McCall after the race if that changed the way he and his team approached the race.

“It was going to change it big in my opinion when the caution came out and we got put to the back,”McCall explained. “Potentially if that was not the last controlled caution we would have pitted and it would have looked like their was a little strategy involved. I think the way it played out it didn’t look as good as it could have been. I think it was still a little bit hard to under stand and a little open ended. I think there is potential there I just don’t think it can become a weekly thing.”

Once McCall was able to pick is way through the field with the help of an incredibly fast car and timely cautions things really started to heat up in the closing laps between he and McCaskill. The pass for the lead came with under five laps to go where fans got to witness some of the closes and cleanest racing for a win all year long.

“That’s Deac,”McCall said when asked about how close the two raced each other in the closing laps. “He always does [races clean] and he even raced me clean when I piled drove the wall there. I got loose off two and decided there was no reason to lift because it was going to get ugly. It was enough to get through three and four to get the checkered.”

2018 Thanksgiving Classic OFFICIAL Results;

1          #51     Matt McCall; 200

2          #08     Deac McCskill; 200

3          #07     Bradley McCaskill; 200

4          #22     Bobby McCarty; 200

5          #99     Layne Riggs; 200

6          #12     Brandon Pierce; 200

7          #01     Philip Morris; 200

8          #17     Stacey Puryear; 200

9          #63     Tyler Matthews; 200

10       #03     Brenden Queen; 200

11       #17     Taylor Gray; 200

12       #54     Drew Dollar; 200

13       #44     Justin Johnson; 200

14       #21     Mike Darne; 200

15       #30     Clifton Daniels; 200

16       #24     Colin Garrett; 199

17       #8       Tyler Hughes; 199

18       #55     Mark Wertz; 199

19       #82     Mike Ganoe; 198

20       #92     Casey Wyatt; 198

21       #2       Dennis Holdren; 195

22       #36     Chris Johnson; 195

23       #06     Davin Scites; 194

24       #9       Thomas Burbage; 193

25       #94     Robbie Babb; 169

26       #12     Ryan Wilson; 161

27       #4       Jonathan Findley; 161

28       #81     Mini Tyrell; 146

29       #19     Cameron Bowen; 138

30       #01b   Camden Gullie; 91

31       #06     Terry Dease; 90

32       #23     Terry Brooks; 64

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