CONCORD, NC – During a night dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers and first responders from the region, Cole Rouse and Josh Berry were remembered by departing fans as winners during the Race To Remember 250 at Concord Speedway on Saturday night. Both drivers improved their championship hopes with the victories with one race remaining in the series schedule.
SUPER LATE MODEL
Preston Peltier stole the Mahle Pistons Pole Award with his last-minute qualifying effort during Fivestar Bodies Knockout Qualifying, earning him the right to lead the field to the green flag. He set the pace for only two circuits until Cole Rouse took over the point and led from lap 3 until lap 36.
On a lap 37 restart, former series champion Cole Timm snagged the point from fellow Toyota driver Rouse but he also was only there for a short time until Rouse retook the top spot on lap 43.
A caution for debris on lap 79 set up a restart with Peltier, who had been stalking Rouse most of the race, alongside of the No. 51 as the field came to green. A former winner at Concord throughout the years in various sanctions, Peltier motored his way around Rouse two laps after the restart, visibly using more than others had in order to keep the point.
Tyler Ankrum’s car lost a hub on lap 93 and pounded the turn two wall, an accident which allowed Rouse another shot at Peltier on the restart. Sideways and using more track than Rouse, Peltier was able to hold the point until the waning laps of the event when Rouse began to up the pressure on the No. 33 of Peltier.
The pair dueled side-by-side for a handful of laps before Rouse used the bumper to move Peltier, skating through to take the lead with only five laps to go. He proceeded to pull away to his second career series win, a victory which vaulted him from second into the top spot in the point standings going into the South Boston finale on October 14.
Peltier, Christian Eckes, Matt Wallace and Matt Craig rounded out the top five finishers in one of the most competitive super late model races the tour has seen at Concord’s half-mile layout.
“What was going through my head was that it was going to be the last lap when, if I wasn’t already past him, I was just going to have to hit him and move him,” Rouse admitted in victory lane. “I had to do it for these guys, we’ve had so many taken away from us this year, so I’m really happy for these guys and that we could get it done today.
“He started to fall off a bit, so once I got past him I wasn’t really worried since we were about 10 car lengths past him,” he continued when asked about the move to get the lead and its championship implications. “South Boston wasn’t on our schedule, but we’re going to have to make it part of our schedule now. We’ll be happy to get there, and it’ll be a new racetrack.”
LATE MODEL STOCK CAR
The final box score of the late model stock car feature may make the race look tame, but from the moments prior to the green flag, it was anything but calm.
Deac McCaskill captured his ninth career Hedgecock Racing Pole Award, moving his series-leading record ahead by another mark. Following qualifying, however, McCaskill and team discovered a leaking tire on his machine, forcing the team to change it and placing him to the rear of the field by series rules.
By virtue of his cousin’s misfortune, Bradley McCaskill led the field to green alongside of Josh Berry. Both former winners at Concord, McCaskill shot out to the early race lead and set the pace until a lap 54 caution for a spin immediately in front of him in turn two.
Berry gave McCaskill fits on the ensuing restart, ultimately passing the No. 07 car for the lead on lap 58 after a side-by-side fight in front of the healthy crowd at Concord. Berry’s teammate and championship rival Anthony Alfredo was involved in an incident in turn one which brought out the second caution in a rash of yellow fever on lap 69, setting up another restart with McCaskill beside Berry.
Josh Berry kept the lead on the restart, but two laps later McCaskill and Justin Carroll made contact entering turn three, sending McCaskill for a spin which ultimately collected a number of other cars and appeared to eliminate the No. 07 from the event after hard contact by Evan Swilling squarely on the rear end. Miraculously, McCaskill was able to continue while Swilling was finished for the night.
After five additional cautions between laps 76 and 113, the race came down to a 12-lap shootout with Berry leading and young Brandon Grosso, with Deac McCaskill and others immediately behind. Exercising his veteran prowess, Berry executed another flawless restart to assert himself as the dominant car.
The JR Motorsports driver cruised to his 12th career series win by 1.018 seconds over Grosso, McCaskill, Tommy Lemons and Cody Haskins. The victory allowed Berry to bypass teammate Alfredo in the standings and close to within single digits of Layne Riggs entering the season finale on October 14 at South Boston Speedway.
“It’s so tough, I can’t put it into words how tough it is on those restarts and you see it on Sunday,” Berry admitted after the race in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “Nine out of ten restarts you can be perfect, but the one that you don’t is the one that everyone remembers you for, so I was just trying to be perfect and do my job. We had a great racecar. I wasn’t sure how good we were going to be, but it obviously paid off. Deac had trouble before the race, and I know he would’ve been tough to beat, but that’s how it goes.
“He’s young and hungry, and I’ve been in that situation, so at that point whatever would’ve happened, I wouldn’t have been surprised,” he continued when asked about Brandon Grosso and his career-best run immediately behind him. “He raced me clean and raced me hard, but he’s improved a lot over the season and his day is coming, for sure.”
While the race win was the story of the night, Berry and the JR Motorsports team were already thinking down the road.
“Last week at Hickory wasn’t good for us in the point situation, but I’m not going to go down without a fight,” he reiterated to those in attendance. “We’re going to keep after it, we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to be ready at South Boston. South Boston is a wild card. I haven’t raced there since it’s been repaved, but I have won there on the old pavement. It’s going to be a totally different animal. We proved tonight we’re not going away and those guys are going to have to run good to beat us because we’re going to be up front.”
The CARS Tour visits South Boston Speedway on October 14 for the series finale, the first time the tour has visited the facility. Located just north of Orange County Speedway, the recently repaved .400-mile oval will host both divisions in the SoBo 250 in six weeks’ time.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at http://www.carsracingtour.com. Fresh content and updates can also be found on the series Facebook page (@carstour), Twitter (@carstour), Instagram (@cars_tour), Snapchat (@carstour) and Youtube channel (/carstour). The series Roku app is also available for installation to see live and on-demand events by following the instructions available at http://www.carstour.tv.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
– Justin Carroll was a contender for the win in the late model stock car race, but had misfortune fall his way while racing in the lead pack. Contact with Bradley McCaskill earned him the privilege of a HANS throw from Bradley McCaskill, a toss which landed on the right side door of the No. 57 car. Perhaps unrelated, Carroll was forced to pit road a few laps later with a loose exhaust pipe as it hung outside the passenger-side door of his Ford, a problem which ultimately eliminated him from contention.
– Championship contender Anthony Alfredo was involved in a crash with Jared Fryar on lap 92, an incident which eliminated both drivers from the race. Alfredo suffered the worst fate in the championship fight, losing nine points to Layne Riggs by virtue of his 17th place finish.
– At the beginning of the season, super late model winner Cole Rouse had full intentions of running twelve super late model races with Kyle Busch Motorsports, presumably with the CARS Tour. As the season wore on, the team changed their approach slightly, but Rouse found two one-off races with owners mid-season to continue his pursuit of the title, a move which has proven to be beneficial entering the season finale. Before Saturday, South Boston was not on the team’s schedule, but given the circumstances in which they enter that event, it’s extremely likely that Kyle Busch Motorsports will field a No. 51 Toyota for Rouse at South Boston in pursuit of their first series championship.
– Dozens of fallen military heroes and veterans, along with first responders, were honored by teams and the CARS Tour during the event. Each car carried the name of someone who paid the ultimate price for their country in addition to various branches of service and charity organizations. In an emotional pre-race moment, late model stock polesitter Deac McCaskill was given the dogtags of his soldier from a family member to carry with him during the Race To Remember 250.
CARS Super Late Model Tour
Race To Remember 250
Concord Speedway – August 26, 2017
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
1. 51 Cole Rouse 125
2. 33 Preston Peltier 125
3. 15 Christian Eckes 125
4. 6 Matt Wallace 125
5. 54 Matt Craig 125
6. 34 Nolan Pope 125
7. 87 Matt Thomas 125
8. 4 Brandon Setzer 125
9. 49 Jeff Batten 125
10. 58 Tyler Ankrum 93 Accident
11. 57 Cole Timm 86 Mechanical
12. 37 Dan Speeney 79 Mechanical
13. 7 Tyler Church 43 Mechanical
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Race To Remember 250
Concord Speedway – August 26, 2017
POS NUM DRIVER LAPS REASON OUT
1. 88b Josh Berry 125
2. 32 Brandon Grosso 125
3. 08 Deac McCaskill 125
4. 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr. 125
5. 2 Cody Haskins 125
6. 12m Austin McDaniel 125
7. 24 Craig Stallard 125
8. 99 Layne Riggs 125
9. 23 Terry Brooks, Jr. 125
10. 14 Ryan Repko 121
11. 07 Bradley McCaskill 116 Mechanical
12. 18g Ty Gibbs 111 Accident
13. 88 Chris Davis 111 Accident
14. 74 Ronald Hill 93 Accident
15. 12g Andrew Garcia 93 Accident
16. 81 Jared Fryar 92 Accident
17. 8 Anthony Alfredo 92 Accident
18. 28 Chris Hudspeth 89 Accident
19. 57 Justin Carroll 76 Mechanical
20. 18 Evan Swilling 71 Accident
21. 96 Danny O’Quinn, Jr. 70 Mechanical