ROUGEMONT — In a pair of intense races, it was only appropriate that deuces went to victory lane in both halves of the Thrifty Tire Center / Puryear Tank Lines Mid-Atlantic Classic on Saturday night at Orange County Speedway. Bobby McCarty piloted his No. 22 to his second win of the season, while Trevor Noles did the same with his No. 22 after a second chance following a flat tire during a caution late in the event.
Late Model Stock recap
Rougemont native Craig Moore led the field to green after pacing the competition in qualifying, capturing the Hedgecock Pole Award in his second visit to Orange County with the tour in 2019. Josh Berry gained the advantage on Moore during the first lap and began to set the pace for the event.
Leading the field into turn three on the third lap, Berry’s car erupted in white smoke, and over a half-dozen cars behind him slid into each other or the retaining wall, creating a massive melee in the oil left behind by Berry’s machine when the flywheel failed and punctured the oil filter. Moore, Mini Tyrrell, Brandon Pierce, Layne Riggs, Trevor Ward, Brody Pope, Ronald Hill, and Deac McCaskill were among those who received damage in the incident.
Jonathan Findley led the field to the restart in a career-best showing, but Justin Carroll took the point from him after the lap three restart and showed the way until Bobby McCarty, from his deep starting spot, reeled in the No. 57 and bypassed him for command of the race on lap 22.
McCarty and the No. 22 Toyota dominated the rest of the event despite challenges from his teammate, Sammy Smith, in the closing laps. The defending series champion pulled away to a 1.621-second margin of victory over Smith, Findley, Carroll and Deac McCaskill.
“It started raining in qualifying and I couldn’t get the car to grip up, so we started eleventh or twelfth or whatever it was,” McCarty said before elaborating on the accident he avoided early in the race. “I seen smoke, and I seen the left side of the 2 car in the fence. As soon as I seen the 2 car and the smoke, I just went low. At the end of the day, our cars haven’t been the best before this. We really need to get back to where we were last year when we were the car you had to show up to beat. We just have to focus on that and get back to winning races and I really feel like we were stepping in the right direction this weekend.”
Due to Berry’s misfortune early, the 11-point margin he enjoyed in the standings now flips to McCarty’s advantage. The defending titlist enters the race at South Boston with an unofficial nine point cushion.
“We’re going there to win. We can’t get caught up in the points, we have to just get our cars better,” McCarty stated emphatically. “We’re going to win, and I couldn’t care less where everyone else finishes. At the end of the day, they all have to beat this 22 car. We’re going to go to work, we still have some work to do. You gotta count your blessings, and we’ll move on to South Boston.”
Super Late Model recap
Matt Craig laid down the gauntlet in Mahle Pistons Pole Qualifying, grabbing the pole and starting where he finished three weeks prior at Hickory. Once the green flag dropped, the field patiently clicked off the laps behind Craig and second place Brandon Setzer until the field approached halfway.
As the lap count grew higher into the triple digits, Giovanni Bromante worked his way from deep into the top ten up to third and began to reel in the top two racers. Simultaneously, former third place driver Trevor Noles began to noticeably fall off the pace with an apparent mechanical issue.
A caution with 30 laps to go, moments before Noles would have gone a lap down, allowed the No. 22 team to change what turned out to be a flat right rear tire.
On the initial restart, Brandon Setzer lost control in turn three, sliding up into Matt Craig and causing his car to contact the outside wall, while everyone scattered behind the spinning car of Setzer and its smokescreen. Aside from Setzer and Craig, all drivers narrowly made it through unscathed.
The second attempt at the restart allowed Giovanni Bromante to restart beside Craig, and the pair of young drivers duked it out for the race lead over the final 20 laps, making contact multiple times as they fought for the $10,000 payday. While they raced, Noles was quickly charging through the field with a fresher right rear tire, and caught the pair inside of 10 laps to go.
Bromante took the lead briefly on lap 140, but after Craig drove back around him on lap 141, Noles moved into second and found a way around the No. 54 car on lap 146.
A restart following an incident involving Steve Wallace, Tate Fogleman and Kodie Conner was the closest competition Noles had after taking the lead. He pulled away over the final two lap sprint to a 0.602-second advantage en route to his first CARS Tour win and the biggest of his career. Craig, Bromante, Corey Heim and Stephen Nasse rounded out the top five.
“I didn’t know what happened, I heard something pop and I thought it was in the front end, but evidently it wasn’t,” Noles said of the flat tire which ultimately helped him to win the race. “That was a gift from God right there. I think we had a really good car, a good enough car to win it. I just can’t thank everyone who’s helped me on this car [enough]. This is, by far, one of the biggest wins of my career, and I couldn’t be happier than to do it with the CARS Tour.
“I knew we had a good car, and had a good right rear on it,” he continued in Edelbrock Victory Lane with pleasant disbelief on his face. “It was pretty hectic coming through the field, cars were going everywhere. It was a long race, but I’m glad we’re standing here in victory lane.”
The next event for the CARS Racing Tour will take place Nov. 2 at South Boston Speedway. Both series championships will be decided in a pair of 125-lap contests at the south-central Virginia facility.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at CARSRacingTour.com, or follow them on Facebook (@CARSTour), Twitter (@CARSTour), Instagram (@cars_tour), and Snapchat (@carstour). The series also has its own YouTube channel, Roku channel (available through its TV website), and a new publicly available Amazon FireTV app.