Josh Berry and Austin McDaniel put on a battle for the ages during the 100-lap CARS Tour Late Model Stock feature at Concord Speedway (NC) on Saturday evening. Side-by-side and sliding around for the lead in the closing laps is what the fans were treated to as both drivers fought for every inch of race track at the tricky triangular half-mile.
“I hope it was a lot of fun because it was definitely a lot of fun inside the car,” said McDaniel after the race.
Berry had dominated the 100-lap feature until a late caution reset things. McDaniel somehow managed to wrestle the lead away from Berry on the restart with 14 laps to go in turn one and then the battle began.
McDaniel was unable to drive away from Berry the way Berry had driven away from the rest of the field earlier in the race. Berry stayed right with McDaniel and then eventually got back underneath McDaniel.
The two drivers ran door-to-door for close to seven laps before Berry was able to finally clear McDaniel off turn three and retake the lead with four laps to go.
“Our car just took a couple laps to get going,” Berry told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We were slipping and sliding and he was definitely hanging it out there at the end so I think he just got his right rear a little hot there and started getting pretty free and I was able to get back by him.”
McDaniel stayed fairly close to Berry in the final few laps but was never able to mount another serious charge at the JR Motorsports driver.
“When I got by him that was a pretty big sigh of relief, but you’ve still got to hit your marks,” explained Berry. “He was still right there. If I’d have bobbled he’d have been right back under me and the roles would have been reversed. Once I was able to get a little bit of breathing room I started to feel pretty confident but then I started thinking that it was four to go and about time for another caution.”
The caution never came and Berry was able to take his first victory of the season after scoring five wins in 2016.
Even with those five wins last year, Berry was unable to win the series championship due to missing one race to make a start with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Berry said on Saturday that as of now the plan is to be at all 10 CARS Tour events in 2017.
“I don’t have any conflicting dates, but that is subject to change I guess,” Berry said. “Right now for us, we love racing the CARS Tour and we love what they’re doing and they work real hard at it so we plan on being at all of the races.”
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour will be back in action on Saturday, March 25 at Virginia’s Dominion Raceway. The series will run a double-header that day and that race will serve as a lock-in event for the U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) in May.
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by McCallister Precision Marketing, click here.
Speed51.com will have more from Saturday’s action including interviews from all of the major players still to come on the Speed51 Network so stay tuned for that.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Tour Late Model Stock 100
Concord Speedway, Concord, North Carolina
|20||23||Terry Brooks Jr.|