A night full of twists and turns could not prevent the status quo of the 2018 CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour season, as Bobby McCarty won at Carteret County Speedway (NC) for his fourth win in seven series races.
McCarty started third in the 125-lap event in the series’ first trip to Carteret County, but worked his way up to second in the early laps. A competition caution flew on Lap 66, which set up a chaotic sequence of events.
First, McCarty, on the outside line for the restart by virtue of running second, was shuffled to sixth as racers drove by in the preferred groove. Over the next 15 laps, McCarty picked his way through the field, moving into third place.
Despite running third, McCarty remained well behind the top two, Layne Riggs and Josh Berry. That duo had paced the final practice session and started on the front row, and battled for the lead throughout the second half of the race.
“We got back to third after we were shuffled back on the restart,” McCarty said in victory lane. “I thought about catching them, but I decided to just match their pace.“
However, disaster and controversy quickly struck for the top two on Lap 102. Josh Berry and Layne Riggs made contact while battling for the lead. Riggs spun because of the contact, while Berry continued on. However, in an unrelated incident immediately in front of the leaders, Sarah Cornett-Ching spun across the track, collecting Berry.
The incident ended Berry’s night with extensive front-end damage, while Riggs was sent to the rear of the field by CARS Tour officials for being involved in the caution.
“I got into Layne,” Berry told Speed51.com about the incident. “I didn’t really mean to. We were racing hard, it was time to race here at the end. I got into him, he spun, we got it straight. We were all good, and then some weapon just spun out on her own.
“In the end, it was my fault, I started it,” Berry continued. “I hate it, we’ve got another torn up car. But we’ll fix it and be back next time.”
This allowed McCarty to restart in the lead, alongside Ty Gibbs. McCarty took the lead on the restart, while Riggs charged up to second following his penalty.
While Riggs was able to close on McCarty in the closing laps, McCarty held on for the victory.
“I hate it for Layne [Riggs],” McCarty said. “I am good friends with Layne. We talked a lot this week. He had a heartbreaker last weekend at Ace [Speedway, NC]. I think he had the best car here today before what happened.
“I never gave up. You never know what can happen in these things,” McCarty continued. “We just stay positive and keep pushing. We definitely didn’t have the car, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
As for Riggs, he was extremely displeased with the call to penalize him for involvement in the incident, arguing he never lost forward progress or the lead.
“We never lost forward momentum when the 88 [of Berry] dumped us,” Riggs told Speed51.com. “I was straight and going back on throttle to go forward. The caution was from the 88 who tried to dodge a lapped car that was spinning. The caution was for that, I was in the lead, I never lost forward momentum, and I think that was the wrong call.
“Chris Ragle wanted to put on a show for the fans,” Riggs continued. “I don’t think the fans enjoyed that call.”
Chris Ragle, the CARS Response Energy Tour series director, maintained that Riggs was involved in the incident with Berry, which was the cause of the caution – not the subsequent incident involving Berry and Cornett-Ching.
“We felt the 88 spun, dumped the 99 [of Riggs],” Ragle said. “Obviously, when the 88 tried to go by, the 44 [of Cornett-Ching] spun the 88 and there was an incident. At that point was probably when I threw the yellow [flag], but the yellow was coming out anyways, because I was about to penalize the 88 for rough driving on the 99.
“I felt he dumped Riggs and he was going to get penalized anyways,” Ragle continued. “But you can’t penalize somebody under green so you have to throw the yellow to penalize him.
“So the 99 spun, there was an incident that took care of itself with the 88, and that’s how it all happened. 99 was part of the caution because he got spun, no different than the Setzer-Lessard incident.”
Ragle added that, to his determination, Riggs did not maintain the lead or forward progress, but that ultimately it wouldn’t matter in the series’ ruling because he was part of the caution with Berry.
“He definitely didn’t stay in front of Berry,” Ragle said. “The 88 backed off but went past the 99. That’s probably why the 88 got hit by the 44, and not the 99. I don’t really think that’s the case. Unfortunately, due to him being spun out and done wrong, he’s part of the caution. It takes two objects – not necessarily two people’s fault, but two objects, two racecars – to have a caution. One hitting one, and the other’s getting spun. So you automatically get part of the caution.”
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour returns to action on July 14 at another first-time stop for the series, Kingsport Speedway (TN). The Late Model Stock teams will compete for 100 laps in that event. The next CARS Super Late Model Tour event will be August 4, when both series convene at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) for the Throwback 276.
Race fans who missed Saturday’s race at Carteret County Speedway (NC) can click here to visit our Trackside Now to view our live updates from the event.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars Unofficial Results
Carteret County Speedway (NC) – June 24, 2018