The CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars will begin a new season Saturday afternoon at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, NC. With a stout entry list of 36 driver pre-entered, anticipation for the start of the season is at an all-time high.
To get you ready for the 2018 season, our resident "Stat Boy" Elgin Traylor takes a look at what's to come in this edition of "By the Numbers" on Speed51.com.
0: The number of starts that defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion Lee Pulliam has made on the CARS Tour. For the first time, Pulliam will challenge for a series victory this weekend at Tri-County.
4: The 2018 season will see new venues on the calendar. The CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars will make stops at these four new tracks: Wake County Speedway (NC), Carteret County Speedway (NC), Ace Speedway (NC) and Kingsport Speedway (TN).
7: Hickory Motor Speedway has previously hosted seven CARS Tour events. In those seven races, there have been five different winners. The Late Model Stock Cars will return to Hickory on May 5 and August 4 this season.
9: Deac McCaskill holds the record for most fast time awards in CARS Tour Late Model Stock history. He had five in 2015, three in 2016 and one in 2017 for a total of nine.
12: The CARS Tour will feature 12 regulars known as the "Touring 12." Drivers in the program include: Josh Berry, Sam Mayer, Layne Riggs, Charlie Watson, Brandon Pierce, Cody Haskins, Craig Moore, Ty Gibbs, Ronald Hill, Bradley McCaskill, Justin Johnson and Grayson Cullather.
This list does not include Lee Pulliam, Deac McCaskill, Tommy Lemons Jr., Timothy Peters, Austin McDaniel, Justin Carroll and Matt Bowling. All of these drivers combined with the Touring 12 will create deep fields throughout the season.
12: 2017 CARS Tour Late Model Stock champion Josh Berry has 12 career wins in the series. After winning over half the races in 2016, a missed race (to make a NASCAR XFINITY Series start) cost him the championship. 2017 started slow, but Berry redeemed himself and won his first career touring series championship.
24: All three CARS Tour Late Model Stock championships have been decided by a total of 24 points. Brayton Haws won the first by a slim five points.
111: A total of 111 different drivers have raced in the Late Model Stock Car series. Last year, 71 drivers earned points along the way.
1057: Deac McCaskill is the only driver to lead over 1000 laps in CARS Tour racing. That includes both Late Model Stocks and the Super Late Models as well.
Too Much Talent: When you look at how deep this field is, it might be hard for some drivers to accept that finishing in the top 10 will be a difficult task. Champions, winners and talented young guns make up this deep field.
Credit is Due: He’s been in the top 10 some 18 times in 25 starts, but a victory has eluded Austin McDaniel. Now, he starts the season off hoping to add to his two top-10 finishes at Tri-County and to his 2016 performance when he led 31 laps.
The War: Picking a champion in this crowd is going to be tough. We would think the smart money would be on Josh Berry or Layne Riggs to pull off the task. Sam Mayer did turn some heads during Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna with his performance and will be driving for JR Motorsports. We could also see Ty Gibbs or another driver in the mix. Either way, the journey starts at Tri-County.
Past CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car Champions
2017 Josh Berry
2016 Deac McCaskill
2015 Brayton Haws
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com