Mooresville, NC – With 10 laps remaining in the Late Model Stock portion of the Throwback 276, Concord, North Carolina native Justin Carroll found himself in a close battle with fellow competitors Austin McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo for the win. Both McDaniel and Carroll were searching for their first career CARS Tour victory, while Alfredo was attempting to capitalize on a solid points night after points leader Layne Riggs was involved in an incident earlier in the evening.
A bad restart on lap 99 forced Carroll to surrender the lead to McDaniel, and although Carroll was able to keep pace with him, he had been unsuccessful in passing McDaniel for over 30 consecutive green-flag laps. The close battle between the two brought Alfredo into the mix for the lead, which created an intense three-way battle for the lead in the race’s closing stages. Eventually, Carroll was able to pull away from the machines of Alfredo and McDaniel in the closing lap of the event.
“It was a crazy race between me, Austin (McDaniel) and Anthony Alfredo,” Carroll said. Austin and I had been racing hard the entire race, but almost every time I got clear of him, the caution would come out and revert everything back to the last completed lap. Then Anthony got in there, and it turned into one heck of a show. I can’t believe we came out on top, this is probably the biggest win of my career.”
The win, in front of a near sell-out crowd at Hickory Motor Speedway, was Carroll’s first in his CARS Tour career, which was made more special by his #90 IBCI/Helig-Myers paint scheme that honored late NASCAR driver Dick Trickle and late NASCAR owner Junie Donleavy.
Carroll’s win at Hickory makes him the seventh different winner in the CARS LMSC Tour this season, which eclipses the division’s record of six different single-season winners which came back in the CARS Tour’s inaugural year in 2015. Of those seven different winners, five of them have gone to victory lane in the CARS Tour for the first time in their careers, including series points leaders Layne Riggs and Anthony Alfredo, as well as Kyle Busch Motorsports development driver Myatt Snider.
Despite the variety of different winners, a trip to victory lane has not been an easy task to accomplish for any of the CARS LMSC Tour competitors, as seven of the 11 races have been decided by a lead change in the final ten laps of the event. Both races of the inaugural QDMA Duels at Dominion were decided by a drag race to the finish line, with Layne Riggs edging series veteran Deac McCaskill by .041 seconds, while Jared Fryar was declared the winner in a drag race with Jeff Oakley after the former was found to have an illegal engine in post-race inspection. The 2017 Do The Dew 200 at Tri-County Speedway saw Josh Berry pass leader Garret Campbell on the final lap of a green-white-checkered attempt to earn his 11th CARS LMSC Tour victory, denying Campbell his first series win.
A main contributor to the strength of competition in the 2017 CARS LMSC season is the division’s even mix of experienced veterans and talented rookies. Veterans such as McCaskill, Berry and Tommy Lemons Jr. have been regulars of the LMSC Tour since the series’ first year in 2015, and have won approximately 55% of the LMSC Tour races between them. The division also serves as a stepping-stone for rookies who look to move up the NASCAR ladder one day, among them being Ty Gibbs – the 14 year-old grandson of NASCAR and former NFL coach Joe Gibbs – who currently drives a late model fielded by owner and chassis builder Greg Marlowe.
“I had known Coy (Gibbs) in the past, and he was looking for someone to help start Ty’s career, and I had the cars,” Marlowe said. “Right now we need to focus on how to stay up front, as well as focus on Ty’s needs in the car. Experience is what we need, and the more we are at the race track, the better we will be.”
Gibbs is one of the many rookies to show promise in his limited starts on the 2017 season, which includes a career-best 2nd place finish during the series’ first trip to Anderson Motor Speedway in July. However, Gibbs has encountered his fair share of issues during the season, including a blown engine during the Throwback 276, and a frightening crash at Orange County Speedway that saw Gibbs’ car flip upside down after contact with competitor Stefan Parsons. Despite the issues, Marlowe remains confident in Gibbs’ abilities as his team prepares for a full-time run in 2018, and he believes that the CARS Tour is a great series for any young or experienced driver to find success in.
“The CARS Tour has one of the most competitive late model divisions in the country,” Marlowe said. “They have a really great thing going, and they keep trying their best to make everything better for those who are involved. I hope the series keeps growing and that they continue to support the late models like how the late models support them.”
Gibbs will be among the CARS LMSC drivers that will make the trip to Concord, North Carolina for the CARS Tour’s second visit to Concord Speedway in 2017. In the season opening race at the track, Austin McDaniel was able to pass Josh Berry with 15 laps to go, but was not able to hold off the series veteran who made the race-winning pass on McDaniel with eight laps remaining. McDaniel will be looking for redemption at his home track on August 26th, as he attempts to record his first career series win after finishing in the Top 5 six times in his CARS Tour career.
“If it gets down to it, I’ll bump anyone out of the way who is in front at the end of the race,” McDaniel said. “I’m getting tired of finishing second, and we’ve come close so many times. Plus, we’ve been fast all year, which is very fortunate, but we’re still searching for that one more spot in order to get into the winner’s circle.”
The Race to Remember 250 at Concord Speedway will serve as the penultimate race of the 2017 CARS LMSC season, which has also featured one of the closest points battles in the series’ brief three-year history. Layne Riggs and Anthony Alfredo are currently tied for the series points lead with 304 points each, while Josh Berry sits only 14 points back after being involved in a late-race accident at Hickory. Berry is undefeated in CARS Tour competition at Concord despite only racing there twice, and his experience at the track could put him in a great position to tighten the points battle between him, Riggs and Alfredo as they all seek their first CARS LMSC Tour championship.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at 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 www.carstour.tv.
-CARS Tour Press Release & Photo