The dog days of summer have been very kind to North Carolina Super Late Model driver Matt Craig thus far in 2019. With temperatures rising throughout the country, the driver of car No. 54 finds himself on a hot streak of his own. Fresh off a Southern Super Series win on a hot day at Montgomery Motor Speedway, Craig made his way to Southern National Motorsports Park Saturday afternoon and won the second race of the inaugural PRA Super Late Model Tour season.
Craig did it all as he was strong in practice, set fast time in qualifying and dominated the 125-lap event.
“It’s a good feeling to get a victory,” Craig said. “I really like racing this track and we always seem to do well here. This Rowdy Manufacturing machine has been great the last few times out. It’s really been a game changer for us.”
Craig won eight races a year ago and two of those wins came at Southern National. The Kannapolis, North Carolina driver was happy to return to the track and hit his stride Saturday night.
“I can’t say that we had a bad year in 2018, but we were just a little bit behind,” Craig stated. “We were very good in 2017 and it’s not been until now that we are back to where we were.”
Early in the race Craig caught up with the back of the pack while he was the leader. His car was strong enough that the strategy of lapping Mason Diaz and Brandon Setzer was in play to prevent them from contending late.
“We wanted to lap them. It was a combination of them falling so far back and us being out front that we tried to do it.”
Diaz was lapped, while Setzer was on the tail-end of the lead lap when the first yellow flag waved Both drivers eventually recovered to finish in the top five.
When the race restarted, Craig out-dueled Jared Fryar -- the only previous PRA Super Late Model Tour winner -- to score the win.
“The 54 (Craig) was tough tonight,” Fryar said. “We were good, but he had us covered.”
Fryar led the early laps and pulled away before falling back to save his stuff.
Setzer was forced to charge from the rear of the field after minor crash damage hindered his process.
“We thought we were going to be good and we missed it,” Setzer said. “I know we ended up third and had a good battle with Diaz for the spot, but we weren't close to Craig tonight. We have some work to do before Hickory.”
Mason Diaz was fourth and Kodie Conner completed the top five.
The next PRA Super Late Model event will be on September 24 at Orange County Speedway (NC).
- Matt Craig
- Jared Fryar
- Brandon Setzer
- Mason Diaz
- Kodie Conner
- Trevor Noles
- Toby Grynewicz
- Tate Fogleman
- Jeff Batten
- Tyler Church
- Sarah Cornett-Ching
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com