It’s hard to believe that a touring series point leader and general regional heavyweight like Deac McCaskill would be considered a surprise winner, but McCaskill managed to write that headline Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway by defeating Josh Berry and win the CARS Late Model Stock Cloer Construction 300.

Berry is considered the absolute master of Hickory, having won twenty Late Model Stock races at the facility in the last three years. His stuff on the road has been just as good, going 7-for-11 in his career on the Tour. So when Berry throttled his way past McCaskill two-thirds of the way through the race, it was hard not to assume that Berry was well on his way to another win.

But McCaskill, even after having charged from a miserable qualifying effort that left him 14th on the grid, was saving just enough to make a run on Berry. With twenty laps to go, McCaskill suddenly erased the deficit and pulled alongside Berry. The fans rose to their feet as they say fifteen straight laps of amazing door-to-door action in which the two veterans never touched each other.

Officially, there would be six lead changes in that span as Berry kept the momentum on the outside while McCaskill clawed on the inside. McCaskill fell back in line once as they approached lapped traffic, but the succeeding run scooted him past. From there, McCaskill cruised to a convincing victory over Berry. It was his first triumph at the historic facility.

McCaskill’s second CARS win of the season couldn’t come at a better time, giving him a solid – but certainly not completely safe – points lead heading into the Southern National finale on November 12th. Points rival Lemons started on pole and finished 3rd, but will still need McCaskill to finish outside of the top-ten to see his path to the title come to fruition.

“That race was tough”, a jubilant McCaskill told the crowd. “I have a lot of respect for Josh. And racing him, he’s such a challenge, it was unreal. He was moving around, trying to find some grip. But it was all clean. We race a lot with each other and he made it a lot of fun. I can’t believe we finally won at this place.”

“I was worried about the tires, but I also wanted to get up to the lead early. Once I got there, I let Justin [Carroll] go and I let Josh go. But by the last ten laps, I was a lot better than he was.”

Berry was unable to give a full comment as he rushed to hop into his Super Late Model, but quickly echoed McCaskill that it was a good, fun race and that McCaskill just simply had the better car by the checkered.

Behind McCaskill, Berry, and Lemons were impressive runs by young Justin Carroll and Christian Eckes, who ran up front all night and led a number of laps.

The 2016 CARS Late Model Tour finale will be held at Southern National Motorsports Park on November 12th.

1 08 Deac McCaskill 150
2 88 Josh Berry 150
3 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr. 150
4 57 Justin Carroll 150
5 1 Christian Eckes 150
6 12M Austin McDaniel 150
7 18s Evan Swilling 150
8 42 Craig Stallard 150
9 5A Anthony Alfredo 150
10 5 Stephen Leicht 149
11 28 Chris Hudspeth 149
12 74 Ronald Hill 148
13 31 Thomas Beane 148
14 88 Chris Davis 144
15 2 Christopher Denny 136
16 16s R.D. Smith 39
17 1m Craig Moore 36
18 99 Layne Riggs 35
19 7 Justin Crider 30

–Story and Photo by Tim Quievryn // 51’s Third Turn // @thethirdturn

LMSC: Deac Ekes Out CARS Tour Victory at Hickory