Josh Berry added to his CARS Late Model Stock Tour points lead with a victory Friday night at Ace Speedway (NC), but it didn’t come without a scare.
Berry survived an early spin to claim his 15thcareer victory in the series, taking the lead from defending series champion Bobby McCarty at lap 100 of the 125-lap event.
“Early on, there was a little contact in [turns] three and four and we got turned around,” Berry told Speed51. “Obviously, that wasn’t a good thing. It put us way behind, but we just tried to manage it the best we could and stayed out of trouble.
“We had a couple of close calls, but once we got in the top ten, I felt like we had a really good car all along,” Berry added. “We were able to wrestle the lead away from Bobby on that restart. Once we got out front, it was over.”
While Berry recovered from his early spin, other title contenders weren’t so fortunate. Taylor Gray entered the night just four points behind Berry, but finished 19thbattling a damaged race car that ultimately fell out of the running after 73 laps.
Brandon Pierce, winner of the season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC), started at the rear of the field after a broken axle dashed his qualifying effort. Pierce was then involved in an incident as well, but battled to a 16thplace finish.
“Just ready to get out of here, to be honest,” said Pierce. “It’s just a character statement for all these guys, they busted tail all night long. We were tore up bad enough to park it, but we’re here to contend for a championship. That’s the only reason we’re here.”
Ryan Millington finished second in the event after starting on the pole, passing Deac McCaskill in the closing laps to move up one step on the podium.
“It was definitely an interesting race tonight,” said Millington. “Me, Deac, Josh and the 22 [of Bobby McCarty], we all had really good cars. It really depended on how you ran your race tonight. We ended up second, and I’m super-happy with that. We started on the pole and showed some speed, that’s what matters.”
“I’m a little bummed out Ryan got by me at the end, but his car was better than mine there at the end of the race,” McCaskill said after finishing third. “We ran pretty bad here last year, made a lot of changes. Been testing a lot. We’ve learned a lot, hopefully we’ll be back next year even better.”
After leading the lion’s share of the race, McCarty faded to fourth at the finish. He was still pleased with the outcome after a sluggish start to the season, happy to see some of the work he and his Nelson Motorsports team have done in the month since the last CARS Tour event at Orange County Speedway (NC) paid off.
“I definitely had to survive,” said McCarty. “I about got wrecked for 25 laps straight. That’s fine. We really haven’t had competitive cars this year. We went to work in this break we had. These are the first laps we’ve led all year, and we contended, so we’re definitely taking a step in the right direction.”
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour will be back in action in two weeks, as the series will return to Motor Mile Speedway (VA) for the first time since 2015.
Race fans who missed Friday’s CARS Tour event at Ace Speedway can visit Race Day Now to view Speed51’s live updates from the night.
Unofficial Results – CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Ace Speedway – Altamahaw, North Carolina
|6||25||Zack St. Onge|
|22||27||Tommy Lemons, Jr.|
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo