Hickory Motor Speedway is known by many in the racing community as “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.” Drivers such as Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson and Ralph Earnhardt have etched their names into the track’s record books by winning races and championships at the prestigious .363-mile North Carolina oval.
This past Saturday at the track, 15-year-old Brayton Haws, one of the sport’s rising stars, etched his own name into the track’s record books by becoming the first ever CARS Late Model Stock Tour winner at the track. Haws in his red and black Rheem Manufacturing/HVAC Mechanical Services No. 41 battled on the outside of Austin McDaniel for the final 10 laps before prevailing at the checkered flag to score his second straight CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour triumph.
“It’s the first time in my Late Model career that I’ve been able to win two in a row,” said Haws. “It’s a really big deal, too. I can’t do it without everyone who backs me up day in and day out. That was really good racing, good short track racing. We didn’t bump, we didn’t slide into each other. It was just good, hard racing.”
Haws started Saturday night’s 125-lap feature at “The World’s Most Famous Short Track” from the fourth position and quickly made his way to the front. He took the lead for the first time on lap 9 but later lost the lead to McDaniel on lap 85. On this night, however, Haws would have a no-quit attitude as he later took the lead back on lap 106 before entering a battle for the ages with McDaniel during the final 10 laps.
“Save tires, save tires until the caution came out and race him with 10 laps to go,” said of his strategy when he first got passed for the lead. “We were a little bit worried but kind of got it out of our heads and started saving tires. It really paid off those final 10 laps.”
Despite the inside lane normally being the preferred lane at Hickory, Haws elected to restart from the outside on multiple late race restarts. That decision was one that would later pay off for the Youngsville, North Carolina driver.
“I think probably whenever we started battling with McDaniel, because on the inside it felt like my car was getting really loose and I just felt more comfortable on the outside,” Haws answered after the race when asked about when he determined that he preferred the outside. “I think that’s the best I’ve ever done on the outside at this track. I touched the wall on the backstretch once but it was just a little scrape.”
Fresh off of back-to-back CARS Late Model Stock Tour wins, Haws and the Hawk-McCall Motorsports team will make his way back to Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) on Saturday, May 30 looking to make it three in a row. The Kenly, North Carolina oval is one that he has previously experienced plenty of success at. Haws recorded a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series win and a win in the prestigious Autumn Classic at the track last season.
“I think we have a good shot of making it three straight,” Haws said with confidence. “I have a lot of confidence at that track after winning the Autumn Classic there. It’s too bad that we had bad luck (broken valve) during our last showing there, but I think we can continue the streak.”
For more information on Brayton Haws, visit his website at www.braytonhaws.com or follow him on Twitter at @BraytonHaws.
-51 Sports Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com