Brayton Haws put his championship competitors on notice at the start of the day when he won the pole for the final CARS Racing Tour Late Model Stock race of the season. He came into the day three points behind Myatt Snider and tied with Deac McCaskill. But at the end of the day Haws came out on top as the inaugural series champion.
“I can’t believe this,” said Haws in victory lane. “It hasn’t set in yet. This is a dream come true for me and my team for sure.”
Haws may not have won the race (he finished fifth), but he won what mattered the most. He was strong all race long, leading early and fighting all throughout the top five for much of the race before deciding to play it safe as the laps wound down.
“We tried to approach this with clear heads,” said Haws. “We just wanted to treat this like it was any other race.”
But it wasn’t any other race. It was for a championship. And it was clear just how much this meant to Haws even without him saying it.
The 15-year-old driver doesn’t show much emotion usually. He’s usually very quiet and shy, but when he pulled into victory lane on Hickory’s front straightaway he had tears in his eyes as he tried to gather his thoughts. His hands shook as he held his championship trophy while the photographers took their pictures.
Meanwhile, there was another celebration going on just a few feet away from Haws as Hickory Motor Speedway ace Josh Berry celebrated another win at the historic 3/8-mile oval.
Berry seemed to play it safe and ride for much of the early stages of the race before flying through the field in the latter stages.
“Our plan was just to ride,” said Berry. “We wanted to stay close to the front, but just ride. A lot of those cars were going really hard, I thought. We just tried to stay close as they started slipping and sliding. We closed in on lapped traffic and I figured that was a good time to pounce.”
Berry held off a hard-charging Tommy Lemons to score the victory. Tyler Ankrum, Clay Rogers and Haws completed the top five.
Haws’ championship foes, McCaskill and Snider, finished seventh and 10th respectively.
McCaskill unofficially finished second in the points to Haws and Snider finished third.
Speed51.com will have more from the CARS Racing Tour finale in the days to come including interviews with the race winners and champions on the 51 Network.
For an on-demand replay of today’s Trackside Now coverage presented by Liberty University and JET Tools, click here: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-cars-tour-championship-night-at-hickory/
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Racing Tour Late Model Stock
Hickory Motor Speedway, Newton, North Carolina