A big crowd at the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) was treated to a thrilling battle between Brayton Haws and Austin McDaniel in the Late Model Stock portion of the CARS Tour Catawba Valley 250 that ended with Haws taking his second straight CARS win.
Haws and McDaniel battled side-by-side for about the last ten laps of the 125-lap feature at “The World’s Most Famous Short Track.” Haws was on the outside with McDaniel charging hard on the bottom, but McDaniel just wasn’t able to make a move stick. Haws beat McDaniel to the checkered flag by one car-length to claim the victory.
“That was really good racing with me and McDaniel,” Haws told Speed51.com powered by JEGS in victory lane. “That was basically the hardest race I’ve ever had in my life right there. And that was probably the most fun racing you could have here at Hickory Motor Speedway.”
The late-race duel was set up when a caution came out with about 19 laps to go after Stacy Puryear cut down a tire. Haws chose the outside lane for the restart, which put McDaniel on the bottom. Haws cleared McDaniel on the restart, but he wasn’t able to drive away.
McDaniel kept Haws close and started to make his move with about 10 laps to go. He tried to use the low line, but just couldn’t get the run off the corner to get by Haws. The two drivers ran door-to-door until Haws cleared McDaniel off of turn four as he came to the checkered flag.
“I guess I could have been a little bit more aggressive, but I was really trying to race him as clean as possible,” McDaniel said. “I really thought I could get him.”
McDaniel got by Haws earlier in the race, but Haws got back by on a restart. McDaniel explained that his car was really good on longer runs after the air pressure in the tires built back up.
“The car took about 10 to 15 laps for the air pressure to build back up,” McDaniel said. “Once it did, the car was on rails, but that last caution really killed us. I think that if that last caution didn’t come out we would have had it. It was a great night, but we just came up one spot short.”
Justin Crider, RD Smith, and Tyler Ankrum completed the top five.
The win for Haws is his second straight on the CARS Tour, which is something that nobody had done in either division prior to Haws in the Tour’s young existence. It’s also his second win at Hickory, but he said this one is a bit more satisfying.
“I actually won a 50-lapper here before but this definitely means more than that one,” Haws said. “It definitely feels really good. That’s actually the first time in my Late Model career I’ve gotten two straight wins.”
A replay of our Trackside Now coverage from the Catawba Valley 250 can be found right here: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-cars-racing-tour-at-hickory/
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo
CARS Tour Late Model Stock Catawba Valley 250
Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory, North Carolina
1 41 Brayton Haws
2 12m Austin McDaniel
3 7 Justin Crider
4 16s RD Smith
5 58 Tyler Ankrum
6 00 Shane Lee
7 2 Myatt Snider
8 07 Clint King
9 77 Blake Stallings
10 1 Trent Barnes
11 4p Kyle Plott
12 54 Michael Fose
13 08 Deac McCaskill
14 28 Chris Hudspeth
15 88d Doug Barnes, Jr.
16 27 Tommy Lemons, Jr.
17 17 Stacy Puryear
18 98 Stefan Parsons
19 50 Jamie Caudill
20 16 Jeff Oakley
21 88t Robert Tyler
22 1w Dylon Wilson
23 42 Craig Stallard
24 99 Mike Darne
25 31 Thomas Beane
26 12c Garrett Campbell
27 98g Todd Gilliland
28 23r Payton Ryan
29 59 Roddey Sterling
30 63 Christian PaHud