Deac McCaskill was the class of the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Late Model Stock Tour field at Orange County Speedway, leading 70 of 100 laps in the Mid-Atlantic Classic for his first series win of 2017.
“You get a car like that, it’s hard to beat.” McCaskill told Speed51.com powered by JEGS after the win. “We tried to pace ourselves at the start. Josh [Berry] looked really strong, and it looked like he was fading there at the end. I was trying to mirror my times with him.
While McCaskill claimed the CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship last season, 2017 has been a struggle for the Raleigh, North Carolina native. McCaskill built on momentum from a strong run in the series’ last race at Tri-County Motor Speedway for this weekend in Rougemont, North Carolina.
“We really hit on something at Tri-County with the front end,” McCaskill explained. “We just needed to work on the back end a little bit. We came up here yesterday, worked on it a little more. Man, the car just rotated the center really good all night long.”
That balance proved to be the difference, a sentiment echoed by his closest competition. Josh Berry, who finished third on the night, felt his car wasn’t where it needed to be to contend with McCaskill.
“We just missed it a little bit,” Berry said. “We worked really hard on getting the car to drive better off the corner. We just went a little too far. Deac was really good. At the end, we were probably a second-place car. We just couldn’t get around the 74.”
The 74 was driven by Ronald Hill, a Late Model Stock veteran and former track champion at Orange County Speedway. Hill finished second on Saturday night, his best career finish in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour.
“That’s about as tired as I’ve been getting out of a race car in a long time,” Hill said. “But it’s good for us. We need to do this to stay in shape. It was very demanding. It was a hard race, these 100-lappers you have to go hard every lap.
“There was a lot of good racing going on around me all night. Berry did a good job racing me. He could have crowded me a little bit in the closing laps, but he gave me room.”
In victory lane, McCaskill dedicated the win to Justin Milliken, a fellow Late Model Stock racer injured in an automobile accident this weekend.
“I want to dedicate this to Justin Milliken,” McCaskill said. “He’s a really good friend of ours, and he was in a car accident, him and a crew member. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his entire family.”
There was a late caution on lap 92 which re-racked the field after a spectacular accident involving Ty Gibbs and Stefan Parsons. Gibbs’ car flipped upside-down and slid the length of the backstretch before coming to rest in turn three, with a fire burning in the front end. Gibbs quickly climbed out of the car under his own power while track crews extinguished the fire.
The restart gave Hill and Berry one last shot at the win, but McCaskill again proved his strength, clearing Hill easily entering turn one to keep the lead for good.
The CARS Tour will return to action August 5 at Hickory Motor Speedway for the Throwback 276. There, the CARS Super Late Model Tour and Late Model Stock Tour will each run 138-lap features. Several teams have announced retro-inspired paint schemes for the event, which will celebrate the sport’s history.
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by PFC Brakes, click here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ZTEvans
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Orange County Speedway, Rougemont, North Carolina
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