The SMART Modified Tour is set to conclude its comeback season this weekend at Florence Motor Speedway with a 75-lap feature during the South Carolina 400. Bolstered by an addition of some drivers from the North, SMART’s usual cast of talent will also see the addition of a North Carolina driver who has grown a liking to the mighty ground-pounders. Late Model Stock Car hot shoe, Bradley McCaskill.
The 2019 NASCAR North Carolina State Champion will pilot the familiar No. 79 Hillbilly Racing Modified, a mark known to Modified fans from New Smyrna to Loudon for the past few decades, with drivers like Ed Flemke, Jr. and Woody Pitkat in previous years, as well as James Civali who serves as the team’s primary driver in the present day.
This Saturday will not be the first time McCaskill has raced for the Hill family, with McCaskill’s graphics business Grafix Unlimited opening the door to both friendship, a new racing adventure, and even that N.C. State title.
“Last year when we were making a run for the NASCAR state title, I asked them if there was a seat available to run over at (Bowman Gray) Stadium to try and earn some points for NASCAR Division 1. I ran four or five times over there and that helped to really develop our relationship. We were already doing their decals and wraps for their racecars, so we’ve been friends for a while,” McCaskill told Speed51.
Unfortunately, McCaskill’s prior appearances have not yielded good results at the checkered flag so far. But, he feels the potential for victory is within grasp.
“I haven’t had a good finish yet, we’ve had some good runs, but just struggle to get a win. I feel like I’m learning the Modified more each time out, they’re much different then what I’m used to driving, but it’s a lot of fun.”
In order to taste the spoils of victory on Saturday, McCaskill will have to be a fast learner, as he takes on the 4/10-mile Florence, South Carolina oval for the first time ever.
“I’m super excited, I’ve never seen the track at all in person. I’ve only watched the races there on Speed51 this year. It looks like such a cool track, Steve Zacharias is a good friend of mine, and any time I get to go support him and his family is great. That’s I’m also excited about, is being able to race with him again.”
After taking on the best in the Late Model Stock Car ranks for much of the past decade, McCaskill is looking forward to the opportunity to not only mix it up against the SMART teams, but also the northern ringers.
“We got a great group of drivers down here, but to also race against some of the big names from up north is something special for me. I’ve watched those guys come down for Speedweeks and North-South, there’s some hardcore racers. I can’t wait to rub elbows with those guys.”
McCaskill’s limited time in the No. 79 the past two seasons has unknowingly marked the start of a transition in his driving career. While eyeing more appearances with the Hill’s in 2021 on the hardtop, McCaskill is also embracing open-wheel racing on the dirt next season.
“I sure hope (to be back in the No. 79), I don’t know what the plans are just yet. What I do know, I keep telling everybody I’m losing my fenders next year; we actually bought a Dirt Modified to go dirt racing next year. So, there’s that, plus running the Hillbilly 79 on the hardtop as much as I can. I’ve been racing for quite a while and it’s always fun to turn the page, and start a new chapter.”
Also, keep up with the latest driver news heading into 2021 right here on Speed51.com.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51