Through the interference of Mother Nature on two separate occasions, the 10-race 2016 CARS Tour season will come to a conclusion at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) this Saturday. While Raphael Lessard goes in with a stable 30 point lead over Brandon Setzer in the Super Late Models, the Late Model Stock points battle between Deac McCaskill and Tommy Lemons, Jr. is much more intriguing.
Thirteen points separate the two drivers, who have each won a pair of races on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour in 2016. The battle between McCaskill and Lemons has been fierce since the season began at Southern National in early April. With Josh Berry skipping a round to run in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, he has fallen back in what could have been a three-driver fight.
“Realistically, Deac has got to have an off weekend for us to catch him with as few cars as CARS has been pulling this year,” Lemons told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Thirteen is a lot to make up.”
Despite reality being in the favor of McCaskill, he is not getting too comfortable heading into the final race of the season.
“I’m not very comfortable, anything can happen. One flat tire, one DNF and it’s all over with,” McCaskill said. “We’ve been working hard on the car the last week to make sure we’ve gone over everything and that nothing crazy happens. Hopefully we have some good luck on our side and Lord willing we’ll pull it off this weekend.”
While McCaskill won the season opener at Southern National in the Spring, he feels that the weekend is going to be completely different this time around and that he and his team will need to prepare accordingly.
“The track has been good to me in the past, but it’s a different weekend, can’t really carry over a whole lot of notes from previous races so we’re going into it with our game face on and see what happens,” he stated. “We need to get the car handling right on Friday and have a good race on Saturday.”
Lemons also had an impressive run in the first race, charging from 18th to finish runner-up behind McCaskill, but Lemons is confident with a couple of tweaks they can bring back the same great setup they had at the start of the season.
“We had a really good race car, obviously struggled in qualifying that day. But when it came time to race, it was pretty fast,” Lemons explained. “I think we’ve turned our qualifying effort around in the CARS Tour; if we can qualify up front we can give them a run for their money. “They probably won’t be too far off, running that race the first of April might be a little different just because it’ll be a little cooler. But I think what we had back then should transfer pretty close.”
One point that both drivers agree on is that to get the most out of the weekend, they need to set their sights on Victory Lane.
“Just got to treat it like every other weekend, that’s what got us in this position. Every race I’ve run in my entire life, I’ve tried to go out there and win,” McCaskill declared. “That’s what we are going to do this weekend, I don’t want to change what we do every week, going in to win.”
“We don’t go to a race track ever without the same preparation as an outlook when we are going to win. Win enough races and it will take care of the points,” Lemons said.
Be sure to follow Speed51.com this Saturday for Trackside Now coverage from Southern National to find out who will come out on top in the races and the championship battles.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com