The gates at Caraway Speedway (NC) opened Sunday afternoon as Late Model Stock Car racers converged in Sophia, NC for the track’s season opener. A $5,000 check was on the line in the first round of Caraway’s Money Madness, and at the end of the day it was teenager Ryan Millington crossing the finish line first to score the big payday.
The 16-year-old race car driver gave credit to his dad for their success, and is looking forward to more big races this year.
“We played with (the car) over the winter and found a bunch of speed,” Millington told Speed51.com. “My dad and I work in the shop all the time; we work on it all alone. But we really hit on something. Hopefully go to a few more big races this year and get some more wins.”
The race started out with Travis Swaim leading the majority of the race after starting from the pole position. Swaim was fast and held his own until his car began to fade in the later stages.
Justin Carroll, despite suspicions that his car was leaking oil, took over the lead from Swaim with 20 laps to go. Carroll was stopped twice under caution during the race to allow race officials to check his car for a possible leak. Both times he was allowed to continue.
With three laps to go, Millington found his way to the front and made his move for the race lead. He made his way by Carroll and pulled away over the final three circuits to win the 99-lap race.
“We had a really good car from the beginning. I just got behind on one restart, but there was a big gap to Carroll and Swaim,” Millington said. “I just rode back there and hoped for a caution, one came out and I took advantage of it.”
Carroll hung on to finish second behind Millington after an eventful race that saw him stopped twice by race officials and ended with a nail in his right front tire.
“Not very happy, honestly. I think that’s where our flat tire came from. There’s a lot of crap down here on the bottom of the race track,” Carroll said. “I don’t know. After that last restart it kept getting worse and worse and we kept hitting the race car harder and harder. I was trying to hold onto it for as long as I could, but I was about ten laps short. I’m happy with a second-place finish, I just feel like we should be over there sitting in victory lane.”
Despite having the dominant car early and fading late, Swaim was pleased with his team’s third-place effort.
“The car was really good,” Swaim said. “We sat on the pole and led a bunch of laps. We just got really loose all of a sudden. Happy with the run, it was our first time in the car.”
The Late Model Stock Cars will return to Caraway Speedway on July 7 when the track hosts the Rusty Harpe Memorial 77.
-Story by Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com