The CARS Tour will start its sixth season this Saturday at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC), marking the fourth time the season has started at the Lucama, North Carolina facility.
Each year, the competition in the series’ Late Model Stock division gets more and more challenging, with up-and-comers and rising stars tossing their hats into the ring against some of the proven veterans of the discipline.
A dozen of those drivers, committed to running the full CARS Late Model Stock Tour season, are highlighted by the series’ ‘Touring 12’ program. Here is our ranking of those 12 drivers and their title hopes entering the new season.
Note that only the Touring 12 are included in this ranking, with the possibility of other full-time competitors stealing some spotlight during the year. In 2019, 15 drivers competed in at least nine of the CARS Tour’s 11 Late Model Stock races.
1) Josh Berry – It’s difficult to pick a favorite between Berry and two-time and defending CARS Late Model Stock Tour Champion Bobby McCarty. After all, only one point separated the two drivers after 11 races last season. However, we’ll give the slightest of edges to the series’ winningest driver, with 18 trips to victory lane in 48 starts.
2) Bobby McCarty – That’s not to take anything away from McCarty or his Nelson Motorsports team. By winning last year’s championship, McCarty became the first driver in either division of the CARS Tour to become a two-time champion, and he’ll be looking to add to that collection in 2020.
3) Deac McCaskill – A supporter of the series since its beginnings in 2015, McCaskill has the most starts (and top 10s) in CARS Tour history. The 2016 series champion has never finished worse than fourth in the series standings, and should be another strong contender in 2020.
4) Corey Heim – Heim is a former CARS Super Late Model winner at South Boston and is coming off a win at CRA SpeedFest. Heim has also been on the doorstep of some big wins competing with the Lee Pulliam Performance team in Late Model Stock competition. This year, he’ll be competing for the full season and hoping to make some noise.
5) Brandon Pierce – Pierce started the 2019 season in style with a $10,000 win at Southern National Motorsports Park. Inconsistency prevented Pierce from being a true championship contender, but he has the talent and the pieces are in place for him to take that next step with a little more good fortune.
6) Chad McCumbee – McCumbee is a bit of a wild car in this year’s Touring 12. He has competed sparingly on the CARS Tour over the years, with one top five in eight starts. However, the former NASCAR Trucks Series competitor is also the 2018 Myrtle Beach 400 winner, evidence he can compete with the best in Late Model Stock racing.
7) Layne Riggs – In 2017, Riggs burst onto the scene with a pair of wins and a third-place finish in CARS Tour points. The son of former NASCAR Cup Series racer Scott Riggs has just one CARS Tour win since, and has been searching for the consistency he had in 2017.
8) Jared Fryar – The 2018 CARS Super Late Model Tour champion returns to Late Model Stock competition in 2020. Fryar was a winner with the Late Model Stock Car in 2017 with five top-five finishes in 10 starts, but may need some time to reacclimate to the Late Model Stock Car against competition that is even more stout now than it was three years ago.
9) Nolan Pope – Another driver we’re used to seeing in the CARS Super Late Models, Nolan Pope has finished in the top four in CARS Super Late Model Tour two of the last three seasons. Pope is not a stranger to Late Model Stock competition, with wins in weekly competition at Anderson Motor Speedway (SC) and Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) in the past couple of years.
10) Tyler Matthews – A former NASCAR Weekly Racing Series North Carolina State Champion, Matthews finished fifth the standings in his first full-time season with the CARS Tour in 2019. Matthews will be seeking his first career top-five finish with the series entering the sophomore season.
11) Mini Tyrrell – Tyrrell was another rookie contender on the CARS Tour in 2019, with a best finish of fourth at Dominion Raceway (VA). Tyrrell will be looking to improve on his six top-10 finishes from a year ago with another season under his belt.
12) Ronald Hill – Ronald “The Thrill” Hill is always in the mix to shake things up at tracks such as his home base of Orange County Speedway where the veteran has plenty of experience. However, Hill finished 15th in last year’s standings with three top-10 finishes.
-Text by Speed51 Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51