During the months of February and March, we were able to get a sneak peek at what to expect from Late Model Stock racing in 2020. Events such as Myrtle Beach Speedway’s Icebreaker 125 and the CARS Tour season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park gave us a look at what’s to come.
Although racing has since been halted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we still know who some of the top dogs in the discipline over the past year are.
We recently ranked the top 10 current Outlaw Late Model racers. Now, we do the same in the Late Model Stock world. Note that this rankings are based on recent performance, not cumulative career accolades.
#1) Josh Berry – No one was hotter than Josh Berry in Late Model Stock Car racing to close out 2019. The JR Motorsports driver won three of the last five CARS Tour events of the season, narrowly missing out on the series championship by just two points. More importantly, Berry got the Martinsville Monkey off his back by dominating the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, pocketing a record payday.
#2) Bobby McCarty – Berry won more battles on the CARS Tour in 2019, but for the second year in a row McCarty won the war. McCarty and his Nelson Motorsports team became the first two-time champions in series history by holding off Corey Heim to protect his points lead at the season finale in South Boston Speedway (VA).
#3) Mike Looney – The top dog among Late Model Stock Car racers in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series in 2019, Looney came up just shy of a National Championship. The long-time underdog still left with plenty of hardware, including a Virginia State Championship and the Motor Mile Speedway (VA) track title.
#4) Philip Morris – “King Philip” did not match his National Championship from 2018 and break a tie with Larry Phillips for most NASCAR Weekly Racing Series titles, but he still won 14 races under the banner in 2019. When racing resumes, Morris will be with R&S Race Cars hoping to nab that sixth title.
#5) Lee Pulliam – Lee Pulliam has cut back on his schedule in recent years, bringing him down in a ranking of “current” Late Model Stock pilots. Make no mistake though – when Pulliam gets behind the wheel, he is always a threat to win, as he did seven times in NASCAR-sanctioned events. Pulliam also won the $30,000 inaugural CARS Tour Old North State Nationals last year.
#6) Peyton Sellers – The victory lane at South Boston Speedway is named in honor of Philip Morris, but Sellers has spent plenty of time there in recent years. The Danville, Virginia racer won his fifth career track championship at the 0.400-mile oval in 2019, tying him with Ray Hendrick for second-most feature division track titles.
#7) Taylor Gray – Gray gets a slight bump in the rankings after starting the 2020 season with the season-opening CARS Tour win at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC). It was Gray’s second win with the series, with the first coming last spring at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
#8) Deac McCaskill – The North Carolina veteran of the Late Model Stock battles doesn’t compete much outside the CARS Tour anymore, but he’s still a front-runner. McCaskill picked up his seventh career win in the series last year and finished third in the series standings for the second-straight year.
#9) Brandon Pierce – Pierce kicked off 2019 with a big $10,000 win with the CARS Tour at Southern National, but has been dogged by a lack of consistency since. His best finish is 12th in the last three CARS Tour events, and he is without a top-five in the series since last June at Dominion Raceway (VA).
#10) Sam Yarbrough – It’s difficult to figure out exactly where South Carolina’s Late Model Stock racers stack up against their brethren to the north. They rarely intermingle outside of marquee events such as the Myrtle Beach 400 where the locals have home-field advantage. However, there is no doubt Sam Yarbrough is the man to beat in the Palmetto State.
-Text by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51