The fastest car doesn’t always win the race. That’s a fact in racing, especially on short tracks. Sometimes things happen that takes the fastest car out of contention. On Saturday night at North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway, Steve Wallace had the fastest car in the 150-lap Super Late Model race, but he wasn’t the one celebrating in victory lane. Instead, he was left fuming after a third-place run while Kyle Plott celebrated his second career win.
“I was the leader on a late-race restart,” explained Wallace. “I got through the gear box great, cleared second-place going into one and then that 18 car (Raphael Lessard) just drove straight through me like he does everybody every time. There’s a common trend here. I guess it’s okay if you’re not leading and running in second to drive wide-ass open through the leader and spin him out.”
Wallace got a good restart, but so did Lessard. Lessard appeared to have a little bit of room underneath Wallace’s red No. 66 machine and he tried to take advantage of it. Then the door closed, contact was made, and Wallace went for a spin in front of the field.
“I was second on every restart and he kept moving up every restart,” said Lessard. “Then I was in third and he did the exact same thing to the guy in second. They both moved up the race track. I saw a hole. Everyone would have done the same thing. I just saw a hole and I went for it. And then he came back down on me. It’s unfortunate. I didn’t want to spin him, but it is what it is.”
When the dust settled, CARS Tour officials sent Wallace to the rear for spinning, Lessard to the rear for initiating the spin, and also Craig to the rear because he was believed to be involved in the incident as well.
That handed the lead over to Kyle Plott, the Marietta, Georgia driver who just picked up his first Super Late Model victory less than a month ago. It also put Corey Heim in second and in a prime position to maybe pick up his first Super Late Model win as well.
After a bunch of late-race restarts, Plott was able to hold off Heim, even on the final restart with less than five laps to go. Heim got close enough to Plott’s No. 4 car to give him a tap in turn two, but he was unable to get a strong enough run off the corner to get underneath Plott and take the lead.
Instead, Plott went on to score his second straight Super Late Model victory and first career CARS Tour win, and he did it on a day in which he thought earlier in the afternoon that he was going to have to pack up and leave after an engine issue in practice.
“It’s been a long day,” said an overjoyed Plott in victory lane. “In practice I knew we had a great car. I pulled into the pits and I heard something ticking like an exhaust leak. We got looking a little bit more and noticed it was a blown head gasket. Right then we thought the day was done. I saw Robert Long who used to build motors for me in Late Model Stocks. I asked him if he had any head gaskets. We drove to his shop and got a head gasket, got it all fixed up and thankfully it held together and we got the win.”
Initially, Plott wasn’t even supposed to be at Orange County Speedway. He was instead supposed to be in Indianapolis for the Speed51 Super Select Super Late Model all-star race before rain cancelled that inaugural event. He and his team decided to head to Orange County and the decision clearly paid off.
“I can’t explain it,” said Plott when asked how good this win felt. “It was great. Two wins in a row. That’s more Super wins than I’ve ever had. That means a lot. We’re going to celebrate going home. Hopefully they don’t want me to drive because I’m going to be drinking a few cold ones.”
Meanwhile, Wallace was left to ponder about another victory that got away. The 31-year-old was also left to think about what the future holds between he and the 17-year-old Lessard who have now had multiple run-ins on the race track.
“I went down there really nice to talk to him. His guys all started trying to argue and I said ‘Look, I’m not down here to try to fight. I just want to talk to your driver and ask what’s going on.’ Why did you drive wide-open through Brandon Setzer? Why did you drive wide-open through me? There’s 40 laps to go. I can’t really understand what he was saying and his dad was all in my face. I just simply said that I’m not going anywhere and you’re going to have to race me for a long time. If I was you, I’d have me in the back of your head when I’m behind you.
“The only reason I did not right-rear him and send him head-on outside of the track is because he’s already crashed a car in practice. I like his crew chief Cody (Glick) and I get along with the KBM guys really well. But if he even looks at me wrong, I can promise you I will win the war.”
For an on-demand replay of Saturday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies, click here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Super Late Model Tour
Orange County Speedway, Rougemont, North Carolina
Pos. # Driver
1 4P Kyle Plott
2 78 Corey Heim
3 66W Steve Wallace
4 14 Jared Fryar
5 18 Raphael Lessard
6 17 Mike Speeney
7 00 Anthony Cataldi
8 16 Molly Helmuth
9 2 Darrell Gilchrist
10 2T Gracie Trotter
11 8 Tate Fogleman
12 49 Jeff Batten
13 54 Matt Craig
14 37 Dan Speeney
15 12 Dean Ward
16 32 Harold Crooms