Photo Credit: Jason Beck
For the second race in a row, Brayton Haws had the best car on the CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour. This time, the 15-year-old driver survived bumping, side-by-side racing and a green-white-checkered finish to score his biggest career victory in the late model stock portion of the Orange Blossom 300.
Haws used Orange County Speedway’s outside groove to his advantage, holding off charges from Myatt Snyder and late model veteran Jamie Caudill to win the 150-lap event. The triumph comes as redemption after motor woes hampered the team at the last CARS Tour event, a race Haws thinks he could have won. This time, the Youngsville, N.C., driver had to show patience after taking the lead on lap 24.
“You are so tempted to get out in front and pass everyone, keep on going and get as far away as you can,” Haws said. “Really it was just my spotter and crew chief Lee McCall saying ‘keep on saving; keep on saving.’ Then with about 25 laps to go I turned on the burners.”
Myatt Snyder decided to charge to the front at the same point in the race. Snyder and Haws battled door to door for a dozen laps, at times rubbing fenders, but Haws’ No. 41 Rheem Ford was strong enough to hold on to the top spot. Haws said he did not mind trading paint for the win.
“We had a really good race there at the end … that’s short track racing,” he said. “Rubbing is racing, that’s how we live as race car drivers.”
The race was slowed by 10 caution flags, including a final time on lap 147 when the car of Christian Pahud contacted the turn-four wall. Snyder’s car suffered a valve spring failure on the final restart, giving Haws a clear shot at victory. Snyder eventually lost second place to Justin Crider. Still, it was a good finish for the driver, putting him atop the standings after two races.
“I was giving (Haws) everything I got, then I laid off for a while because I knew there was going to be another caution, but didn’t exactly go how I thought it would … I was down a good bit of power,” said Snyder of the race’s conclusion. “It was a great show.”
Crider was thrilled with his second-place finish. The driver said a top-five finish against the best late model stock teams in the country is a boost for his small team.
“I drove my heart out,” Crider said. “To come away with a second place finish I had to rough some people up … but it’s racing.
“All the hard work for our little team has paid off,” he said. “I’m really happy we are starting to get some results for all the hard work we’ve put in.”
For the second race in a row, fast qualifier Deac McCaskill led the race early only to fall short of victory lane. At Orange County McCaskill faded early to around fifth place, where he ran the majority of the race. A cut tire on the final restart relegated him to a 10th place finish.
RD Smith also cut a tire while running in the top five, but rebounded late to finish fourth. Caudill was fifth, Tommy Lemmons Jr. sixth, Justin Johnson seventh, Thomas Beane eighth, Jeff Oakley ninth with McCaskill rounding out the top 10.