Haws Wins Epic Battle at Hickoryby Jason Beck May 10, 2015
Brayton Haws predicted his win moments before the green flag at Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday night. Little did he know how hard winning would be. Haws used a late-race restart to defeat the former track champion Austin McDaniel to win his second consecutive CARS Super Late Model Tour race.
Haws, a 15-year-old racer from Youngsville, N.C., raced side-by-side with the former Hickory late model champion for the final 12 laps of the 125-lap feature event, taking the checkered flag by less and a car length in a thrilling finish in front of packed bleachers.
“That was probably the most fun I’ve had in my racing career,” said Haws in victory lane. “That is as good as it gets right there … that is good short track racing.”
Haws passed pole sitter Tyler Ankrum on a lap-seven restart, and traded the lead with veteran Jamie Caudill at least three times before eventually leading the majority of the race. Little did Haws know McDaniel, who started 10th, was making a charge to the front.
“Those first laps I thought I’d set sail to win another one with ease, but Austin McDaniel gave me a run for my money.” Haws said. “We were saving all day long and tire management really counted in those last laps.”
McDaniel captured the lead from Haws on lap 84 and looked to be pulling away to victory before an altercation between Caudill and Tommy Lemons Jr. with 20 laps remaining created a final caution. Haws took advantage of the opportunity, passing and holding off McDaniel using Hickory’s outside groove. Even though he lost the race, the second-place finisher enjoyed the battle.
“That was a great run by Brayton; a lot of great racing, but we just came up short,” McDaniels said. “The first couple of races of the season we’ve had really bad luck, and it was great to get out of the hole.”
Even though he has more than four years of experience at Hickory, the rule differences between weekly late model stocks and the CARS Tour make the car’s setup totally different. He plans on running the entire season in the touring division.
”It’s definitely a new ballgame, but I think we are figuring it out,” he said.
Ankrum, the pole sitter, led the first few laps before fading. He spun after contact with R.D. Smith on lap 58 and was forced to rally back for a fifth-place result. Smith managed to finish fourth.
For the second CARS race in a row, Justin Crider cruised home in third place. Crider, part of a small family team, is proud to have two top-five finishes against the best late model stock teams in the nation.
“It’s tough to come out here week in and week out and run with these guys that can afford to do all the things we can’t, but it makes it that much sweeter when we can come out here and race with these guys,” Crider said. “We are proving that we can.”
Myatt Snyder, who entered the race only a couple of points behind Haws in the championship standings, lost ground after finishing seventh. The next stop on the tour is Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, where Haws had one of the fastest cars earlier in the season, but was hampered by a valve spring issue.
More than 30 cars attempted to qualify for the Hickory race. Craig Stallard won a last-chance race for non qualifiers.
Featured Photo Credit: Jason Beck