Matt McCall Overcomes Adversity At SNMP To Defend His Thanksgiving Classic Titleby Hunter Thomas November 25, 2018 0 comments
LUCAMA, N.C. – Coming to two laps to go, Matt McCall slid underneath Deac McCaskill coming out of Turn 4 at Southern National Motorsports Park and powered his way to the lead en route to winning his second straight Thanksgiving Classic.
McCaskill sat on the pole for the 18th annual Thanksgiving Classic on Sunday. He even led the majority of the laps; however, one small hiccup allowed defending race winner, McCall to get by him. On the final lap of the race, McCall hit the wall on the backstretch while leading, but McCaskill wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunity. The two drivers raced each other cleanly through the final turns as McCall went on to defend his title in the prestigious NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race.
“Honestly, me and Deac have raced a long time together,” McCall said. “I think we’re probably in the old man’s club if you look around at most of the guys in the field now, and it would’ve been the same way if he would’ve run me down from that far. We would’ve raced each other the same way. It was just both of our cars worked out to where his was better than mine and just gave me a position to get up under him.”
While McCall made the right moves at the right time in the final laps, he certainly had a tough road to get to the lead. McCall started the race in third, but he was involved in a crash on the backstretch just after the halfway mark. Following the halfway break, McCall started the second half of the race from the rear, due to the field’s order following the crash. Restarting from the rear at Southern National Motorsports Park isn’t an easy feat to overcome, but McCall methodically made up the lost time.
“They paid money at the 100 (lap mark), and I got a little greedy there trying to get that money, and that put me in a bad spot,” McCall said. “However you want to call it, fortunately, I knew there were enough laps we could fight it there to try and get our position, but we weren’t able to. We just tried to pick them off and save a little bit, but there wasn’t much saving there for the last run.”
McCall is a crew chief for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, so this event is typically the only race that he is able to participate in throughout the season.
Following the victory, McCall said, “It doesn’t matter if I only race once a year, I’m still coming to win.”
As for McCaskill, he had to settle for a second-place effort after setting the pace for the entire race. McCaskill spent most of the race holding on to the top spot and trying to save his tires and equipment for the final laps. After every caution, McCaskill’s car took off, and he’d set sail.
“We had a great car,” McCaskill said. “The car really come to life when the sun went down. We got the four tires, and we just rode, man. I rode, and I rode, and I rode. I knew those guys. These are some smart racers.”
McCaskill continued and said, “When you’re leading like that, you’ve got to set a pace, and you can’t go too fast. So, I just sat there, and I rode and I rode. I knew what kind of lap times to run. After every caution, the car was just flawless. We got that big lead, and they kept telling me that Matt is up to third, up to second, and it was just time to go. I took off, and he took off.”
In the closing laps of Sunday’s Thanksgiving Classic, the leaders encountered heavy traffic. That was a huge advantage for McCall, because it slowed McCaskill’s pace and helped him make up lost ground.
“Lapped cars hurt me a little bit, but that’s just racing, man,” McCaskill said. “There wasn’t anything I could do. I tired to get around as quick as I can, and I slipped a few times, and Matt was able to capitalize on it. I just had one little wiggle off of (Turn) 4, and he got his nose up under me. There was nothing I could do.”
On the final lap, McCaskill thought that he had one final opportunity to retake the lead after McCall bounced off the backstretch wall, but he was already committed to the high side heading into Turn 3 for the final time. With the two drivers being seasoned veterans, there were no dirty maneuvers, just good, clean racing to the finish.
“He got by me, and he got into the wall on the backstretch,” McCaskill said. “I had another great run on him, but I was already committed to the high side, and it was just over from there, man.”
Finishing in third was Deac’s younger brother, Bradley, followed by Bobby McCarty who started on the outside of the pole and Layne Riggs. Unofficially rounding out the top-10 were Brandon Pierce, Philip Morris, Stacy Puryear, Tyler Matthews and Brenden Queen.
- Matt McCall
- Deac McCaskill
- Bradley McCaskill
- Bobby McCarty
- Layne Riggs
- Brandon Pierce
- Philip Morris
- Stacy Puryear
- Tyler Matthews
- Brenden Queen
- Taylor Gray
- Drew Dollar
- Justin Johnson
- Mike Darne
- Cliff Daniels
- Colin Garrett
- Tyler Hughes
- Mark Wertz
- Mike Ganoe
- Casey Wyatt
- Dennis Holdren
- Chris Johnson
- Davin Scites
- Thomas Burbage
- Robbie Babb
- Ryan Wilson
- Jonathan Findley
- Mini Tyrrell
- Cameron Bowen
- Camden Gullie
- Terry Dease
- Terry Brooks Jr.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com