Taylor Gray And Matt Craig Victorious In Enthralling CARS Tour Opener At Southern National

Taylor Gray And Matt Craig Victorious In Enthralling CARS Tour Opener At Southern National

by March 8, 2020 0 comments

LUCAMA, N.C. – Taylor Gray and Matt Craig opened the sixth season of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour with victories in a thrilling Solid Rock Carriers 300 at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday afternoon.

Gray led several different times during the Solid Rock Carriers LMSC 150, ultimately making the race-winning pass around Deac McCaskill on lap 129 in a race where tire management was the key factor. The two drivers had swapped the lead back-and-forth several times through the middle stages of the event.  After Gray made the pass, he was able to hold off McCaskill for the final 20 laps to claim the win.

“The first 120 laps, we were running 17-second laps and just trying to pace the field as much as possible,” Gray said. “Just saving tires and managing the gap (behind you) is key.  You’re worried about a late race caution because anything can happen.”

“I’ve been in the right situation and the wrong situation. It just depends. The people who were around me were really good, really experienced.  They’ve been racing Late Models for years.  It’s just a matter of what position you put yourself in and how you handle it.”

Gray said he sought advice from Bubba Pollard throughout the weekend. That advice paid dividends in his second career Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour Late Model Stock win. Four-time Southern National Motorsports Park track champion and 2016 CARS Tour champion Deac McCaskill finished second.

“[Gray] was stout, man,” McCaskill said. “(He was) really strong off the corner. Our car wasn’t bad – I thought I could do something on the outside there for a little bit. He just prevailed on the long run. I just got really free like everybody else did and was hanging on to it.”

Connor Mosack finished third in his CARS Tour debut for JR Motorsports while Josh Berry and Layne Riggs rounded out the top five.

Before the race, track owner Michael Diaz applied PJ1 Track Bite compound prior to the race, allowing for more side-by-side racing. The close-quarters racing brought cautions with it, and the Late Model Stock feature was slowed by five of them – two competition cautions and three for on-track incidents.

Matt Craig led wire-to-wire in the Super Late Model feature on Saturday to score his sixth career Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour victory. With the victory, Craig became the first driver of the season to win the Rowdy Manufacturing Super Challenge and its $5,000 bonus.

“I really love this track,” Craig said.  “It’s worn out. It’s slick. It’s got no grip. I really like that.  The car was really good. I can’t do it without my team. That’s what won me the race really.  This is my seventh win here. I saw comments when we won here last week about no competition. I don’t think you can say there was no competition today.  We had a really good car. I can’t thank Rowdy Manufacturing enough and the CARS Tour for putting on a good show.”

Trevor Noles was fastest in qualifying but instantly surrendered the lead on the initial start of the race.  Noles ultimately raced his way through the field to finish second, but could not get within striking distance of Craig.

“These Super Late Models are tough,” Noles said. “We’ve got to figure out how to maintain our tires a little bit better at the end and see if we can not lose as much track position. We’ll go to Hickory and see if we can’t get one there.”

Stephen Nasse finished third while Travis Braden and Carson Kvapil completed the top five.

Both divisions of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour will return to action on Saturday, March 21 for the Race Face Tel-Med 300 at Hickory Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET). Tickets are available through Hickory Motor Speedway’s ticket office, which can be reached at (828) 464-3655. All races of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour are broadcast live on CARSTour.TV.

Results: Solid Rock Carriers 300 pres. by SRI Performance and FURY Race Cars – Southern National Motorsports Park, Lucama, N.C. – March 7, 2020

Late Model Stock Cars (150 laps)

  1. Taylor Gray
  2. Deac McCaskill
  3. Connor Mosack
  4. Josh Berry
  5. Layne Riggs
  6. Mike Darne
  7. Ronald Hill
  8. Jonathan Findley
  9. Jonathan Shafer
  10. Bobby McCarty
  11. Justin Johnson
  12. Matt Cox
  13. Jared Fryar
  14. Craig Moore
  15. Corey Heim
  16. Brandon Pierce
  17. Nolan Pope
  18. Tyler Matthews
  19. Chad McCumbee
  20. Chris Chapman
  21. Trevor Ward
  22. Gage Painter
  23. Tommy Lemons, Jr.
  24. Mini Tyrrell

Super Late Models (150 laps)

  1. Matt Craig
  2. Trevor Noles
  3. Stephen Nasse
  4. Travis Braden
  5. Carson Kvapil
  6. Kodie Conner
  7. Mike Hopkins
  8. Hudson Halder
  9. Mike Speeny
  10. Austin McDonald
  11. Jeff Batten
  12. Sammy Smith
  13. Gabe Sommers
  14. Bubba Pollard
  15. Jeremy Barclay

Source: CARS Tour

By: Andy Marquis

Photo Credit: Christian Gardner

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