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Berry, Plott Victorious at Orange County

ROUGEMONT, NC (Sept. 10, 2018) - The CARS Response Energy Tour beat Mother Nature on Saturday night at Orange County Speedway, completing all 300 scheduled laps of the Thrifty Tire Center / Puryear Tank Lines 300 in record time at the .375-mile facility. Despite the quick showtime, the racing was fierce and resulted in a return to victory lane for one driver, Josh Berry, while Kyle Plott scored his first career series triumph in a fantastic comeback story.

LATE MODEL STOCK RECAP: 

Qualifying for both divisions was washed out due to a passing shower and on-track weepers, setting the field by the rulebook and ultimately combined practice speeds from earlier in the afternoon. By virtue of his practice run, Craig Moore captured his first career Hedgecock Racing Pole Position and led the opening eleven laps of the race.

On lap 11, outside pole sitter Bradley McCaskill missed turn three and slid into the outside wall, ultimately stopping on-track with damage just a circuit later to bring out the first and only caution flag for an on-track incident in the race. Following the restart, Deac McCaskill motored around Craig Moore for the race lead and held the point through lap 92.

By rule, the CARS Response Energy Tour throws a competition caution for every 40 consecutive green flag laps early in an event. The ensuing restart after the lap 92 caution found Josh Berry alongside of Deac McCaskill, where the JR Motorsports driver took full advantage of a front row start and rocketed around McCaskill on lap 93. Despite challenges from McCaskill and Ronald Hill late in the race, Berry held on for his second win of the season and the third consecutive victory for JR Motorsports in the CARS Response Energy Tour. Deac McCaskill held on for second while Craig Moore, Tommy Lemons, Jr., and Bobby McCarty rounded out the top five.

"I'll be honest, we were really close; he was really good and we were really good," Berry said in Edelbrock Victory Lane. "He looked to be a tick tight, we were a tick loose, and I knew it was going to come down to that restart. The outside went, and I felt like I had to find a way to make it happen. I sailed off in there, turned it sideways, stood on the gas and had him pinned down enough where I could carry the momentum through three and four. 

"We are on it at the right time, that's for sure" he continued when asked about the momentum JR Motorsports has late in the season. "To win one of these races is such a hard feat because everyone in this field is so good. These are the best of the best in these races every week. We got off to a slow start and we're hitting our stride. That's three in a row for this organization and we've got a big one coming up soon, and I'd sure like to have a clock."


SUPER LATE MODEL RECAP:

Raphael Lessard made the most of final practice to log the fastest time of the day, placing him on the Mahle Pistons Pole Position to start the super late model portion of the Thrifty Tire Center / Puryear Tank Lines 300 at Orange County. Much like the late model stock race, Lessard held onto the lead early but Steve Wallace motored around the driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to take the point on lap five.

In one of the cleanest displays of driving by the super late model competitors all season, Wallace led the field for the majority of the race, including through three competition cautions which came on laps 40, 83 and 123. Occasional challenges from Lessard, and Matt Craig were met with additional speed from the No. 66 Ford, and Wallace held strong on the point through the third competition yellow.

The restart on lap 123 is where it all began to unravel for some. Contact from Matt Craig sent Raphael Lessard down the speedway where he entered turn one at a bad angle, bouncing off of Wallace's left rear and spinning the race leader in front of the field. Miraculously, no other contact was made despite cars spinning in the aftermath. By rule in the CARS Response Energy Tour, anyone involved in the caution must go to the tail, meaning each of the three were sent to the back for the final 27 lap sprint to the flag.

Kyle Plott and Corey Heim inherited the front two positions after the call, positioning both drivers for a shot at their first career win. After a handful of restarts for relatively harmless spins, Plott and Heim came down for the final restart with just 16 laps remaining with Steve Wallace immediately behind them. The pair raced side-by-side for laps on end with Heim stealing the lead on lap 145. Undeterred, Plott moved up the racetrack to retake the position and held on for his first career win. Heim finished second followed by Wallace, Jared Fryar and Lessard.

For Plott, the win was exceptionally unlikely because his team had begun loading up at the end of practice with a motor issue, but thanks to quick thinking and some generous hands at-track, were able to repair the issue (head gasket) before the race began.

"The motor laid down in practice and we were struggling and loading up," Plott explained in Edelbrock Victory Lane. "Robert Long came by and asked if we needed a head gasket for this thing and I said yeah, so me and the crew busted tail on this thing and got if fixed. I was trying to save my tires as good as I could because I knew we were too free and I was spinning them too much. Somehow I got out with that win because the 78 (Heim) was battling me hard and I appreciate him racing me clean, but I had to work for that one and am a little wore out."

The next event on the CARS Response Energy Tour comes at South Boston Speedway on Saturday, November 3. The dual-division show will crown champions for the second consecutive year with a two-horse race in both the late model stock and super late model divisions. 

For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at www.carsracingtour.com. Fresh content and updates can also be found on the series Facebook page (@carstour), Twitter (@carstour), Instagram (@cars_tour), Snapchat (@carstour) and Youtube channel (/carstour). The series Roku app is also available for installation to see live and on-demand events by following the instructions available at www.carstour.tv.




NOTES OF INTEREST:

- Bobby McCarty expanded his point lead over Lee Pulliam by virtue of a finish ahead of him on Saturday night. Mathematically, everyone else is eliminated from the late model stock championship battle entering South Boston and Pulliam will need some help in order to pull off a title in his first full season with the tour. 

- Raphael Lessard raced back from his late race incident to score a top five finish just behind the super late model title leader Jared Fryar. Unofficially, Lessard is eight points behind Fryar entering the South Boston finale in November, meaning he must outperform Fryar for the best chance to steal the title where a win, in the right circumstances, could narrowly hand the Kyle Busch Motorsports pilot his second tour championship in three years.

- The CARS Response Energy Tour announced the largest late model stock race in history, by all accounts, on Friday night prior to this event in a meeting with competitors. The Old North State Nationals will be held April 5-7, 2019, at Orange County Speedway and will feature a $30,000-to-win winner's purse with a guaranteed $1250 to start the main event and a limit of six tires in the 200-lap feature. Per position, the event pays as much or more than any other late model stock race in the country with additional bonuses and contingency awards still to be announced.



THE FINISHES:

CARS Late Model Stock Tour                
Puryear Tank Lines / Thrifty Tire Center 300                
Orange County Speedway - September 8, 2018                
                
POS    NUM    DRIVER    LAPS    REASON OUT
1.    88    Josh Berry    150    
2.    22    Deac McCaskill    150    
3.    1M    Craig Moore    150    
4.    27    Tommy Lemons, Jr.    150    
5.    22M    Bobby McCarty    150    
6.    9    Sam Mayer    150    
7.    2P    Brandon Pierce    150    
8.    5    Lee Pulliam    150    
9.    9W    Charlie Watson    150    
10.    2    Chris Denny    150    
11.    01    Camden Gullie    149    
12.    74    Ronald Hill    141    Engine
13.    07    Bradley McCaskill    131    Mechanical
14.    99    Layne Riggs    121    Mechanical
15.    57    Justin Johnson    111    Mechanical
16.    18    Ty Gibbs    103    Mechanical
17.    44    Mike Chambers    57    Mechanical



CARS Super Late Model Tour                
Puryear Tank Lines / Thrifty Tire Center 300                
Orange County Speedway - September 8, 2018                
                
POS    NUM    DRIVER    LAPS    REASON OUT
1.    4P    Kyle Plott    150    
2.    78    Corey Heim    150    
3.    66    Steve Wallace    150    
4.    14    Jared Fryar    150    
5.    18    Raphael Lessard    150    
6.    17    Mike Speeney    150    
7.    00    Anthony Cataldi    150    
8.    16    Molly Helmuth    150    
9.    2    Darrell Gilchrist    150    
10.    2T    Gracie Trotter    150    
11.    8    Tate Fogleman    150    
12.    49    Jeff Batten    150    
13.    54    Matt Craig    150    
14.    37    Dan Speeney    149    
15.    12    Dean Ward    72    Mechanical
16.    32    Harold Crooms    21    Mechanical
17.    7    Tyler Church    0    DNS (Rear End)



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