After Layne Riggs was controversially sent to the rear of the field following a late-race accident, current CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour points leader managed to hold off a charge from the Bahama, North Carolina native to pick up his fourth career victory of the season and increase his advantage in the points standings over his competition.
McCarty and his team celebrated intensely in victory lane after holding off Riggs, who had the fastest car of the evening, but McCarty admitted that it was only by circumstance that he ended up taking home the checkered flag, as he struggled with the car throughout the entire race.
“Sometimes you’re good, sometimes you’re lucky,” McCarty said about his victory. “The car definitely wasn’t where we needed it to be, and it wouldn’t cut like I needed it to. We only had a second or third place car, but not a race-winning car. I hate that for the #99 team and I hold Layne in a high regard. He’s got a bright future ahead of him, but things just didn’t work out for him tonight.”
Riggs established himself as one of the clear favorites to win by the end of the second practice, where he posted the fastest time of the session, and backed the strong lap up by earning the pole position for the inaugural Crystal Coast 125. Riggs managed to stay in front of the chaos at the back of the field, as three early cautions eliminated contenders such as Sam Mayer and Cody Haskins, all while Riggs maintained his advantage over McCarty and defending CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour champion Josh Berry.
On a restart following a competition caution, McCarty and Riggs made slight contact going into Turns 1 and 2, which caused McCarty to slide up the track and briefly fall outside the Top 5. McCarty regained his composure and clawed his way all the way back up to the third position, but the series points leader continued to lose time to both Riggs and Berry, both of whom opened up a four second advantage over the rest of the field as they battle it out for the lead.
The fight between Riggs and Berry came to a head with 25 laps to go as Berry got into the back of Riggs going into Turn 1, which caused him to do a complete spin with his #99 Late Model without sustaining any damage. Berry would not be as fortunate as Riggs, as he was hit hard by the lapped car of Sarah Cornett-Ching, which ended both of their evenings prematurely.
During the ensuing caution, CARS Response Energy Tour officials deliberated over whether or not Riggs caused the yellow flag to be displayed, as doing so would put the #99 to the rear of the field. Members of Riggs crew argued vigorously that Berry was the reason for the caution, but officials saw it differently, as Riggs was forced to start from the tail end of the field while McCarty and Ty Gibbs started on the front row.
As McCarty wrestled the lead away from Gibbs, Riggs raced his way up to the front of the field with only a handful of laps remaining, and found himself on the back bumper of McCarty in the final moments of the race. Despite posting faster lap times than McCarty, Riggs was unable to make a move for the lead, as McCarty narrowly held him off to pick up the victory at Carteret County Speedway.
McCarty entered the weekend with a lot of questions surrounding Carteret County Speedway, as he had never taken a lap on the track prior to the Crystal Coast 125, but was proud of all the hard work that his team put into his car over the weekend. However, McCarty credited the late-race turn of events for giving him an opportunity to take home the victory for Nelson Motorsports.
“We did get knocked up out of the way, which is fine, it’s whatever,” McCarty said. “Once I got to third, they had about 2 to 3 seconds on me, and I knew there was no way that I was going to catch them. I was told to back off so that we could start saving tires if there was a caution, so I just started riding, and at the end of the night, everything worked out for us.”
McCarty’s teammate, Brandon Pierce, came home with a third-place finish after being involved in a multi-car accident early in the event. Tommy Lemons Jr. brought his #27 Jumpstart Motorsports Late Model home in the fourth position, while Ty Gibbs rounded out the Top 5.
1. 22m Bobby McCarty
2. 99 Layne Riggs
3. 2p Brandon Pierce
4. 27 Tommy Lemons Jr.
5. 18 Ty Gibbs
6. 5 Lee Pulliam
7. 07 Bradley McCaskill
8. 74 Ronald Hill
9. 88 Josh Berry OUT
10. 44 Sarah Cornett-Ching OUT
11. 22 Deac McCaskill OUT
12. 1m Craig Moore OUT
13. 2 Cody Haskins OUT
14. 9 Sam Mayer OUT
15. 77 Trevor Ward OUT
16. 9w Charlie Watson OUT