Qualifying for the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Car Tour at Orange County Speedway featured some of the fastest laps in recent history at the track, with four drivers posting a new track record. Three of those drivers would find themselves in a tight battle for the lead throughout the 100-lap feature, but Deac McCaskill proved to be the best of the group, as he would hold off both Brandon Pierce and Lee Pulliam to become the first repeat winner in CARS Tour history at Orange County.

“We had the high side rolling on those restarts,” McCaskill said. “I could get through 1 and 2, and it was just going to be real hard for those guys to get by me. I slipped up on that first restart when I took the bottom, and I really thought Lee had a good car. He was riding, and then he got the lead, and then his car didn’t look that good. I got around him, but the car kept freeing up just a little bit after every restart, but we had just enough tire left to hold off those guys at the end.”

The Raleigh, North Carolina native arrived in Rougemont on Friday sporting a different number than his usual #08, as he was selected by Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive the #88 for Josh Berry, who elected to skip the Mid-Atlantic Classic to make his ARCA debut with Chad Bryant Racing. The combination between McCaskill and Earnhardt Jr. proved to be successful, as the Late Model veteran posted the second fast time in the second Late Model practice, and qualified on the front row alongside Brandon Pierce.

McCaskill quickly pulled out in front of Pierce at the start of the race, but would have to fall in line behind the polesitter when a multi-car accident that involved Scott Riggs, Craig Moore and several others brought out the caution before one lap was completed. With the field reset to its original order for the restart, McCaskill once again used the high line to overtake Pierce, and proceeded to pull away from the rest of the field.

It would only take a few laps for McCaskill to encounter his first real challenge of the evening in the form of Lee Pulliam, who managed to run down McCaskill shortly after overtaking Pierce, but was unable to gain the lead. A competition caution on Lap 35 placed McCaskill and Pulliam on the front row for the restart, which allowed Pulliam to take the lead away and briefly pull away from McCaskill before an accident involving Justin Johnson, Trevor Ward and Terry Dease brought out the caution once again.

The next several laps consisted of a close battle between McCaskill and Pulliam for the lead, with McCaskill gaining the advantage on Lap 47. Pulliam refused to let McCaskill pull away from him, and remained locked on McCaskill’s back bumper over the next several restarts before his car began to fade with 25 laps remaining, allowing the Nelson Motorsports teammates of Pierce and Bobby McCarty to enter the battle for the lead.

A bad restart by Pulliam with 19 laps remaining allowed Pierce to overtake Pulliam for second and chase down McCaskill for the lead, but was unable to make a move on the Late Model veteran prior to the last caution of the evening coming out for debris. Pierce would spend the last ten green flag laps gradually inching closer to McCaskill, and was able to get to his back bumper coming to the checkered flag, but an attempt to bump McCaskill out of the way failed, allowing the Late Model veteran to score his sixth career CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour victory.

McCaskill was impressed with the run that Pierce made on him towards the end of the race, but added that he knew the CARS Response Energy Tour rookie was not going to bump him out of the way to pick up his first career victory.

“I’ve been around this track for so many laps, and I knew it was going to be really hard for him to bump me and not hurt himself,” McCaskill said. “I knew that top was the key, and I was just able to get that momentum off of Turn 2 and cleared him down the backstretch.”

CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour points leader Bobby McCarty brought his Late Model home in the third position, while Lee Pulliam and Ty Gibbs finished fourth and fifth respectively. Charlie Watson, who failed to qualify for the first race of the season at Tri-County Motor Speedway finished in the sixth position, while Sam Mayer, Christopher Denny, Cody Haskins and Ronald Hill rounded out the Top 10.


CARS LMSC Feature Results:

1. 88 Deac McCaskill
2. 2p Brandon Pierce
3. 22m Bobby McCarty
4. 5p Lee Pulliam
5. 18 Ty Gibbs
6. 9w Charlie Watson
7. 9m Sam Mayer
8. 2d Christopher Denny
9. 2 Cody Haskins
10. 74 Ronald Hill
11. 44 Justin Johnson
12. 22 Grayson Cullather
13. 27 Craig Stallard
14. 63 Tyler Matthews
15. 09 Bruce Anderson
16. 99 Scott Riggs OUT
17. 07 Bradley McCaskill OUT
18. 77 Trevor Ward OUT
19. 12 Austin Thaxton OUT
20. 06 Terry Dease OUT
21. 35 Carson Kvapil OUT
22. 1m Craig Moore OUT