Current CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour points leader Bobby McCarty originally intended to skip the U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway, as he expressed concerns about the racing conditions at the half-mile short-track, and wanted to avoid tearing up one of Nelson Motorsports Late Models. However, McCarty elected to file an entry for the event shortly before cars took to the track on Friday, allowing him to stay in the battle for the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour championship.
McCarty initially struggled to find the speed that he needed to earn a strong qualifying run in the U.S. Short Track Nationals, as he placed 15th, 9th and 12th respectively in the first three practice sessions. McCarty and Nelson Motorsports were able to resolve their issues in the final practice session, as he placed 3rd out of 24 Late Model drivers, which gave McCarty renewed confidence going into the group qualifying session.
Although it appeared that McCarty would start on the front row alongside Lee Pulliam for the 100-lap Late Model feature, a discrepancy in scoring knocked McCarty down to the eighth starting position, which upset him and his team. McCarty was confused by the CARS Response Energy Tour’s decision to disqualify his fastest lap of the session, and believes that he could have challenged for the win if he maintained his position on the front row.
“The car was coming along,” McCarty said. “We were running really quick lap times compared to the leaders, and I could run cars down, but I couldn’t keep the momentum up and pass them, as I would lose the front end. Not starting up toward the front definitely hurt our weekend, and if I was up there, I could have delivered a finish way better than seventh without a doubt.”
The explanation that McCarty received from CARS Response Energy Tour officials about his disallowed qualifying lap was that his fast time of 15.170 was considered his dead lap, which meant that the lap was not officially scored. McCarty believes that his fast lap was legal, and although he partially blamed himself for not understanding group-qualifying rules better, he wished that the series had provided a more coherent answer as to why his fast lap was ruled a dead lap.
After the green flag dropped for the 100-lap Late Model feature, passing proved to be difficult for every driver behind the leaders of Pulliam and Snider, which included McCarty, who spent most of the race riding behind Deac McCaskill, who was 18 points behind McCarty going into Bristol. McCarty was able to pass McCaskill by Lap 60, but severe thunderstorms brought an end to the race at Lap 64, forcing McCarty to settle for a seventh place finish behind race-winner Lee Pulliam.
Although the official CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour point standing will not be released until later in the week, McCarty estimates that he lost approximately four of five points to Pulliam on Saturday. McCarty knows that the chassis he borrowed from fellow competitor Matt Bowling was more than capable of racing up at the front and bringing home a victory, and is looking forward to putting Bristol behind him as he pursues a championship.
“The way this weekend went has got me fired up,” McCarty said. “I’m not happy about it, and the rest of the team feels the same way. We’re here to win a championship, and we are not here to play games. We got some good data for Ace, with Timothy having run there in the past, and we’re looking forward to getting back where we need to be with our regular equipment.”
Pulliam’s victory at Bristol ties him with McCarty for two wins during the season, but McCarty will look to add another victory to his debut CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour season when the series visits Ace Speedway for the first time on June 9th. McCarty is confident that he can turn his luck around at the 4/10 mile track, but he will have to hold off an even mix of CARS Response Energy Tour and Ace regulars in order to extend his points lead over Pulliam.