On the final lap of the Who’s Your Driver 125 at Langley Speedway, Layne Riggs and Bobby McCarty found themselves side-by-side as the both sought after a much-needed victory.
When the checkered flag flew, neither driver held the top spot, as Deac McCaskill drove around both of them following a late-race incident that sent McCarty out of the groove and Riggs into a spin in the middle of Turns 3 and 4.
Riggs was able to keep his car straight by bouncing off another car, which allowed him to bring his #99 Puryear Tank Lines/Romeo Guest Construction Ford home in the fifth position, which is his first Top 5 of the 2019 season.
“I felt like I had a half-decent car for most of the race,” Riggs said. “I had some pretty good tires at the end, and I was second on that green-white checkered. I tried to roll up under Bobby, but I wasn’t trying to hit him that hard or turn him around. He hit the brakes because he was a little tight in the middle, and I didn’t realize that. We got into it in Turn 3, and neither of us won the race.”
Riggs and McCarty established themselves as the two drivers to beat from the minute the track was open on Saturday afternoon, as they posted the Top 2 times in each practice session and earned the front row for the 125-lap feature, with Riggs getting the pole.
Neither driver would see the front of the field long when the green flag was displayed, as Justin Carroll would make a bold three-wide move on both of them to take the lead on the third lap of the race.
Carroll would maintain his lead by obtaining several great restarts, all while Riggs, McCarty and CARS LMSC Tour points leader Josh Berry saved their tires and prepared to make a charge towards the finish.
McCarty would be the one to get a clean shot on Carroll, as he put the bumper to the back of his Late Model and got around him on Lap 80. Berry, Riggs and McCaskill would each follow McCarty around Carroll over the next several laps as Carroll’s car continued to fade.
Berry would prove to be McCarty’s toughest challenge over the second half of the race until he was involved in accident with Riggs with 20 laps to go, which put Riggs on the front row for the ensuing restart.
Although Riggs could keep pace with McCarty, he was unable to make a move on him for the lead, but he and the rest of the field would get one last opportunity at a victory when a spin by Brandon Pierce set up a green-white-checkered finish.
McCarty got the restart he was looking for, but all of his momentum quickly evaporated after he was bumped by Riggs heading into Turn 2 on the last lap. The duo would race door-to-door on the backstretch until the collided again in Turn 3, which opened the door for McCaskill to steal the win away from both of them.
McCarty brought his #22 SunTrust/AutosbyNelson.com Toyota in second following the contact with Riggs, but he admitted that he was stuck in a bad situation having to hold off both Riggs and McCaskill on the final restart.
“I should have kept Layne to the outside,” McCarty said. “I was scared to because I thought Deac’s car was pretty good. I knew he wouldn’t drive through me, but Deac will stick it three-wide without a doubt. It’s a situation where you’re damned if you do and your damned if you don’t.”
McCarty has always considered Langley to be one of his favorite tracks, and believed that he had done everything right to pick up a victory in the CARS Tour’s inaugural visit to the facility by saving tires and biding his time. McCarty stated that he does not hold any ill will towards Riggs for making the aggressive move on the last lap, as he knows that both of them were doing everything possible to cross the finish line first.
Despite coming up short of a win, McCarty considered the weekend to be a success, as he is expected to take the lead of the CARS LMSC Tour point standings following Berry’s issues. McCarty knows that it will take consistency to defeat Berry over the next five races, but he is confident that he and everyone else at Nelson Motorsports are more than capable of completing the task.
“This team is really starting to hit its stride, and we’re really thriving together,” McCarty said. “We’re on the back half of the season, and I can’t think of a better time to get our mojo back. Let’s go racing. I’m ready.”
Like McCarty, Riggs was not upset with how his race turned out, as the Who’s Your Driver 125 marked the first time that he had finished a race since the season-opening Solid Rock Carriers 300 at Southern National Motorsports Park.
With five consecutive DNFs entering Saturday’s race, Riggs knows that a championship is not going to happen for him, but he and his team plan to use their strong performance at Langley as motivation to keep grinding and improving over the second half of the year.
“I’m out here to have fun and get my name out there,” Riggs said. “This is the most fun I’ve had all year, so I hope we have good enough cars that will keep us running up front and having that fun. Hopefully we’ll be able to check off a win as well.”
McCarty and Riggs will look to rebound from their last-lap misfortunes at Langley when the CARS LMSC Tour travels to Dominion Raceway for the Radley Cadillac & Chevrolet 125 on June 22. While McCarty has never competed at Dominion in the CARS LMSC Tour, Riggs picked up his first career victory and a second place finish during the QDMA Duels at Dominion in 2017.