Hickory Motor Speedway will once again be the stage for the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour on August 1 as the series returns for the Catawba Valley 250.
In the first race of the season at Hickory on June 13, Corey Heim picked up his first career series victory in a Late Model Stock Car. Bubba Pollard bested defending series champion Matt Craig in the Super Late Models before backing that victory up with another at the Jennerstown Speedway Complex on Independence Day.
In past seasons, this has been the weekend of the Throwback 276, the largest event of the season for the CARS Tour. However, the format of this weekend’s race has been altered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the throwback theme put on hiatus for the 2020 season.
Catawba Valley 300 Notes & Quotes
Event Name: Catawba Valley 250
Track and Location: Hickory Motor Speedway; Newton, North Carolina
Length: 0.363 mi (0.584 km)
Laps / Distance: 150 laps / 54.45 mi / 87.6 km (LMSC & SLM)
- Practice: LMSC 1:00pm-1:30pm, SLM 1:35pm-2:05pm, LMSC 2:10pm-2:40pm, SLM 2:45pm-3:15pm
- Qualifying: LMSC 5:15pm (single car), SLM 5:45pm (single car)
- Green: 7:00pm – SLM (125 laps)/LMSC (125 laps)
LMSC Entry List (24 total)
- #08 Deac McCaskill
- #1 Nolan Pope
- #1M Craig Moore
- #2 Brandon Pierce
- #2R Braden Rogers
- #2S Jonathan Shafer
- #4 Jonathan Findley
- #12p Gage Painter
- #14 Jared Fryar
- #16 Chad McCumbee
- #19 Blake Stallings
- #19c Jessica Cann
- #22 Bobby McCarty
- #44 Justin Johnson
- #51 Matt Cox
- #57 Justin Carroll
- #63 Tyler Matthews
- #74 Ronald Hill
- 377 Trevor Ward
- #78 Corey Heim
- #81 Mini Tyrrell
- #81B Sam Butler
- #88 Connor Mosack
- #99 Layne Riggs
SLM Entry List (36 total)
- #7 Justin Crider
- #7c Tyler Church
- $15 Mike Hopkins
- #15f Jeff Fultz
- #21 Kris Wright
- #21s Dylan Smith
- #22 Trevor Noles
- #35 Carson Kvapil
- #45 Kodie Conner
- #49 Jeff Batten
- #51 Sammy Smith
- #54 Matt Craig
Nolan Pope hopes to become next CARS Tour winner
Nolan Pope, one of this year’s Lucas Oil Touring 12 drivers in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars, comes to Hickory riding a wave of momentum.
“It’s pretty cool to even race in the CARS Tour,” said the 22-year-old from Harrisonville, Missouri. “Being a part of the Touring 12, it’s cool to get your name with a bunch of those people. It’s hard to do and it’s cool to be recognized by the CARS Tour and fun to be a part of the CARS Tour.”
When the series raced at Hickory in June, Pope scored a career-best third-place finish. Since then, Pope earned Late Model Stock Car wins at Hickory Motor Speedway and Tri-County Speedway with Lee Faulk Racing and is confident he can become the third different first-time winner in LMSC competition this season.
“The last time we were at Hickory with the CARS Tour, we finished third, and I think we have an even better car now,” Pope said. “We’ve been to Hickory a few times since then and learned even more since the last CARS Tour race so I think we’ll definitely have a shot at it.
Pope outdueled Josh Berry, a former LMSC Champion of the CARS Tour, for a win at Hickory on July 11. Winning in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour against some of Late Model Stock Car racing’s most elite competition, however, would be a career highlight.
“A win would be huge. It’d be the biggest win of my career for sure, and probably the biggest for Lee Faulk Racing too, said Pope. “I don’t know if they’ve ever won a CARS Tour race so it’d be special for them. Anytime you win one of those races, you’ve done something because you’re racing some of the best in the country.”
Matt Craig looking for second win of 2020 season
Defending CARS Tour Super Late Model champion Matt Craig is hoping to pick up his third series victory at Hickory Motor Speedway and his second win of the 2020 season.
In recent years, the 21-year-old has become one of the standout drivers in Super Late Model racing. He won earlier this year at Southern National Motorsports Park, came close to winning at Hickory in June after winning in the Throwback 276 in 2019, and comes to Hickory fresh off a win in the Masters of the Pros for the ARCA?CRA All-Stars Tour at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.
“I think we have a really good shot at winning this weekend,” Craig said. “We’re only going there looking for a win. There will be some good guys out there, so we don’t want to say we expect to win, but we have a car and the experience to win there for sure.”
“[Winning at Nashville] gave us a ton of confidence. Nashville is a really hard track to get around and our car handled great there. It’s rough and bumpy and doesn’t have a lot of grip like Hickory. Hickory is a smaller track, but we can take a lot of what worked at Nashville and make it work there.”
In the last two CARS Tour races at Hickory, Craig has battled Bubba Pollard for the win – upsetting the Super Late Model titan last August and finishing third in June. Craig expects nothing different this weekend.
“If you’re at the end of the race and you’re anywhere near Bubba on the track, you’re probably racing for the win,” Craig said. “Beating him anywhere is hard. Racing with him shows just how good our team is performing.
For Craig, his recent success has been evidence of the No. 54 team’s evolution. “It took us five or six years to gain experience at the track, and for me to get better behind the wheel,” he said. “My team gives me great-handling cars capable of winning every week. It’s been a climb to get here and a lot of work, but it’s awesome that we can go to any race now and try to win. We’re not going anywhere hoping for a top-10 or top-five, we’re going for wins.”
CARS Tour Implements Guidelines to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
While most sports in the United States are still shut down due to the pandemic, the motorsports industry has been slowly ramping back up to normal operations. NASCAR, INDYCAR, MotoAmerica and Supercross are a few of the sanctioning bodies that have resumed within the past few weeks, albeit with a new set of operating procedures designed to keep all who are at the track healthy and safe. The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour implemented new safety procedures that were used at Ace Speedway last weekend and will continue to be in effect at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday. Those policies include (but are not limited to) the following:
- On Friday, all personnel will have their temperature screened before entering the race track.
- Driver Intros will not be held amongst the crowd, per usual; instead, drivers will be introduced from their cars on the grid.
- Trailers will be spread out across the infield to maintain proper social distancing.
- Spotters will be required to wear masks during the race.
- Masks will be strongly recommended for those who are in the infield and required for all Victory Lane celebrations.
About the CARS Tour
The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour is one of the premier short track series in the United States. Drivers compete in Late Model Stock Cars and Super Late Models at the best short tracks across the Carolinas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. The CARS Tour can be found on Facebook at “CARS Tour”, on Twitter @CARSTour, and on Instagram as @CARS_Tour. For more information, visit www.carsracingtour.com or call their Mooresville, N.C. offices at 704.662.9212.