While Josh Berry pulled away with a dominating victory in the AutosByNelson.com 250 Late Model feature, all eyes were on the battle for second place between CARS LMSC Tour points leader Bobby McCarty, Corey Heim and Layne Riggs.
With Berry accumulating several bonus points during the race, McCarty knew that every position mattered in the closing laps, and managed to successfully hold off Riggs and Heim to become the first driver to register two CARS LMSC Tour titles, which he accomplished by just one point.
“It’s still unbelievable,” McCarty said. “Josh showed up and did everything he needed to do and we squeaked by with the bare minimum. We’re not too happy with a second, as Josh is in a different zip code right now, so we definitely need to make our stuff better, but for me to make history tonight for me and everyone on our AutosByNelson.com team is something special.”
McCarty and his team found themselves in a hole early by lacking the overall speed needed to be inside the Top 5 in practice, and he was forced to settle for a 12th-place starting position while a blistering lap of 14.866 by Berry earned him the pole for the 125-lap feature.
Berry immediately began to pull away from Justin Carroll in the second position while McCarty mounted his charge to front, which involved narrowly avoiding an accident between his Nelson Motorsports teammate Timothy Peters and Craig Moore on the third lap of the race.
McCarty also worked the high line of the track to his advantage during the restarts and was able to methodically work his way to the front past several fast cars that included Heim, Riggs, Carroll and others.
“We wanted to be on the outside every time for the restart so I could make the right moves,” McCarty said. “I knew Corey’s car needed about six or seven laps to come in, and I knew that I had to get around him on that Lap 72 restart and get going, because I knew he was going to catch me. I got everything I could out of it.”
McCarty appeared poised to easily secure a second-place finish until Heim made another run at him with less than 10 laps to go, which forced McCarty to make his car as wide as he possibly could while Heim tried to pass him on the low line.
The battle between the two brought Riggs into the mix, who attempted to pass both Heim and McCarty on both lanes of the track, all of which happened behind Berry, who went on to secure his fourth win of the 2019 CARS LMSC Tour season.
Both Heim and Riggs got the runs they were looking for underneath McCarty heading into Turn 3, but McCarty was able to get a strong run off the final turn to edge out both of them in a photo finish and claim his second straight CARS LMSC Tour title.
A third-place finish from McCarty would have resulted in a tiebreaker that ultimately favored Berry for the championship, but the 2017 CARS LMSC Tour champion expressed his gratitude towards his crew for all of the effort they have put in during the season and was thrilled to bring home one last CARS LMSC Tour victory at South Boston.
“We really haven’t had great runs here over the past couple of years,” Berry said. “It took us about 10 laps for our tires to come in and get going, but I tried to manage the race from there. Even though it’s a little disappointing to come up short of the championship, it’s been an unbelievable year for us, and we can’t get too upset over the types of performances we’ve had.”
McCarty was fully aware that both Heim and Riggs were going to push him to his limit to try and gain one extra spot to finish out the year, but he praised their ability to provide constant pressure over the closing laps of the race and for not escalating the situation any further than what was necessary.
“Corey and Layne are class-act racers,” McCarty said. “They both had opportunities to rough me up and make the pass easy, but they tried doing it the right way, and I have to thank them for racing me the way they did. They raced me hard, but they raced me clean, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.”
McCarty stated that he has secured funding to compete for a full CARS LMSC Tour season in 2020 and is already looking forward to battling with Berry, Riggs, Heim and others as he looks to bring home a third consecutive title.
CARS LMSC Feature Results:
1. 88 Josh Berry
2. 22 Bobby McCarty
3. 78 Corey Heim
4. 99 Layne Riggs
5. 12 Timothy Peters
6. 57 Justin Carroll
7. 17 Taylor Gray
8. 81 Mini Tyrrell
9. 63 Tyler Matthews
10. 07 Camden Gullie
11. 74 Ronald Hill
12. 98 Connor Mosack
13. 77 Trevor Ward
14. 17f Jared Fryar -2
15. 19 Jessica Cann -4
16. 2 Brandon Pierce OUT
17. 1p Brody Pope OUT
18. 4 Jonathan Findley OUT
19. 54 Drew Dollar OUT
20. 1d Terry Dease OUT
21. 1m Craig Moore OUT
22. 29 Stuart Crews OUT
23. 08 Deac McCaskill OUT