Josh Berry was victorious in the final race of the 2015 Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Late Model Stock Tour at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night but it was Brayton Haws who won the inaugural series championship.

Haws finished in fifth place in a race where his championship rivals, Myatt Snider and Deac McCaskill, struggled.  That fifth place finish was enough for him to clinch the series championship after winning three races.  Haws started on the pole, clinching a valuable bonus point in doing so, and ran up inside the top-five all race.

“Basically, our strategy once the race started was to just save our tires in case there was that 10 lap to go caution like there was in the Spring,” Haws said.  “That’s what we did.  We kept them a pretty good ways behind us.  Our strategy worked and we came out with a championship.  There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of talent and I love racing with.”

Haws said he and his team, led by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief Lee McCall, will be celebrating the championship tonight.

“We’re probably just going to Buffalo Wild Wings and closing the place down or something,” Haws remarked.

Myatt Snider entered the race with the points lead but an 18th place qualifying effort proved to be his undoing.  With a less then desirable starting spot in the race, Snider’s championship unraveled quickly.  With the final two-thirds of the race running caution free, Snider was never able to make up the valuable ground he needed on Haws.

“I’m not exactly disappointed,” Snider explained.  “Obviously, this night could have gone better. I think, to sum up the entire season, you can’t really be disappointed because we’ve contended for wins in a good amount of races we’ve run. Sat on the pole once which I never sit on the pole. I’m terrible at qualifying.”

Snider said his struggles all came down to inexperience at the tough and tricky Hickory Motor Speedway bullring.

“It just comes down to basic inexperience at the track.  I’ve only ran here twice and qualified here three times.  We were taking a different car here for the second time and didn’t have much experience on it.  I think it ran good.  It definitely ran good towards the end.  It just didn’t pan out for me.”

Despite not coming away with a championship he felt he could win, Snider took it all in stride.

“This season itself has whooped me into shape in every aspect and I consider it a success even if I don’t win the championship,” Snider commented.  “Couldn’t be more proud of my guys. They’ve given me great equipment week in and week out.  I’ve probably thanked them two or three times now.  I am disappointed I didn’t win the championship but I can’t be unhappy with the season.”

Deac McCaskill qualified in the fifth position but was never really a factor in the race — finishing seventh, three spots ahead of Snider.

While the championship situation settled itself early, the race proved to be a barnburner as Clay Rogers and Josh Berry staged an epic duel in the mid-stages of the race.  Berry finally got around Rogers on lap 94 to take the lead and never looked back on his way to victory lane.

“We had a great car in that first race,” Berry said.  “Really just tried to bide our time the first half of the race.  Saw a couple of thos guys start falling back and felt like I could make the move while their tires started fading.  Built a gap on Tommy.  Car was really good.  I’m happy it stayed green like it did.  That’s what we needed  and that was the game we played.  This CARS Tour is not easy.  I’ve got a lot of laps here but there were a lot of good cars here this week and all season long.  It feels good to win those races.”

Berry, who won the track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2014, was one of eight drivers chasing a $40,000 bonus that he could’ve clinched by winning both the Late Model Stock Car race and the Super Late Model race.  He came up just short in that bid, finishing third in the Super Late Model race.

Two-time and defending Valley Star Credit Union 300 winner Tommy Lemons, Jr. finished second.  While Lemons is not normally satisfied with a second place finish, the result was acceptable this time.

“We had a really good car tonight,” Lemons explained.  “Fought all day yesterday with this thing.  Guys just wrkd their tails off, getting it to where we had a shot at it.  Just to sniff [Berry]’s bumper here is a pretty tough task.  To run second to him, you can’t ask much more than that.  He’s probably won the most race here the past three years.  Just needed a little bit more turn in the car.  All in all, it was a good finale for the CARS Tour.  We struggled the first half of the year.  Made up for it the past couple races.”

Lemons did not feel that a late race caution would have changed the outcome of the race.

“Josh was really tough,” Lemons commented.  “We needed to be a little bit better to run with him. We wouldn’t have finished where we did if we had a late race caution. Had some mechanical issues going on but, other than that, who knows? We’ll never know.”

Tyler Ankrum finished third while Clay Rogers, Brayton Haws, Shane Lee, Deac McCaskill, Michael Fose, Bradley McCaskill, and Myatt Snider rounded out the top ten.


1. #88B Josh Berry
2. #27 Tommy Lemons
3. #58 Tyler Ankrum
4. #54R Clay Rogers
5. #41 Brayton Haws
6. #00 Shane Lee
7. #08 Deac McCaskill
8. #54 Michael Fose
9. #18 Bradley McCaskill
10. #2 Myatt Snider
11. #12M Austin McDaniel
12. #28 Chris Hudspeth
13. #07 Spencer Davis
14. #33 David Polenz
15. #59 Roddey Sterling
16. #31 Thomas Beane
17. #7 Justin Crider
18. #88 Chris Davis
19. #74 Ronald Hill
20. #88T Robert Tyler
21. #50 Jamey Caudill
22. #20 Justin Hobgood
23. #8 Jake Crum
24. #42 Craig Stallard
25. #07C Tyler Church
26. #51 Christopher Bell