There’s no understating it.
The CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car championship race on Saturday night has the potential to go down as one of the all-time great events in short track racing history.
Let’s start with the basics.
Myatt Snider enters the Liberty University 300 presented by Southern National Motorsports Park with a three-point lead over both Brayton Haws and Deac McCaskill. Factor in bonus points for victories and poles over the season and Snider will actually lead Haws by one point and McCaskill by two points once the field takes the green flag.
That’s under NASCAR style one point per position rules as well.
In short, all three championship contenders believe that winning the event will be the key to winning the championship — especially given the bonus points for winning the race, leading laps and earning the pole. To become the champion, McCaskill says one of the three contenders will have to have a perfect night.
“I feel like, basically, you have to win,” McCaskill said. “I feel like I’m going to have to keep them from leading laps and earning bonus points. I feel like this is going to come down to who outruns who.
“All three of us will be fast. They’ve put a lot of work into it, just like I know I’ve put a lot into it. This is going to be an awesome race. I’m excited to get it on.”
Haws won the first stop of the year at Hickory back in May — outdueling Austin McDaniel in the finish of the year. He led 90 of the 125 laps from the pole and that gives him confidence that he should be able to repeat his way into winning the first-ever series championship.
“They’re right when they say this is really a must-win,” Haws said. “But all I have to do is race like I did the last time we came to Hickory and it falls into my hands. I have the most laps and experience around Hickory (his home track) and it’s going to be hard to take the win and championship away from me and my team.”
McCaskill acknowledges that too.
“I haven’t made many starts at Hickory and that advantage belongs to Brayton,” he said. “We struggled there in May (finished 13th) and went back there to test. We learned a lot and got our car where it needed to be.
“I feel like all three of us are going to be running near the front all day. With that said, it’s just a normal week for me. I want to win the pole, lead the most laps and win the race. That’s what I want to do every time we unload.”
And then there’s Snider, the championship leader himself, who is defined by his confidence. Despite a winless season, he’s been the most consistent driver on the tour, posting top-10s in all nine races, and top-5s in five of them.
Snider has been the one driver on the tour most willing to talk about the championship from the start of the season, reeling in his aggressive style in favor of one more fitting of a tour contender.
“I’ve been preparing for it since the start of the season,” Snider said. “I think we have what it takes. Our team has been driving really well lately. I like that. Seems to be going well for us. We’ve never had a better shot than we do now. Concord went really well. We have been fast as of late. Now is a better time than ever. With the speed we’ve had, I think things are going to bode really well for us.
“I’m going to get all the fans all hyped up and everything to make it an energetic environment. That will help out everything. Overall, I’m really confident about this weekend.”
All three also view the CARS Tour as the most-elite program in Late Model Stock Car racing, and thus, winning the championship is a statement about their place in the discipline. McCaskill has won a NASCAR Virginia state championship, but this is the first time that both Snider and Haws have chased a title.
It’s extremely important to all three of them, and they’ve prepared accordingly.
“I’ve been racing for years, won track championships and battled for the national championship,” McCaskill said. “To be able to race with these guys and contend on a tour, speaks a lot about everyone that’s helped us this year. I want to win this for my dad, and for my mom, and it would mean a great deal.”
“But really, any championship is an accomplishment,” Haws said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the 10th. You want to be the best and when you factor in the competition we have in this series, it’s been a thrill to have this much speed.”
And ditto, Snider.
“You always want to be the first person to achieve something,” Snider said. “Winning will go a long way towards us winning this championship. But the bigger picture stuff is a good reminder to just take what the car gives us and for me to limit mistakes.”
Because, whoever makes the fewest mistakes between McCaskill, Haws and Snider will win this championship.
The event will be broadcast on a PPV basis by RacefeedX with the standard definition broadcast available for $18.