Christopher Bell dominated at Hickory Motor Speedway, claiming his third Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour victory of 2015 in the Liberty University 300, while Cole Timm clinched the inaugural series championship with a seventh place finish.

“It’s pretty cool,” Bell said after the victory. “I’m lucky to be here at Kyle Busch Motorsports. It’s awesome to see how hard these guys work and how much effort they put into this.”

For Timm, it was a monumental moment for the Mooresville, North Carolina native, who will turn 17 years old precisely one week after tonight’s race.

“It feels amazing, just to say what we did,” said Timm. “Not only this race, but all year long. It’s just awesome, some of the teams we beat all year long. It’s just awesome.”

Brandon Setzer started on the pole for the 150-lap feature after setting Hickory’s track record in qualifying with a time of 14.571 seconds, but led for 11 laps before Bell assumed the top spot. Bell led the rest of the way, despite several challenges throughout the evening.

The greatest threat came at the end of the race, thanks to a couple of highly-motivated challengers. Kyle Grissom needed a victory to help close the gap between himself and Timm in the CARS Super Late Model Tour points standings, while Josh Berry fought from a 13th-place effort in qualifying to the top three. After winning the Late Model Stock Car feature of the Liberty University 300, Berry was in line for a $40,000 “Double Duty Dare” bonus if he could win the Super Late Model race.

A restart following an accident on lap 140 provided a last chance for Grissom and Berry to threaten Bell, but the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver held off the final challenge to secure the win.

“My car fired off real good,” Grissom said. “I was able to hang with Bell for a lap or two, but he was able to stretch out.”

“I tried to make a little run at him in three to loosen him up,” Grissom added. “But when I did, I kind of lost my front end. There wasn’t much else outside of driving dirty I could have done, and I didn’t want to do that.”

“When I saw them two racing like hell, I thought, man, it could happen,” said Josh Berry on the dramatic finish. “[Bell] was tough and [Grissom] was good too. He could fire off really good on the restarts and the 51 was just the best car. It was going to take them two roughing each other up or something. We were a third place car, kept it in one piece and had a shot at the end. That’s what I came here to do.​”

While Grissom was near the front all night, Timm rarely cracked the top five. Timm entered the race with a nine-point advantage in the series standings, but at one point the points lead was in serious jeopardy as Timm battled to stay in the top ten while Grissom ran second.

“They didn’t notify me [about the points] until around 50 to go,” Timm said his team’s communications regarding the championship battle. “That was when we started trying to figure out what we needed to do, all the cars we needed to pass.”

For Grissom, it was another strong run in a season that included a second-place finish in the CARS Super Late Model Tour points race, as well as a win and a top-five points finish in the Southern Super Series.

“Honestly, going into the race, we were nine or something points back,” said Grissom. “That’s a big deal, since you only get one point per position. Thinking about the championship really wasn’t a big thing for me. I just really wanted to win the race.”

The first half of the race featured a flurry of cautions, which removed roughly half the field. Setzer’s shot at a third CARS Tour win was dashed after contact with William Byron sent him into the outside wall on lap 43. Steve Wallace was also collected in that incident.

15 laps prior, a multi-car incident brought out a lengthy red flag after Dominique Van Wieringen spun in front of the field in turn three. Spencer Davis, AJ Frank, and Bradley McCaskill did not return from the incident, while several other contenders such as Preston Peltier and Clay Rogers suffered significant damage.’s Andy Marquis and Matt Weaver contributed to this report.


  1. #51 Christopher Bell
  2. #31 Kyle Grissom
  3. #5 Josh Berry
  4. #9 William Byron
  5. #77 Zane Smith
  6. #15 Christian Eckes
  7. #57 Cole Timm
  8. #74 Preston Peltier
  9. #17 Quin Houff
  10. #16 Lucas Jones
  11. #19 Riley Herbst
  12. #48 Jeff Batten
  13. #2 Clay Rogers
  14. #67 Clay Jones
  15. #83S Dale Shaw
  16. #58 Tyler Ankrum
  17. #5D Dominique Van Wieringen
  18. #45 Joey Mucciacciaro
  19. #52 Kaz Grala
  20. #6 Brandon Setzer
  21. #66 Steve Wallace
  22. #00 Lucas Ransone
  23. #8 Jake Crum
  24. #29 Spencer Davis
  25. #75 A.J. Frank
  26. #4 Bradley McCaskill
  27. #54 Matt Craig
  28. #24D Mason Diaz
  29. #7 Tyler Church