Justin Johnson (08), Mini Tyrrell (81) and Jonathan Findley (4) all crash at the start-finish line during the closing stages of Saturday's Solid Rock Carriers 125 at Carteret County Speedway. (Photo: Eric Creel)

Saturday’s Solid Rock Carriers 125 at Carteret County Speedway was marred by numerous on-track accidents and lengthy track repairs that extended the event’s run time to nearly four hours before being called due to a time limit.

The events that transpired on track left numerous drivers furious with one another, but Carteret County owner and promoter Bob Lowery believed that Saturday’s race was memorable for more positive reasons than negative.

“It was a little bit chaotic, but if you look at the big picture, it was a hard fought race from beginning to end,” Lowery said. “There’s a lot of passion out here and these boys went at it that way. It’s unfortunate that a lot of cars got torn up, and I feel bad for those drivers whose cars were torn up.”

The 125-lap feature for the Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour began in an orderly fashion with polesitter Layne Riggs jumping out in front of Brandon Pierce, all while Mini Tyrrell followed closely behind waiting to make a move.

A caution on Lap 29 foreshadowed the events that would soon transpire over a long, protracted evening, as a portion of the track coming loose in Turn 3 forced Carteret County track officials to work quickly and diligently on repairing the surface, which they accomplished after 30 minutes.

Cautions began accumulating after the delay before the first big accident of the night occurred when Pierce missed a shift on a Lap 43 restart, which caused damage to several cars and eliminated drivers like Camden Gullie and Matt Cox from the race.

The race failed to find rhythm with two more accidents involving Bobby McCarty and Brandon Clements grinding the pace to a halt, but another caution for track repairs on Lap 61 forced the remaining cars to stop on the backstretch for nearly an hour while track crews were dispatched to fix the problem again.

While Lowery admitted that the situation with the track surface was unfortunate, he credited everyone for their hard work in fixing Turn 3 and intends to start more thorough repairs on the trouble spot Monday morning.

“There’s a whole lot of water down here in our area, which gets up underneath the track and causes it to do that,” Lowery said. “You had some pieces that were loose and tonight was the most cars we’ve seen all year. There was a whole lot of pressure on the track and it gave way.”

Despite the repairs, the CARS LMSC Tour was left with less than one hour before the 11:00 p.m. curfew once the red flag was rescinded, which meant that drivers would have to start getting aggressive in order to gain critical track position on the one-groove track.

Aggression led to another major accident on the frontstretch that started when Pierce tried to move Tyrrell out of the way for second. Tyrrell ended up losing control of his car and nearly ten other drivers piled into the melee, reducing the field from 18 to nine cars.

Even with only a handful of competitive cars remaining, the attrition continued with one more crash that knocked out Nolan Pope and Stacy Puryear. Pope blamed Ronald Hill for the accident and confronted him and his crew on two different occasions, all while his teammate Jonathan Findley voiced his frustration at Pierce after getting knocked out in the Lap 62 big one.

Findley was not the only driver that was furious with Pierce, who ended up having to explain himself to Tyrrell in a conversation that turned heated after the latter saw a potential second-place run come to an end shortly before the halfway point.

One last caution for more track repairs in Turn 3 brought the chaotic Solid Rock Carriers 125 to an unceremonious end on Lap 90, with Riggs taking home the checkered flag in front of Corey Heim and Jared Fryar in a race that was slowed by 11 cautions and only had an average speed of 11.882.

While Lowery wanted to see the Solid Rock Carriers 125 go to its full distance, he said that the circumstances facing Carteret County on Saturday prevented them from accomplishing that goal and considers himself fortunate that CARS LMSC Tour was even able to visit the facility after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to postpone their planned July visit.

“This was sort of a gentleman’s curfew years ago, but it’s been put into writing now,” Lowery said. “We tried to abide by that because we live in this community and we want to be good to our next door neighbors, but we’re looking forward to having the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour next year.”

Carteret County will be back in action next weekend with its weekly events, where drivers like Louis White, Tyler Horne and others will do battle in the track’s Late Model division.