The 2020 Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour season was a successful one for Lee Faulk Racing and Development, as both of their full-time drivers in Jonathan Findley and Nolan Pope each found victory lane and earned Top 10 finishes in the points standings.
Findley, who ended up finishing seventh in points, was thrilled that he was able to be competitive in his first season with Faulk, but expressed slight disappointment that he was unable to bring home more solid finishes with the speed his #4 Chevrolet possessed every race.
“It’s been a while since I got a win,” Findley said. “Compared to the first year, everything went great, and I never thought I would have gotten a win or contested for more wins as the season went on, but what held us back more than anything was bad luck. You have to put together ten perfect races in the CARS Tour and that just didn’t happen for us.”
After scoring one Top 5 finish with his family-owned operation in 2019, Findley worked closely with Tonya McCallister, who is one of Faulk’s partners through her company MPM Marketing, to put together a deal with that would see Findley drive one of the team’s Late Models for the full 2020 CARS LMSC Tour season.
Joining Findley on the grid was Pope, who was fresh off a full-time campaign in the CARS SLM Tour that saw him net one Top 5 finish in the season finale at South Boston Speedway and was eager to move over to the LMSC Tour after watching his brother Brody register a third and eighth with Faulk.at Hickory Motor Speedway.
With the CARS LMSC Tour featuring talented full-time competitors like Layne Riggs, Corey Heim and eventual champion Jared Fryar, Pope knew it would be a challenge for him and Findley to regularly contend for victories, but he was determined to do everything possible to get the most out of his #1 J&P Concrete Pumping Chevrolet.
“I wanted to go win some races,” Pope said. “We definitely thought we could win plenty of local races, but as far as the CARS Tour goes, I just wanted to run inside the Top 7, but I ended up exceeding my own expectations.”
While Findley was the first Faulk driver to finish inside the Top 10 with an eighth place run at Southern National Motorsports Park, Pope came out strong following the COVID-19 pandemic break by tallying two consecutive Top 5s at Ace Speedway and Hickory.
Findley would be the first of the duo to break through for a victory at Dominion Raceway after he started 13th, led 49 laps and survived an event marred by several tire issues to cross the finish line first in front of his loved ones and an exuberant home crowd.
“Dominion was on another level for me,” Findley said. “I’ve raced there so much more than any other CARS Tour driver, so it was really special to have all my family and friends there to watch that race. There are no words to describe how great that day was.”
Following his victory at Dominion, Findley put together two more solid performances at Franklin County Speedway and Langley Speedway before a multi-car accident in the closing laps at Carteret County Speedway ended his streak of consistency.
After finishing 17th due to a crash at Dominion, Pope responded with three consecutive Top 10 finishes, but he was unable to put himself in a position to secure that elusive first CARS LMSC Tour win until the series made its inaugural visit to Florence Motor Speedway on Oct. 3.
Pope dropped to the rear of the field to save his equipment after qualifying in the fifth position, which enabled him to charge to the front of the pack before finding himself on the back bumper of race leader Timothy Peters, who he passed coming off Turn 4 on the final lap to win the race.
Pope was initially oblivious to his position in the running order until his crew started celebrating over the radio, but he knew that Florence presented an ideal opportunity for him to join Findley as winner during the 2020 CARS LMSC Tour season having previously utilized tire conservation on Hickory’s abrasive surface.
“Florence is a really cool race track,” Pope said. “When we showed up to test that Thursday, I knew we had a shot to run good. It was a race track I liked, and I got around it pretty good. The car was great all weekend, and everything worked out for us at the end.”
Pope and Findley concluded their respective CARS LMSC Tour seasons in the Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, with Findley coming home in the Top 5 while Pope ended up in the seventh position after fading late in the race.
Findley thought that he could have won the Old North State Nationals had the pit strategy worked out in his favor, but he was proud of everything that him and Pope accomplished with Faulk during an eventful CARS LMSC Tour season that saw them hold their own with series veterans, local regulars and former champions across a variety of different tracks.
“I knew we would be in contention to go for wins, but personally, I never thought I would be able to put it all together,” Findley said. “People don’t realize that winning in the CARS LMSC Tour is one of the hardest things to do throughout Late Model racing. It’s hard to run up front even if you’re a regular competing at your home track that weekend.”
Findley and Pope are unsure of how their 2021 plans will shape up, but both of them are hoping to return to the CARS LMSC Tour for another full-time campaign.