The 2020 Old North State Nationals was far from Jared Fryar’s best in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour, but his 13th place finish was enough for him to become the first drivers to win championships in both the LMSC and SLM divisions.
Consistency was the key component to Fryar’s championship campaign in 2020, as he finished the season with five Top 5s and a victory, which came in a duel with Mike Looney at Franklin County Speedway.
“Josh [Berry] gave me some words of wisdom,” Fryar said. “He told me he ran like crap in the last race when he won it in 2017, but it’s awesome to have so many good runs all year long and a win, which is all I ask for. The competition is so tough in the CARS Tour, so it feels good to finally get a championship in a Late Model Stock.”
Fryar was confident in his chances about battling Berry for the $30,000 paycheck on Sunday evening, but he said that his car did not agree with some adjustments that his crew made following the heat races on Saturday.
Fryar and his crew kept trying to diagnose the issues with his #14 Sterling Building Group Ford once the green flag dropped for the Old North State Nationals, but Fryar ended up spending most of the event’s opening half barely hanging on to a Top 10 running position.
With Layne Riggs collecting a bonus point for leading laps, Fryar knew how important track position would be to maintaining a 15-point advantage over him and Corey Heim, but he believed that his crew finally got the car right after they put tires on it during a Lap 102 caution.
Fryar used the fresh rubber to work his way through slower traffic up to the ninth position before weather brought another yellow flag out with 52 laps to go. Fryar elected to stay out on track with Riggs and a handful of others once the race got back going, meaning that he would have to fight to keep his points lead.
The final green flag run of the evening saw Fryar struggle to corral his Late Model as drivers like Mike Looney, Connor Mosack and more passed him, all while hoping that his quest for a CARS LMSC Tour title was not fading away with each lost position.
“It just went away there at the end,” Fryar said about his car. “We could just never get through Turn 1 like we needed to. I don’t know if we made the wrong changes or if there was just something wrong with the car. We’ll celebrate and go back to the shop and look at the car so it’s ready for next year.”
With Riggs holding his own in third, Fryar’s fortunes turned when Timothy Peters retired from the Old North State Nationals with only six laps remaining, which moved Fryar into the 13th position and gave him the CARS LMSC Tour championship by just one point.
Riggs, who spent a good portion of the closing stages battling Heim for second, did everything he needed to do in order to have an opportunity to win both the race and the championship, but he said that consistency ultimately decided which driver celebrated on the frontstretch as a CARS LMSC Tour champion.
“We had a good race,” Riggs said. “We got off on strategy when we changed tires early, and the fresh rubber that Josh [Berry] and Corey [Heim] at the end prevailed for them. I enjoyed racing with Corey, but we came up short. Congrats to Jared on being super consistent all year, but without those DNFs at Hickory and Florence, I think we would have had a good shot at it.”
Fryar was unaware of the actual points situation until he received confirmation from CARS Tour officials after the race, as he was focused on nursing his struggling car to the checkered flag while simultaneously respecting everyone out on track.
“I knew it was close,” Fryar said. “I was just trying to hold off all those guys behind me, but Josh was trying to lap me and I was trying to stay off of him. This wasn’t the prettiest way to win the championship, but my name is on the trophy at the end of the day.”
Fryar intends to defend his CARS LMSC Tour championship with Jimmy Mooring in 2021 and is eager to start working on his Late Model once he and his team are done celebrating their accomplishment.