Bobby McCarty celebrates in victory lane after dominating the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway on Saturday evening (Photo: Brandon White)

Not a single driver in the 24-car LMSC field in the Rodney Cook Classic could catch Bobby McCarty, who overcame some recent struggles at Ace Speedway to dominate the 140-lap feature and take home the checkered flag on Saturday night.

Although McCarty knew Nelson Motorsports would provide a great car for him, he anticipated the path to victory lane to be a tough one, but he was thrilled to encounter no issues and join an exclusive list of drivers who have won the Rodney Cook Classic.

“We’ve led so many laps here, but haven’t been able to pull the deal off,” McCarty said. “It’s been very frustrating, but to finally pull it off against Layne [Riggs], Ryan Millington and my teammate Sammy [Smith] is awesome because they are all really good here.”

McCarty started off his afternoon the way he wanted to by laying down a blistering time of 15.556 to claim the pole for the feature, which narrowly edged out the second lap put up by the defending race-winner in Riggs.

Once the green flag dropped, McCarty ran at his own pace and kept Riggs in his rearview mirror, all while facing several challenges from Smith, who kept taking the outside lane on several early restarts.

McCarty’s only mistake of the evening came on Lap 42 when he missed a shift on a restart, enabling Smith to take the lead. McCarty ran down and passed Smith three laps later, before a bump from Riggs in Turn 3 relegated him back to third once again.

McCarty proceeded to control the race up until a competition caution at Lap 100, which came as a relief for McCarty, who felt that his car was too snug for his liking and asked his crew to make some minor adjustments during the ensuing ten-minute break.

With neither him nor Riggs conserving any equipment for the final 40 laps, McCarty was forced to hold off his fellow Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour on two separate restarts. Long-run speed gave McCarty the upper hand and he was able to pull away for the victory in the Rodney Cook Classic.

“It took my car about 15 laps to get going on that last restart,” McCarty said. “I was really worried because Layne seemed to fire off a little better, but once I noticed we were keeping even, I knew I had to keep hitting my marks and not give him an opportunity,”

McCarty came close to winning the Rodney Cook Classic in 2019, but he finished behind the wall in 15th after getting involved in two late-race accidents with Millington and Dustin Rumley.

McCarty attempted to shake off that disappointment in the Race at Ace 125, where he led a race-high 118 laps until he was wrecked while leading by the wounded car of Josh Berry, who was frustrated after colliding with McCarty earlier in the evening.

While McCarty entered the Rodney Cook Classic confident about his chances to win, he admitted that he was initially unsure of how the race would turn out once he began making laps in the car, and frequently vented his frustration towards his crew.

Despite the early struggles, McCarty thanked Nelson Motorsports for all of their hard work in getting his #22 Toyota right for the 140-lap feature, adding that Saturday’s win was an ideal ending to what has been a disappointing season for the team.

“I didn’t want to set the pace and lead the race, but the guys wanted me to,” McCarty said. “With Late Model racing, track position is very important, and I’m glad that we did what we did. Tonight was a hell of an effort because we’ve struggled this year. This hasn’t been the Nelson Motorsports you normally see, but to finish the season off like this is incredible.”

The Rodney Cook Classic was McCarty’s final race of 2020, but he will return to Nelson Motorsports in 2021 with the hopes of claiming his third CARS LMSC Tour title along with victories in major events like the Old North State Nationals and ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

Dillon Harville ended up taking home the checkered flag in the 50-lap Limited Late Model feature, while Brandon Ward and Todd Massey scored victories in the Pro Modz and Ace Modified features, respectively.

2020 Rodney Cook Classic Results:

  1. 22m Bobby McCarty
  2. 99 Layne Riggs
  3. 15m Ryan Millington
  4. 12s Sammy Smith
  5. 44j Justin Johnson
  6. 95 Jacob Heafner
  7. 19s Blake Stallings
  8. 57 Justin Carroll
  9. 1p Nolan Pope
  10. 88r Dustin Rumley
  11. 2r Braden Rogers
  12. 88m Connor Mosack
  13. 9 Trey Crews
  14. 2t Austin Thaxton
  15. 01 Camden Gullie
  16. 81 Zack Clifton
  17. 19c Jessica Cann -3
  18. 7 Dylan Ward OUT
  19. 50 Boo Boo Dalton OUT
  20. 77 Trevor Ward OUT
  21. 16 R.D. Smith OUT
  22. 4d Kyle Dudley OUT
  23. 18 Jason York OUT
  24. 15b Mike Bledsole OUT