Bobby McCarty found himself in a great position to pick up a solid Top 5 finish and stay within range of Josh Berry for the lead in the CARS LMSC Tour standings in the Solid Rock Carriers Crystal Coast 125 on Saturday, as he lined up on the inside of the second row with only 16 laps remaining.
McCarty’s solid run came to an abrupt end on the ensuing restart, as an aggressive block from Deac McCaskill caused him to lose control of his car in front of the rest of the field, which led to an accident that took out over a half-dozen cars.
McCarty was not pleased with the events that transpired during that restart with McCaskill, and affirmed that he plans to alter his driving style to be more aggressive with the rest of his competition going forward.
“He just came all the way down on me,” McCarty said. “I don’t know what he was thinking, but it was just some bullcrap. I’m not playing these games no more. I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I know what I’m doing, and I’m done playing the nice guy. If I have a fifth place car, and I have a shot to take everyone out to win it, that’s what I’m going to do.”
After being one of the fastest cars in an abbreviated Late Model practice session earlier in the afternoon, McCarty was unable to duplicate that speed in qualifying, as his time of 16.356 put him 11th on the starting grid.
McCarty was determined to challenge drivers such as Josh Berry and Layne Riggs for the victory, and began to methodically work his way up to the front of the field during the first half of the race, where he eventually settled inside the Top 5 by Lap 65.
McCarty continued his quest to the front of the field by climbing into the second position behind Berry, who had wrestled the lead away from polesitter Chad McCumbee on a restart, but he found himself unable to do anything with his rival in the points, which forced him to hold off McCaskill for second.
McCarty would eventually lose that position to McCaskill and drop to the third, but a debris caution with 16 laps remaining gave what McCarty thought was an opportunity to make a run at the front row and potentially leave Swansboro with a victory.
“I didn’t feel like we had a third place car,” McCarty said. “We had to be smart and play the restarts by staying on the inside so we could make our way up through there and pick off two at a time. We were driving a smart race, and it all got taken away.”
On the ensuing restart, McCarty attempted to go low on a defending McCaskill in Turn 3, but made slight contact with the inside wall, which caused him to move up the track and make contact with Riggs, who was sent spinning in Turn 4 while McCarty, Brandon Pierce, Justin T. Carroll and many more piled up along the outside retaining wall.
McCaskill stated that he was trying to avoid Riggs in the lane above him and McCarty going into the turn, but he felt that he was forced into a situation where he could not avoid contact one way or the other, and took responsibility for the accident.
“My initial reaction was that I didn’t want to get turned into the wall,” McCaskill said. “I came off a lane and Bobby was there. Unless I see something different on the replay, I’m sorry for what happened. I hate tearing stuff up, and I can’t really enjoy this finish here.”
While McCaskill brought his Late Model home in the second position, McCarty would be relegated to a 12th place finish, which is expected to put him second in the standings behind Berry, who went on to win the race.
McCarty and his crew plan to keep working hard on his #22 Autos by Nelson/Solid Rock Carriers Toyota to ensure that it can win each of the remaining three races on the CARS LMSC Tour schedule, but he admitted that he is unsure if he can win the championship following his disappointing run at Carteret County.
“I was racing for a championship, and he just took every bit of that from me,” McCarty said. “We are done in the points. This literally handed it to Josh. It’s frustrating because these guys worked really hard all weekend trying to get it right, and it was all taken away by somebody that I respected a lot up until this point.”
McCarty and his team will get a lengthy break from the CARS LMSC Tour before their next race in the Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway, but they will hope to shake the misfortunes of Carteret County off when they travel to Langley Speedway for the Hampton Heat 200 on Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Andy Marquis and Doc Love contributed to this article.