The CARS Late Model Stock Tour took a trip to the Appalachians for their stop in Fairlawn, Virginia. Motor Mile Speedway played host to another riveting stop on the CARS Tour circuit. The unique view of the dragstrip while the race was going on is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Local driver Kyle Dudley from Roanoke, Virginia, set the pole in a one-off entry with 16.26 seconds. CARS Tour regular and fan favorite at Motor Mile, Mike Looney qualified 6th. Times were slower than usual due to the F55 tire compound implemented. The harder rubber, as opposed to the regular F45’s, made the overall grip difficult. The CARS Tour became forced to switch to the tire compound due to scarcity. The materials shortage has ravaged the supply at Hoosier Asphalt Oval Tire South, which is their main supplier.
The Late Model Stock feature of the Long Run Transportation 225, Presented by American Foods, started with its share of calamity. The initial start of the race did not go smoothly. The inside line from 11th on back checked up after crossing the start/finish line. Deac McCaskill and Justin Johnson were the first to make nose-to-tail contact.
The contact created a ripple effect that swept up the back half of the inside line. Cars scattered at the end of the front stretch as Brandon Pierce, Joe Valento, Mini Tyrell, Jonathan Findley, Chase Purdy, and Rusty Skewes were all involved in the lap zero melee. Chase Purdy escaped with minimal damage. Pierce was able to continue. All others involved went to the garage.
The field started the race once more with a much cleaner green flag lap. Great battling towards the front and mid-pack defined the first run. Kyle Dudley lost position to Bobby McCarty on lap two. Dudley fell back as Mike Looney and Justin Johnson were the big movers in the early stages.
Lap 31 was yet another stroke of bad luck for a Layne Riggs team that can not seem to catch a break in the last few weeks. While running in second place, Riggs had a throttle linkage break. He got out of the gas. Luckily for him, it did not stick to the floor and send his car into the wall. Mike Looney was directly behind him in third and had to check up. Riggs slipped to the bottom to get to pit lane, which caused Looney to lose a couple of positions. The race stayed under green as Riggs pulled in.
“We were running in second trying to hold off Looney, Riggs said. “I think we had a second or third place car. It just went off of the corner, I mashed the gas, and it just went all the way to the floor. If there’s one positive, at least didn’t stick, I would’ve gone head-onto into the wall. I’d rather it fall off than have it stick. Just glad our car was performing like we want it to.”
On lap 41 the 40-lap-consecutive-green rule kicked in. Yellow was displayed that tightened the field. Xfinity Series driver Josh Berry came to the pits to get adjustments from 5th place. Throughout the night, the JR Motorsports team had difficulty getting their cars to handle properly.
On the restart, Justin Johnson made his ascension from 11th starting spot to second place. On lap 41 Johnson and McCarty embarked on a back and forth type of grudge match for the lead. The two ran like dirt trackers sliding up in front of one another. For 15 laps the two drivers traded the lead. They made slight contact nose to bumper but never got each other out of shape. McCarty and Johnson jockeyed for position before McCarty finally had the edge on lap 61. With Looney hot on the heels of the two up front, they got lined up with the Catawba, Virginia native of Looney settling into third.
The yellow flag flew for a stalled Jake Crum machine on the backstretch. On the restart, Bobby McCarty got a decisive jump. He sailed it off of turn two and gained an advantage over the field. Justin Johnson established himself in second. The race settled into a rhythm. The event ran clean and green from lap 70 until the end of the race on lap 125. McCarty got by lap traffic and drove it off of turn four for the final time. McCarty took the checkered flag for the Long Run Transportation 225 Late Model Stock feature. McCarty had said in the prerace that the compound felt like ‘concrete blocks.’ With the trophy in hand, Race22 caught up with him as he celebrated in victory lane.
“You know I complained about F50s at South Boston and now we won on F55s,” The Kernersville, NC native said. “I’m never going to hear the end of it, but we struggled with this car yesterday. We were sitting at the hauler yesterday scratching our heads. We didn’t know what to do with it.” I just got to thank Nelson Motorsports. We kept digging and finding speed. We never changed tires and kept moving up the leaderboard. I just got to thank Solid Rock Carriers and R&S Racecars. This thing seemed to get better after about 15 to 20 laps. It was phenomenal.”
Justin Johnson brought his car home in second place after climbing 10 positions from qualifying. He wound up in the runner-up spot with a strong run. The Roxboro, North Carolina driver had come up just short of scoring his third win of 2021.
“I’m disappointed we came home second,” Johnson said. “But we had a good run. Just got to thank GSX Wraps, R&S race cars, and all the people that help us at the shop for putting this car together.”
Mike Looney, the local driver just forty minutes from home, came in third place at his favorite 4/10th mile track on the mountain.
“It wasn’t what we were looking for,” Looney said. “We run a lot of races here and hold ourselves to a pretty high standard. These Solid Rock Carriers Cars Tour guys are pros. They are the best Late model drivers in the country in my opinion. Hats off to Bobby and those guys, they got their car working well on the bottom. We pushed Justin pretty hard. I just got to thank God for people like Billy Martin and Teresa. All my sponsors Harrisons Workwear, A1 Heating and Cooling, Velocita. Just have to thank the Lord for a safe night.”
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour finished their trip to the 4/10ths of a mile oval in the Virginia highlands with some highs and lows for competitors. The picturesque hillsides and the active dragstrip behind the track were one heck of a spectacle between races and green flag runs. The attention will shift to Tri-County Speedway for the race that will memorialize our fallen heroes on September 11th.
Cover photo by Bridger Swinimer.
- 22 Bobby McCarty
- 44 Justin Johnson
- 87va Mike Looney
- 4h Kaden Honeycut
- 91 Jonathan Shafer
- 8 Josh Berry
- 95 Sam Yarbrough
- 4D kyle Dudley
- 88 Conner Jones
- 97 Daniel Silvestri -1
- 14 Jared Fryar -1
- 2 Brandon Pierce -1
- 21 Chase Purdy -18
- 08 Deac McCaskill -26
- 54 Jake Crum -46
- 24 Mike Darne Out
- 99 Layne Riggs Out
- 4F Jonathan Findley Out
- 8s Rusty Skewes Out
- 17 Joe Valento Out
- 81 Mini Tyrell Out