Bradley McCaskill, pictured in victory lane at Southern National Motorsports Park after winning the 2019 track championship at Southern National Motorsports Park. (Andy Marquis photo)

Bradley McCaskill clinched both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina state championship and the Southern National Motorsports Park track championship with his victory in the second of two Late Model Stock Car races at Southern National on Saturday night.

While Thomas Beane was able to pick up the victory in the first race, temporarily extending his lead in the state championship standings, an invert and a pivotal restart changed the complexion of the race and the championship.  When the second race was said and done, McCaskill was in victory lane celebrating two championships.

“Really we didn’t have any goals at the start of this year,” McCaskill told Race22 in victory lane.  “We were going to go the CARS Tour route.  I think we were fourth in points when we decided to make a run for this state.  Just started hammering at it little by little and here we are.  This is monstrous for us.  People lose sight that we still are just a family team that works out of my parents’ backyard.  There are no big bells and whistles here.  We just put in the elbow grease and hard work.

“With Ronald [Renfrow], he really takes care of us and makes sure we have what we need to get this stuff done.”

Throughout much of the second race, Beane had run with McCaskill, doing what he needed to hold on to clinch the championship.  However, a restart on lap 22 of the 40-lap feature proved to be consequential for both McCaskill and Beane.

Renfrow, who is a teammate to McCaskill, was slow on the restart, which allowed McCaskill and a couple other cars to pass him.  Renfrow ultimately ended up falling in line just ahead of Beane.  He was able to stay ahead of Beane for five laps before Beane was able to get by.  But, at that point, McCaskill had already cruised to the second position.  Beane eventually raced his way up to fourth – but the effort proved meaningless in the end with McCaskill’s victory.

Beane was miffed about what he felt were shenanigans that decided the title.

“We ran good, I mean, he had people up there block for him and stuff,” Beane told Race22.  “It’s just one of those things.  We came to his house and beat him straight up and then they played that game.  If they would have inverted eight like they have every race this year, they wouldn’t have won the championship.  They inverted nine so he could get four extra points and that won it for him.”

“We were far superior to him.  This is only the second time this year he’s raced head to head against me and beat me.  He deserves it.  They spent a lot of money to get what they got.  We’re going to take it the way it is.  We really lost it.  He didn’t win it, we lost it.  We had to come down here and beat him and we should have.  We ran behind him the whole race, and then his car owner took the cone, let him in, and got me stuck back in the middle of the pack.  There were some people who were nice about him and some who weren’t.  It’s kind of strange that they were all parked near him.

“They spent a lot more money than we did and we really should have beat him.”

Ronald Renfrow told Race22 there were no shenanigans on his part, citing his performances throughout the season.

“I ran my race,” Renfrow said.  “I ran my race, listened to my spotter, started my restarts.  It’s kind of funny anybody would say that man because I’ve been a pinball machine, a pinball all year long.  Every time I run here, I always get the short end of the stick and it’s always my fault.  Tonight was all about taking instead of giving and we took it.”

Renfrow also addressed the restart which frustrated Beane and ultimately played a key role in the outcome of the state championship.

“When I went in the corner, I went in the corner hot,” Renfrow explained.  “When I washed up, I got on the brakes so I wouldn’t door the guy in front of me because, earlier in the night in the first race, I got pinned down off of him and Boo Boo was really upset.  I was on the white line and he pinned me down.  I knew I had to have a clean race because we had a good car.”

Track owner Michael Diaz said the track had inverted nine cars in a race earlier this summer but noted the inverted number, which must be eight or more per NASCAR rules, was decided by race director Charlie Hansen.

“I didn’t make that call, Charlie did,” Diaz said.  “I was busy doing other stuff.  I’m assuming it was made for maximum points for both of the drivers that were coming for state points.”

Hansen, responding to a request for comment from Race22, also defended the decision to invert 10 cars.

“We chose to invert 10 cars to give both competitors the opportunity to receive maximum points for the state championship without having to adjust the lineup,” Hansen said.

Bradley McCaskill and Ronald Renfrow, both veterans at Southern National, relished in the championship seemingly unaware or unconcerned with the frustrations from Beane and Dalton.  McCaskill is the younger cousin to four-time track champion Deac McCaskill and has, himself, raced off and on at Southern National since it was reopened in 2012 by current track owner Michael Diaz.

Saturday’s title was the younger McCaskill’s first Late Model Stock Car track championship.

“It means a lot, for it to be my home track, we’ve raced here for a number of years,” McCaskill commented.  “We had no intentions of racing here the full schedule.  I didn’t even run the first race here.  One opportunity opened and we just kind of followed the doors.”

Renfrow and McCaskill teamed up back in 2016, interestingly just one year after McCaskill denied Renfrow his first Late Model Stock victory on the last lap of a race at Southern National.  Since then, the two have enjoyed a success, but Saturday’s championship was a first.

“We put everything we had into this all year,” Renfrow remarked.  “We started out the CARS Tour and we decided to come back and regroup.  We set out to win the track championship at Southern National and run for the state, and we really weren’t a contender and brought it on.  We didn’t come on until the 1st of August.  They know his name is Bradley McCaskill.  That’s all that matters.”

McCaskill’s state championship triumph has not yet been confirmed by NASCAR.  The final championship standings will be released on Wednesday.

Fleming disqualified over license dispute

Track owner Michael Diaz also confirmed to Race22 that Alex Fleming was disqualified from the race.

Fleming stepped in the cockpit of the no. 44 car, driven in the first race by Will Roland.  After the race, Diaz told Fleming his finish would be disallowed because he did not have a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I license.

“He didn’t have a license,” Diaz explained.  “I made it clear in the driver’s meeting I didn’t want any shenanigans.  You’re here to race, you need to have a license.  If you don’t have a license, you’re not going to count and you’re not going to get paid.  I guess they made a decision.  Roland was originally running the car.  Will did purchase a normal pit passes so it’s not like he had partaken in the free passes, so, when I had to go down to make sure Will had his license, Alex didn’t have one.  Last time he came, since I do all the NASCAR paperwork, I knew he had only bought a temporary one.

“I asked if he had one and he said no.  Then when he came to the scales at the end of the race, I asked if he had his license, he said he didn’t.  I finished my duties and told him he was disqualified because he didn’t have a license.”

Fleming had finished inside the top-five in the second Late Model feature.