The CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour will be without two of its familiar faces as it heads up to Langley Speedway on Saturday evening for the inaugural Who’s Your Driver 125.
Bradley McCaskill and Craig Moore, who had both signed on to participate in all 11 races on the CARS LMSC Tour calendar, will not make the long trip up to Hampton, Virginia this weekend, as Camden Gullie and Jonathan Findley will replace them in the #07 and #1, respectively.
McCaskill, who also skipped the Heritage Truck Centers 250 at Motor Mile Speedway on May 18, believes that he could have been a factor for the CARS LMSC Tour title all season, but he stated that he could not pass up an opportunity to pursue his first career Whelen All-American Series North Carolina State Championship.
“We re-evaluated everything after the first few races of the season,” McCaskill said. “We looked at our finishes at Hickory, as well as our win over at Southern National, and we started to think that we could make a run at the state title. It was a tough decision to make, but we just decided to head in this direction.”
After securing five Top 10 finishes during the 2018 CARS LMSC Tour season, McCaskill picked up where he left off by completing every single lap through the first four races of 2019 and accumulate three Top 10 finishes, which included a pole at Hickory.
A seventh-place finish in the Race at Ace 125 put McCaskill fourth in the championship standings, where he sat 27 points behind points leader and 2017 CARS LMSC Tour champion Josh Berry.
Although McCaskill was up to the challenge of battling Berry and the rest of his competition all the way to South Boston Speedway, his focus for the rest of the year will be on Late Model racing exclusively in the state of North Carolina, where he will compete at tracks such as Hickory, Southern National Motorsports Park and Bowman-Gray Stadium.
McCaskill’s withdrawal from the CARS LMSC Tour left a temporary opening within the series’ Touring 12 program, but it was quickly filled by Durham, North Carolina native Camden Gullie, whose team will use McCaskill’s owner points for the remainder of the season.
“We needed someone to use the #07,” McCaskill said. “Camden was a good candidate, as he’s committed to run the full season. We asked him to run our number so that we could fulfill our end of the bargain with the CARS Tour,”
McCaskill and CARS Tour competition director Chris Ragle had a long discussion over the McCaskill’s decision to commit to Late Model racing in North Carolina halfway through the year, but even though Ragle was disappointed that McCaskill was leaving the tour, he understood the reasoning behind the change and wishes him the best as he attempts to secure a North Carolina state title.
Ragle added that the CARS Tour was prepared for situations like McCaskill’s and Moore’s, as the series introduced a new rule for the 2019 season that limited a specific car number in the Touring 12 to just two drivers, which was instituted after one of the participants in Justin Johnson elected to retire from Late Model racing early in 2018.
“The #44 [Johnson] was owned by Robert Tyler,” Ragle said. “After Johnson left, he went around and let five to six different teams use that number during the season, and we felt like he didn’t really fulfill his obligations to the series. We decided to crack down on that during the offseason, so going forward, only two drivers in the program can use the same number, otherwise, there will be repercussions.”
Ragle has also had conversations with Moore, who is a part of the Touring 12 program like McCaskill and will also not be making the trip to Langley on Saturday. Moore’s 2019 season has been dominated by numerous on-track issues, as he currently sits 17th in the point standings after failing to finish the first three races of the season.
Moore’s absence from the CARS LMSC Tour will not be as long-term as McCaskill’s, as he intends to immediately rejoin the series at Dominion Raceway on June 22 and is looking forward to showcasing his new Late Model.
“I’ve got a brand new car from A&E Chassis, but I haven’t finished it yet,” Moore said. “The other car I have is about five years old, and we ended up winning at South Boston with it, but I’m at the point where I want to run this new car. I took the old car and cut it up, so nothing’s ready at the moment. I just ran out of time.”
Moore has also been occupied with aiding the Late Model program of Daniel Moss, who currently leads the Limited Sportsman division at South Boston by six points over Danny Willis Jr.
Moore stated that all of the hard work he puts in to help his own team and Moss’ team, combined with losing a full-season sponsor shortly after the opening race at Southern National has made 2019 difficult at times, but he added that he’s going to do everything he can to add another CARS LMSC Tour victory to his resume before the year concludes.
Moore will have Jonathan Findley and his team using his owner points during the weekend as they look to rebound from an inconsistent start to their first season in the CARS Tour. Findley was one of the first drivers Moore contacted after he realized that he would be unable to race at Langley and is glad that Findley’s operation will receive some help from the Touring 12 program.
“Jonathan was actually eligible for a couple of other things by running several races in a row, but now he loses those credits,” Moore said. “With that being said, he is going to get help through the Touring 12 discounts, and I’m very thankful that he was able to help us. Everyone over there has been very nice and friendly to us all year, and he didn’t hesitate at the chance when I called and asked him about this weekend.”
While Moore will be back with the series in two weeks, McCaskill will leave the #07 to Gullie and his team as the CARS Tour enters the second half of the season, but he has not ruled out the possibility of competing for a championship in the series in 2020.
“More than likely, I think we’ll start back off with the series next year,” McCaskill said. “The CARS Tour a great series, there’s no questioning that, but we’re going for a state title right now, so I don’t think I’ll be back this year.
Over two dozen drivers are expected to take the green flag for the Who’s Your Driver 125 at Langley on Saturday night, with the green flag expected to drop following the conclusion of the Bandolero, Legends and Super Street features.
Cover photo by Jaden Austin.