Deac McCaskill’s first trip to Franklin County Speedway on Saturday evening was filled with both positives and negatives, but he managed to rebound from some of his early-race struggles to secure a sixth-place finish.
McCaskill was confident that he had a car more than capable of battling Jared Fryar and Mike Looney for the win in the AutosByNelson.com, but he said that falling two laps down from a blown tire prevented him from racing inside the Top 5 until the closing stages of the LMSC feature.
“We cut a right rear tire down as I started to lose some spots,” McCaskill said. “We started getting really free in and then after we had that first caution, I could tell something was wrong, so I had to stop under green and bring out another caution. I thought we only lost one lap, but they ended up scoring us two laps down.”
McCaskill arrived at Franklin County Speedway in the #19 R&S Race Cars Toyota as opposed to the familiar #08 Puryear Tank Lines Chevrolet, as he decided to temporarily suspend his own Late Model program after struggling to find consistency following a second place run in the CARS LMSC Tour season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park.
McCaskill was absent from the Radley Chevrolet 125 at Dominion Raceway and was originally not planning to compete in Saturday’s AutosByNelson.com 250 at Franklin County until he came to a last-minute, one-race agreement with Marcus Richmond and Steve Stallings to pilot the #19.
McCaskill showcased the speed of Richmond and Stallings’ equipment by posting Top 10 speeds in both LMSC practices and posting the third quickest time in qualifying, but a potential pole run for McCaskill was derailed after he overshot Turn 1 on his opening lap.
When the green flag dropped on the LMSC feature, McCaskill proved to have one of the strongest cars by maintaining a spot inside the Top 5, but he began to lose ground to the leaders after making slight contact with Fryar while trying to avoid the slower car of Chris Carroll.
Shortly after a restart on Lap 26, McCaskill was forced to bring his car to a stop on the backstretch after losing a tire, but he attributed that problem to the deterioration of Franklin County’s track surface and not the near miss between him, Fryar and Carroll.
“There was a gash in the tire, which I think came from where the track was coming apart,” McCaskill said. “We were Supermanning the curb a couple of times, but this is a fun, racy track. Other cars were falling off in the last 50 laps while our car just kept getting better and better. I just wish I could do this over again.”
The setback did not deter McCaskill or his R&S Race Cars crew, as McCaskill would be the recipient of two free passes on additional cautions, which gave him the opportunity he needed to make a charge towards the front of the field during the second half of the race.
McCaskill successfully drove past several contenders in the CARS LMSC Tour point standings such as Nolan Pope and Layne Riggs, but the lap count expired right as McCaskill was preparing to challenge Corey Heim for the fifth position.
Despite the bad luck he endured throughout the evening, McCaskill enjoyed driving around Franklin County for 125 laps on Saturday, adding that he was waiting for another late-race caution to make a run at Fryar and Looney and add another CARS LMSC Tour victory to his prestigious short track resume.
“After five or six laps, this car was unbelievable,” McCaskill said. “It was just so fast and there’s no doubt we would have been up there if we got another restart. Catching them and passing them are two different things, but I really wish it was a 150-lap race. It wasn’t our night, but we made the best of things.”
McCaskill is unsure of when he will be back behind the wheel of a Late Model this season, but he hopes to make the necessary improvements that will improve the efficiency of his program by the start of 2021.