Craig Moore (7) tries to hold off Ryan Repko (71) during the Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday evening. (Photo: Eric Creel.)

Following a consecutive streak of lackluster races, Late Model veteran Craig Moore turned in his best performance of the 2019 CARS LMSC Tour season by leading a majority of the laps in the Throwback 276 before ultimately settling for a second-place finish at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Moore arrived at Hickory with a scheme that paid tribute to the car primarily used in the 1983 film Stroker Ace and played the role of the title character in the days leading up to the event, but even though he was disappointed with his second-place, he was thrilled that he was able to contend for the win the entire evening.

“I really wanted to get this thing into victory lane so I could say it was the fastest chicken in the South,” Moore said. “We got too free at the end of the race, but to run so good in a car that we put together in nine days and only a couple hours of testing is really great. I think we have a really good piece that we can race with from here on out.”

Moore initially struggled to find speed during the opening practice sessions on Saturday, but he and his crew worked vigilantly on the car before he hit the track for qualifying, where the Stroker Ace tribute car earned a starting position of fourth.

Moore managed to clear Mike Darne for third after five laps, and followed Repko as he passed Josh Berry for the lead only a few moments later. Moore was able to stay behind Repko and gradually put pressure on him before a competition caution came out on Lap 40.

Repko elected to take the inside line for the restart, which proved to be a costly mistake as Moore used the momentum on the high side to pass Repko and establish himself as the car to beat for the next 50 laps.

Unfortunately for Moore, his car began to fade as the laps wound down, enabling Repko to get several more shots at him before he passed Moore on Lap 110 and pulled away to pick up his first career CARS LMSC Tour victory.

Moore wished that circumstances had played out differently to the point where he could have had a better shot to pass Repko back, but he knew that Repko had the best car in the closing stages and that overtaking him would have been a monumental task.

“If those lapped cars hadn’t gotten in the way, I definitely could have run with him,” Moore said. “I would have had to move him and I don’t race like that. He probably would have won the race anyway.”

With Repko comfortably holding his lead, Moore found himself in a heated battle with Bobby McCarty during the last 10 laps, and barely nipped him for the second position at the start-finish line.

“He rubbed me a little bit, and he could have wrecked me, but he didn’t,” Moore said. “I really appreciated that. Him and I talked about it and he said that I couldn’t have raced anyone else like that.”

Moore’s second-place run was his best CARS LMSC Tour finish since his victory in the 2018 250 at South Boston Speedway, and is optimistic that he can carry over the momentum from the Throwback 276 into the series’ next race at Orange County Speedway for the Mid-Atlantic Classic on Aug. 24.