Halfway through the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Late Model Stock Tour season, legitimate contenders have emerged and old and new faces alike are battling for a series championship. Here now is the first ever RACE22.com CARS Tour Power Rankings.
1. Brayton Haws
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour has been Brayton Haws’ personal playground. With wins at Orange County, Hickory, and Tri-County and four top tens in the series’ first five events, Haws has been the most dominant driver in the inaugural CARS season. With Haws celebrating his 16th birthday this Sunday, another strong run at Motor Mile would make for a great Sweet Sixteen gift.
2. Deac McCaskill
While Deac McCaskill only has one win (at Southern National) to Haws’ three, the Raleigh, North Carolina native has consistently qualified well (including three pole position starts) and finished near the front to stay within nine markers of Haws through the first half of the season.
3. Jamey Caudill
The 2003 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner struggled to 19th place finishes in two of the first three rounds of the CARS Late Model Stock Tour. However, he has since put together a fourth place finish at Southern National and a third place finish at Tri-County.
4. Myatt Snider
Snider started the year with a pair of podium finishes at Southern National and Orange County, and has finished in the top ten at every event this season. As a result, he is hot on the tails of Haws and McCaskill in the points chase, just 11 points behind Haws. It is likely only a matter of time before Snider claims his first victory of the campaign.
5. R.D. Smith
Statistically the best driver this season for David Gilliland Racing, Smith appears poised to add a victory at some point this season. Quietly lurking in the background, R.D. Smith has accumulated three top-fives and four top-tens. Most recently, he finished second at Tri-County for his best finish of the season.
6. Justin Crider
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program hotshoe has been one of the surprises of the first half of the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, with podium runs at Orange County and Hickory. Finishes of 16th and 12th in the last two events have dropped him some in the standings, but he is still a driver to watch for the second half of the season.
7. Tommy Lemons, Jr.
By his high standards, it’s been a terrible year in the CARS Tour for Tommy Lemons. However, he has finished in the top-ten in every event other than Hickory, in which he was derailed by an incident with Jamey Caudill. Perhaps his victory at the Rusty Harpe Memorial at Caraway Speedway can be the catalyst to stronger CARS Tour finishes.
8. Austin McDaniel
The highlight of McDaniel’s season has been the Hickory race, in which the former track champion came away with a second-place finish after a thrilling duel with Brayton Haws over the final 15 laps of the race. That moment has been a spark for McDaniel’s season, as he has grabbed two more top-ten finishes since that event.
9. Todd Gilliland
In the CARS Tour’s two stops at Southern National, Gilliland collected a win and a third-place finish. In the three other races, however, Gilliland has crashed out. In the most recent event at Tri-County, Gilliland’s role in an accident drew the ire Tommy Lemons and Tyler Ankrum. If he’s able to stay on track, Gilliand can expect a stronger finish to the season.
10. Tyler Ankrum
Ankrum has three top-five finishes this season, including an impressive run in the inaugural race in which he charged from a Last Chance Qualifier transfer spot to fifth place. Only a pair of multi-car accidents have kept the 15-year-old out of the top five at Orange County and Tri-County.