On Saturday night, Ryan Repko was the class of the field in the first of twin Late Model races and on Sunday afternoon he would once again prove to be the best in the first race. In race two, Bradley McCaskill, who had been a contender all weekend, finally sealed the deal and picked up a win.
McCaskill won the pole for the second day in a row over a 17-car field, but his stint at the front of the field was short-lived as Repko, who qualified second made his move early and never looked back on his way to victory lane. McCaskill stuck with Repko but didn’t have enough to get by him as the race wore on.
Just past the halfway point in the 40-lap feature a competition caution waved slowing the field. This is when the biggest moment of the weekend took place as two of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National points contenders got into one another. The contact began when Mike Looney went to the outside for the restart and tried desperately to get ahead of Repko to take the lead and got into the corner too hard.
As they made it around to turn three Looney and Morris tangled as they got three-wide for position. The contact ended Looney’s day while Morris would be put to the rear of the field for rough driving. Chris Chapman, who was having a good run early in this one also got tangled up in the crash.
Looney said that Morris just got in too hard and got into him.
“We were trying to get after Repko on that start,” Looney told RACE22. “I overdrove one a little bit, pushed up. Was trying to get a little better arc in three there and he just got in there a little hot and got into us and turned us around. Cars were just coming so fast, a big train of them just run over us.”
Looney said he knows that Morris didn’t do it on purpose.
“I’m sure he didn’t run over me on purpose,” Looney explained. “We’ve been racing together a long time, it’s just racing. Everybody gets a mulligan. Hope he don’t do it every week but I know it was an accident. If I thought he done it on purpose I’d be down there on top of him right now.”
Morris declined to comment after the first race but after the second race, he called the incident the worst possible thing.
“The worst possible thing getting together with Mike Looney,” Morris told RACE22. “I got kinda lured into a three-wide and Mike got pretty high up maybe into the marbles over here. I checked up and then when we got to the other end I was to his inside and had one to my inside and it looked like Mike parked it. I got on the binders hard but not good enough to stay out of him.”
Morris admitted he spun Looney.
“I spun him,” Morris continued. “Just flat out, I just got into him. I just couldn’t get whoaed up enough. Not sure what happened in front of me. I was going in and had the 18 inside of me.”
With Looney out and done for the day and Morris sent to the rear for rough driving, the race resumed as Repko drove off to victory ahead of McCaskill and Brandon Clements. Clements had rebounded from a tough outing the night before where his car got heavy front end damage after a lap one missed shift in front of him stacked up the field.
Repko said it means a lot to him to run like this against so many great drivers at a track he hadn’t seen before this weekend.
“We just hit on something here that’s been really good,” Repko told RACE22. It’s worked everywhere. It means a lot to win, especially since this is my first time here. Southern National is one of those really well-respected racetracks where you know a lot of good people run and there were a lot of national championships in the field. It’s tough to win and I’m really proud of how this weekend went.”
In the second race of the night the field shrunk a little with Looney’s damage and Sam Yarbrough electing not to start the race. 15-cars made the call for the start of the 40-lap race and after two straight second-place finishes it was time for McCaskill to shine but not before his teammate for the day, Mason Diaz took his turn in front of the field.
Diaz, whose father owns the track, had been working hard all weekend as a member of the track staff from lining up cars to changing all the Late Model and Charger division tires and everything else needed. However, after qualifying Ronald Renfrow got sick and had to leave the track and he asked Diaz to race his car in the two races. Diaz agreed and traded in his official shirt for his racing uniform.
Diaz, who had already run two races this weekend in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Xfinity Series at Bristol Motor Speedway, made the most of the opportunity. He would start shotgun on the 17-car field in race one and raced his way to the 8th position before strategically staying there hoping that the invert would be the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series mandated eight cars for twin race number two.
The invert put Diaz on the pole for the second race and he led the majority of the race before his car got loose and began emitting smoke as he toured the track in the closing laps. The handling on his car would cost him the lead to McCaskill, who went on to win the race. Diaz explained how he ended up in the car.
“Ronald called me after qualifying and said ‘dude hop in the car, I don’t feel like driving anymore’,” Diaz told RACE22. “So, I hopped in the car and first race I got to eighth and sat there. I thought my car was good and we went green and my car was bad fast but way at the end there it just got too free.”
McCaskill was happy to finally get a win to end the weekend and proud to get a one-two finish.
“We kept working on it, getting a little better each time,” McCaskill told RACE22. “It’s been a long weekend. It’s hot. We got that car (Diaz’ car) a little too free on the long run and we were able to squeak by there at the end. Pretty cool for a one-two finish for our team.”
Peyton Sellers, who came into the weekend tied for the lead in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National points lead finished third but said he didn’t think he had gained any points today. It was not the weekend that either of the three points contenders had hoped for.
Cover photo by Kimberly Austin.
Race #1 Results:
1 – Ryan Repko #71
2 – Bradley McCaskill #18
3 – Brandon Clements #7
4 – Peyton Sellers #26
5 – Brian Vause #26
6 – Ross “BooBoo” Dalton #50
7 – Connor Mosack #18
8 – Mason Diaz #07
9 – Sam Yarbrough #20
10 – Brian Obiedzenski #29
11 – Philip Morris #01
12 – Gracie Trotter #2
13 – Paul Williamson #29
14 – Wes Burton #19
15 – Mike Looney #87
16 – Bobby Morris #4
17 – Chris Chapman #51
Race #2 Results:
1 – Bradley McCaskill #18
2 – Mason Diaz #07
3 – Peyton Sellers #26
4 – Ryan Repko #71
5 – Ross “BooBoo” Dalton #50
6 – Connor Mosack #18
7 – Brandon Clements #7
8 – Philip Morris #01
9 – Brian Obiedzenski #29
10 – Brian Vause #26
11 – Gracie Trotter #2
12 – Paul Williamson #29
13 – Cameron Murray #4
14 – Chris Chapman #51