The CARS Late Model Stock Tour will descend into Sophia, North Carolina. This Saturday, the 125 lap feature in the David Lightning Saunders Memorial 265 will be the main event.
Everyone in the southeast region has had to deal with issues stemming from the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, especially for those involved in stock car racing. Despite the challenges that short-track racing has faced recently due to a global pandemic, a fuel shortage, and even racing tire scarcity, the CARS Tour race officials have been proactive in accommodating the teams. The Colonial Pipeline shutdown canceled events at racing venues across the south.
Lonesome Pine Speedway and Tri-County Speedway, among others, had to cease operation for the week. The minds behind the series, including Jack McNelly and CARS Tour officials, introduced a slightly altered tire selection system that will begin at Caraway Speedway and potentially be the new procedure for the events to come.
The tour will try to continue in a business as usual fashion. The most recent winner, Layne Riggs, discussed with RACE22 what has been going on ahead of the event at Caraway Speedway.
“We’re all kind of in hard times right now, being shut down for so long is finally catching up with everybody,” Riggs stated. “Getting parts and getting steel is harder. Parts are getting scarce, we can’t get any more wheels right now if we wanted to.”
Riggs explained how the tire selection process differs this weekend.
“The CARS Tour is taking precautions. We will be selecting our race tires first when we get in. It’s the first time we’ve ever done that. Tires are the most important thing on a racecar; it’s the only thing touching the ground, hopefully. They’re doing a good job, it’s the best they can do with what they have. They listen to the racers, they aren’t leaving us out to dry.”
When the drivers show up for Friday practice, that practice will now be mandatory. Numbers will be chosen randomly for teams to select tires for the race first before they get to pick the compounds they will use in practice. Riggs went into detail about what separates good tires from bad tires and why the order of selecting which set to use is so important.
“The biggest thing is serial numbers. The numbers are random in the way that they become assigned onto the tire. We come in and look at what group of numbers are available and what the batch number is. The rubber compounds can also be different. Your goal is to try to match all four of them as close as possible to each other. We had a problem with it at Hickory. When it was our turn to select tires, there were ten tires left, all with different serial numbers.”
Riggs explained what teams look for as they shop around for fresh rubber.
“The perfect tires from the trailer are ones that were made most recently. You look for the last four to come off of the press all in a row. Having one bad tire will throw the balance of the car off versus the tire you practice with. You can use tools to measure the stagger and a durometer to inspect the thickness of the rubber as well.”
Riggs won at Ace speedway two weeks earlier and notched his first win of 2021. According to the Bahama, NC driver, the two tracks just a county away from each other are very similar in setup requirements. Riggs can ride some momentum into an event with quite a few question marks and unknowns because of his team’s recent success. Riggs mentioned a few things that could be contributing to the difficulty of predicting the inaugural CARS Tour event at the facility.
“There are small details that can change the complexion of a race as it relates to track conditions,” explained Riggs. “Caraway Speedway hosted a monster truck event that required loads of dirt to get hauled onto the track surface.”
In early practice sessions, the remaining dust created a loose condition that drew the ire of some competitors.
“The track conditions are expected to change lap by lap, making the setups for the weekend unpredictable.”
Caraway is billed as a wildcard race because no driver currently competing in the tour competed at Caraway Speedway as their home race track. Jared Fryar ran in some Late Model events in the past. Despite that, Caraway is a new beast on the schedule. For Riggs, like many other drivers, he had never seen the track in person. Caraway’s CARS Tour date will likely throw odd situations at drivers and teams.
Follow Layne Riggs and the unpredictable action at Caraway Speedway with updates and recaps from race22.com, the Short Track Authority.
Cover photo by Bridger Swinimer.