In his 20th CARS Tour start, Craig Moore finally completed the ultimate underdog story.
Moore had come close sporadically over the past three seasons, scoring at least one top-five and lap led on the tour since 2016, but just couldn’t seal the deal until Saturday night at South Boston Speedway in the season finale.
Moore once again ran inside the top-five and capitalized when leaders Timothy Peters and Brandon Pierce oddly collided under caution. Moore had led earlier in the race but reassumed the lead once Peters hit pit road and never looked back.
The 2013 and 2015 Orange County Speedway track champion closed out in spectacular fashion, holding off Deac McCaskill, Lee Pulliam and Josh Berry over the final nine-lap run. That’s two CARS Tour championships, seven state championships and four NASCAR national championships he defeated.
He also bested a JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing car in the process.
“We’ve had a really tough year and to end it with a CARS Tour win, was huge,” Moore said. “Really, the only guys who weren’t in this race were Philip Morris and Peyton Sellers. I hate some of the guys had bad luck but I feel like we had a good car.
“You’re racing with the best of the best. There’s no doubt, awesome win. One of the best I’ve ever had, one of the most prestigious.”
In true South Boston fashion, the early stages of the race was being dominated by the four-car Nelson Motorsports powerhouse with Pierce, Peters and CARS Tour championship leader Bobby McCarty all taking turns at the front of the field.
But Pierce and Peters came together under caution on Lap 73 and that allowed Moore to control the pace of the race.
“We’re not a big team,” Moore said. “We don’t have a lot of resources and we’ve had so much bad luck this year. I’ve got to thank Brian Tanner and Tanner Race Engines. We ran one of his Harrington motors and it really helped tonight.”
Meanwhile, McCarty held on to become the fourth different CARS Tour champion in as many seasons, but it wasn’t without a scary moment near the halfway point of Saturday’s race.
McCarty sailed into Turn 3 on Lap 67 from the lead and the car didn’t turn. He stalled his No. 22 and brought out the caution, losing a lap in the process. McCarty entered the weekend with a 20 point championship advantage over Pulliam.
When McCarty lost a lap and fell out of the top-15, Pulliam had a shot, but McCarty’s Nelson Motorsports team diagnosed the problem and they recovered to a ninth-place finish and a 13-point title victory.
“You don’t want to know what went through my mind,” McCarty said. “I was more afraid that a suspension part broke. Once we figured out it was the tire, I was okay.
“Once we got it fixed, it wasn’t fixed all the way, and we just had to maintain. It wasn’t pretty and we just had to dodge wrecks for the rest of the race. It wasn’t pretty but we got the job done.”
McCarty joins Brayton Haws, Deac McCaskill, and Josh Berry as CARS Tour Late Model Stock divison champions.
The complete results from South Boston can be found below.
- Craig Moore
- Deac McCaskill
- Lee Pulliam
- Josh Berry
- Brandon Pierce
- Ty Gibbs
- Trevor Ward
- Sam Mayer
- Bobby McCarty
- Tyler Hughes
- Stacy Puryear
- Grayson Cullather
- Charlie Watson
- Austin Thaxton
- Mason Diaz
- Eric Winslow
- Timothy Peters
- Ronald Hill
- Mini Tyrrell
- Jessica Dana
- Colin Garrett
- Cole Glasson
- Jacob Heafner
- Logan Jones
- Chris Denny
- Mason Hudson
- Rodney Boyd
- Layne Riggs
- Camden Gullie