Bobby McCarty was not happy following Saturday’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.
On paper, the two-time CARS Tour champion had plenty to celebrate. He picked up his second Top 10 in the prestigious event and managed to claim his first Virginia Late Model Triple Crown title over Peyton Sellers.
None of that mattered in the moment for McCarty, who believed he should have been the one embracing the grandfather clock after dominating the opening 75 laps.
“I want to be happy for my team,” McCarty said after the race. “Frustration is really the word to sum up [Saturday]. You go from lifting off at the flagstand and pulling away to finishing sixth. I don’t know what to say honestly.”
The bulk of McCarty’s frustration stemmed from decisions made by race control.
During the driver’s meeting, race director Lynn Carroll informed the crowd that the race would be red flagged if track officials had to go through an extensive cleanup. This was done as a way to conserve the limited amount of tires available for the weekend while ensuring fans could witness as many green flag laps as possible.
McCarty felt that race control was inconsistent with the procedure, particularly when it came down to handling two late-race cautions that slowed the field down for a significant period of time.
“I want to know why the red flag came out at every caution during the first 50 laps but not the last 50,” McCarty said. “We ran about 20 laps under caution during that last stage and the race didn’t really play out. I’m curious as to why but I know I’ll just get an ‘I don’t know’ if I ask somebody.”
Even if the field ran fewer laps under caution during the last stage, McCarty knew the odds of winning the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 were against him despite possessing a car that he believed was the fastest on track.
McCarty gave up the lead after Lap 75 when several drivers elected to stay out on track. He raced his way back up to second behind Layne Riggs before more diverging strategy calls relegated him to ninth for the final sprint to the finish.
McCarty struggled to move back up to the front with a limited amount of laps at his disposal all while Landon Pembelton, who had taken tires earlier than most of his competition at the first stage break, pulled away with his first ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
The chance to win a ValleyStar Credit Union 300 for McCarty will have to wait one more year but he was still proud to see his team’s hard work pay off with a Virginia Triple Crown title.
Despite winning the Virginia Triple Crown, McCarty could not help but think about what might have happened on Saturday had circumstances gone in his favor.
“All of these guys worked really hard,” McCarty said. “We brought three good cars and ran three good races. It’s still a cool deal because this is the first time I’ve ever won [the Triple Crown] but man, I wanted that grandfather clock way more than the Triple Crown.”
Now that the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is behind him, McCarty is turning his attention towards maintain his points lead across the final three CARS Tour races and defending his victory in the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway during the month of October.
Accomplishing either of those goals would give McCarty something to smile about as he heads into the offseason.