The 2020 Late Model Stock season began with holiday leftovers from 2019.
Two-time and reigning CARS Tour champion Bobby McCarty edged-out Lee Pulliam and emerged victorious after a thrilling green-white-checkered finish on Sunday in the rescheduled Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park.
McCarty passed Justin Johnson on Lap 86 to take the lead and held off a fierce challenge from Pulliam. In the closing laps, Pulliam closed in on McCarty, but both drivers had problems in lapped traffic, which eventually triggered a caution when Justin Johnson went around with two laps to go, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
McCarty lined up on the inside for the final restart while Pulliam was on the outside. The two raced side-by-side in the final two laps of the race, with McCarty taking the win by 0.040-seconds.
“It was really cool and a lot of fun,” McCarty said. “I respect Lee a lot. He’s a great race car driver. To come here and have a race like that with him and none of this stuff we’ve been seeing last year where people were just driving through each other and everything else. It was just good racing. That was a lot of fun. I’m glad it ended that way.”
Pulliam, who won the Thanksgiving Classic back in 2015, wanted to win the race but was satisfied with the finish and how it played out.
“That was great short track racing right there,” Pulliam said. “Bobby, he’s done a really good job. I could rotate better than him but he had a little better forward drive than me. I knew we were in good position to have a good hard race there and he drove me really clean. That was just good hard short track racing right there. Drag race to the finish line.”
For McCarty, the fun came not just in the finish with Pulliam but also in how little grip the car had in the closing laps of the race.
“You’ve got to play the save your tires game and make sure you go at the right time and, I feel like we went at the right time,” McCarty said. “I felt we were really close to Lee, I felt like he was a little better than us, but there at the end, you’re loose getting in, tight through the center, and loose off, and the car’s all over the place. That’s the kind of racing that I love, just having no grip in the car whatsoever and holding on. I knew Lee’s car was the same way.”
McCarty will compete in the Solid Rock Carriers 300 presented by SRI Performance, the season opening race for the 2020 Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour campaign, next Saturday where he will begin his quest for a third consecutive series title. Pulliam will field cars driven by Corey Heim, who finished fifth in Sunday’s race, and defending Southern National CARS Tour winner Brandon Pierce.
Defending Southern National Motorsports Park track champion Bradley McCaskill finished third, while Brenden Queen and Corey Heim rounded out the top-five.
Late Model Stock Car
- Bobby McCarty
- Lee Pulliam
- Bradley McCaskill
- Brenden Queen
- Corey Heim
- Jacob Heafner
- Justin Johnson
- Aaron Donnelly
- Chase Burrow
- Nolan Pope
- Jared Fryar
- John Whaley
- Mike Ganoe
- Clay Jones