Bobby McCarty left South Boston Speedway this year to chase a touring series championship. In a bit of racing irony, he can clinch that championship Saturday afternoon … at South Boston Speedway.
South Boston is McCarty’s home track. He raced here full time the past few years. In 2017 he won four races and was second in the Late Model points standings at season’s end. This season, though, he and his Nelson Motorsports team opted to run the CARS Response Energy Tour to give the young driver the opportunity to experience different tracks.
The learning curve was short for McCarty. He won the CARS Tour season opener and never looked back. He enters the AutosByNelson 250 at South Boston Saturday with a series-high four victories and holds a 20-point lead over Lee Pulliam entering the season finale.
“We tested and prepared and we won the season opener,” said McCarty. “We won the season opener and then we went to Myrtle Beach and finished fourth or fifth. Then we went to Hickory and won, and things kept building up and building up. We weren’t expecting it, but we go to win every week.
“I’m surprised at how well things have gone and I’m proud of our accomplishments.”
McCarty doesn’t have to win at South Boston to claim the 2018 CARS Tour Late Model championship. Finishing ahead of or even close to Pulliam will be enough to take the title. McCarty wants more, though.
“We’re always excited and ready to go, especially with this being the last race of the year. The record in the CARS Tour is four wins in a season and we’d like to have five and the record,” said McCarty, who gives much credit for his success this season to sponsor Solid Rock Carriers and its owner Kirk Ipock.
McCarty understands, though, there’s still a lot of work to be done if he is to get a fifth win and the championship.
He knows, even with a 20-point lead, Pulliam remains a formidable foe, especially at South Boston. He won the track championship in 2013 and has had a couple of runner-up finishes since. He’s won four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championships and actually has a grandstand named for him at South Boston.
“Lee really knows how to get around this place. We have to be on top of our game,” said McCarty. “We’ve got a little cushion, but not enough to be comfortable.”
McCarty has raced three times at South Boston this season and had three respectable top-five finishes, but finishes he wasn’t pleased with.
“I know how the track races and how it will do on a run. I have a good idea how to get around the place,” said McCarty. “But I feel on a whole I’ve struggled at South Boston some recently. When I ran there all the time, I was good, but don’t feel I’m as good as I used to be there.”
McCarty says one of his strong suits as a driver is his ability to adapt to the track and to situations.
“Ninety percent of what I do is based on what the car wants to do,” said McCarty. “I adapt to the car and the track. I always have an idea what I want to do, but it comes down to what the car wants to do.”