Justin Carroll channeled ‘The White Knight’ Dick Trickle, on his way to his first career CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car victory on Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway.
His triumph was the culmination of a dramatic three-car battle with Austin McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo. For nearly 10 laps, the trio sporadically ran three-wide around ‘The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars’ worthy of the legends they honored before the event.
With five laps to go, Alfredo clipped McDaniel, but both somehow kept their cars straight. However, the loss of momentum was enough for Carroll to capitalize. It was on Lap 134 that Carroll finally got around McDaniel and he held on for the final four laps to take his Drickle/Junie Donlavey inspired No. 90 to Victory Lane.
“It felt absolutely crazy behind the driver’s seat honestly,” Carroll said. “That was the craziest race I have ever been a part of, and probably the best short track race these fans have ever got to see. We were three wide for a solid two laps, multiple times. This car was hooked up tonight. We got out front and led quite a bit there. We had a restart, I about blew it, missed a shift, and let McDaniel get out there. He was really good around the top. I thought we were wrecking at one point heading into three, but somehow I got out front, and here we are in victory lane.”
This was Carroll’s first career CARS Tour victory.
“It doesn’t get much better than this Throwback Weekend,” Carroll said. “If Josh Berry or Deac McCaskill won this, this would have been one of their biggest wins. So given what we’ve done so far, this is definitely the biggest win of my racing career.”
Not only did the car honor Trickle, it included a cigarette lighter inside on the dash, a signature Trickle accessory. Trickle won an estimated 1,000 short track races in his career. Carroll felt like he had Trickle on board with him.
“I almost think it was Dick Trickle driving this thing in the last 15 or 20 laps,” Carroll said. “He’s got over 1,000 short track wins in late models. He was definitely riding with me tonight. It was so cool to honor him. Just having his name on the car, he’s won so much, it’s truly an honor to have him on the car.
“Like I said, I think he was there, riding with us. It’s just so cool. The CARS Tour did an awesome job with this stuff, they blew it out of the water, doing all of this Throwback stuff. I think it brought a lot of fans to the track. Dick Trickle, he used to smoke under cautions. We went all out with the throwback stuff. We even put a cigarette lighter in the car because that’s what he had in there. We also had a cigarette taped to the dashboard because that’s what he used to do. It’s just been fun this whole weekend. That’s just Dick Trickle’s style, isn’t it?”
Winning was his style too.
Much like Trickle, Carroll won without losing the respect of his rivals. Both McDaniel and Alfredo said it was the most fun they’ve had in a race car.
“The edges get rougher here for sure, but Justin and I ran side-by-side for a long time and barely touched,” McDaniel said. “That’s hard to do. Then it became a three-wide battle and that’s when it got wild.
“I admit that I tried to get (Alfredo) back there. I just wanted that win, man. We ended up third. I was just happy to lead some laps. We’re getting closer to where we need to be. We just didn’t have anything for the 90.”
McDaniel actually led the field to green on the final restart on Lap 112 and got a pretty good jump on the field. But Carroll quickly chased him down a few laps later.
It was that battle that invited Alfredo into the fray.
“It was racey,” Alfredo said. “Maybe too racey but it’s part of it. It took a lot of things to happen to get us to that point where we were contending for the win but those happened. That’s good. I just wish we were one position better. I thought we were at the end.
“Give me a few more laps and I’m convinced we could have had something for the 90.”
The race was best described as a battle of attrition as it was slowed nine times by the yellow flag. There was also two red flags. The longest delay occured on Lap 27 when Ty Gibbs suffered an engine failure.
He put down fluid that caused Evan Swilling, Stefan Parsons and Landon Huffman to crash in his wake.
The complete results can be found below.
- Justin Carroll
- Anthony Alfredo
- Austin McDaniel
- Brandon Grosso
- Ryan Repko
- Dexter Canipe Jr.
- Danny O’Quinn
- Cody Haskins
- Landon Huffman
- Layne Riggs
- Deac McCaskill
- Ronald Hill
- Jared Fryar
- Chris Hudspeth
- Annabeth Barnes Crum
- Josh Berry
- Justin Johnson
- Tommy Lemons Jr.
- Ty Gibbs
- Stefan Parsons
- Evan Swilling
- Craig Moore
- Robert Tyler
STS’ Matt Weaver contributed to this report.