Brandon Setzer broke through last weekend to win his first CARS Tour and Super Late Model race at Orange County Speedway, and in a wild and action-packed Late Model Stock event, Josh Berry survived more than half-dozen restart challenges from Deac McCaskill to win his second straight CARS Tour race in as many starts.
Setzer rebounded after withdrawing from the last race at Motor Mile Speedway with engine problems to win at Orange County and led nearly all 125 laps in the process.
Berry is now the first driver in CARS Tour history to win his first two career starts in the series. He remains undefeated after joining the Tour late at Motor Mile Speedway.
Super Late Models
Never miss a local story.
Setzer set a blistering fast time Saturday in Mahle Pistons pole qualifying and never looked back en route to a dominant performance in the CARS Tour Super Late Model 125-lap event. The Super Late Model event was relatively calm early on, with Setzer setting the pace over challengers Kyle Grissom, Clay Jones and Cole Timm. A pair of cautions slowed the race twice in the first 70 laps, one for a harmless spin by Dominique Van Wieringen and the other for an accident involving Trevor Noles in turn three.
Championship hopeful Zane Smith’s run at a second race win was derailed when a flat right front tire brought out the caution on lap 71 while running sixth. Smith was able to get to pit road, get a new tire and rebound to finish seventh, but the yellow erased Setzer’s lead on the pack.
The dynamic of the race changed on lap 97 when Clay Jones, who had recently pitted from the top five to repair issues with his car, got together with Richard Gould in turn three and launched over the top of Gould’s machine. After a few heated moments on-track, the two drivers were separated by series officials, but the season-best run for Jones was over.
Setzer was forced to fend off several attempts by Timm and a hard-charging Nasse to steal the win in the closing laps, but survived the pressure to take home his first career Super Late Model victory.
“Man, I thought we were really good but who could ever expect this,” Setzer said in Edelbrock victory lane. “We had never won a super late model race and then we come out here and run like that. You can’t expect that, so I’m really happy.”
“I love this track and it’s a home for Jim Robbins and Romeo Guest, and I really thank those guys,” Setzer said before stopping the interview, motioning his crew for water, showing the effects of of dehydration and sweltering temperatures he endured inside the car. Setzer was briefly tended to by track medical staff and was able to continue with victory lane ceremonies.
Following Setzer to the flag were Stephen Nasse, Timm, Quin Houff and Grissom. Timm extended his point lead, unofficially, to 10 points over Grissom.
Late Model Stock
Last Saturday at OCS, Berry qualified his JR Motorsports Chevrolet on the pole for the 125-lap race and started alongside regional racing veteran Jamey Caudill. Caudill got the advantage on the initial start and led the opening laps of the event as the field settled in behind him. Berry quickly found his groove and ran down front-row starter Jamey Caudill for the lead, but a caution slowed his attempt on lap 18. On the restart, Berry was able to get underneath Caudill and, after racing side-by-side, took the lead away on lap 24.
Berry checked out from the field with more than a two-second lead. Brayton Haws, Jamey Caudill, and Deac McCaskill were in a heated fight for the second position lap after lap, despite several cautions for accidents and body-related debris on track.
On a lap-100 restart, Brayton Haws’ car slowed and bottlenecked the field, resulting in contact with championship rival Myatt Snider. An accident involving Stefan Parsons and Michael Fose on the back straightaway brought out a caution, allowing Haws to change his tire and Snider to replace the hoodpins that sheared away from the earlier contact. Haws was assessed a two-lap penalty for an unapproved tire change when his team changed not only the flat tire, but also another one which was not deemed flat or damaged by CARS Tour officials.
After an incident with Stefan Parsons and Blake Stallings brought out another yellow late in the race, Berry and McCaskill restarted on the front row with only 11 laps remaining. Despite multiple attemps by McCaskill to pass Berry on the inside, Berry kept his challenger at bay and scored his second consecutive CARS Tour Late Model Stock victory.
“I can’t explain (the intensity of the final laps), and I never thought that race was going to end,” Berry remarked. “The outside was working so good that on every restart it was like racing for the win. I knew that if I lost the outside, to Deac especially, it would be tough to get back around him. We had to fight hard, man, and he raced me hard and raced me clean. I look up to him and he’s a hell of a racecar driver. That was fun. I love racing with him. I knew he was going to race me right and race me hard.” “It’s tough,” continued Berry when asked about staying perfect in CARS Tour competition. “It’s a tribute to hard work and good people around you. Over the last two years we’ve won a lot of races and it’s come from having great people. It’s a privilege to drive these racecars and a privilege to have Speedco on board and all of these guys behind me. It’s awesome, and we just want to keep winning.”
McCaskill closed in on championship chaser Brayton Haws with his second-place run, while Tyler Ankrum recovered from an early-race incident for third, followed by Caudill and Tommy Lemons, Jr.
McCaskill took second. Tyler Ankrum, after crashing his car in Thursday’s practice, then spinning mid-race and suffering a flat tire, took his ill-handling car home for third. Caudill finished fourthg for the second straight race.
Championship rivals Brayton Haws and Myatt Snider tangled in turn one on the final lap after trading blows over the course of the final few circuits. Haws’ car shot airborne over Snider’s machine after the final encounter on the white-flag lap, and Snider was then caught up in a spin with Michael Fose just yards from the checkered flag. Haws crossed the line sixth while Snider was credited with 10th. The drivers clashed and had to be separated by CARS officials.
- Jamey .
- Tyler Ankrum.