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Earlier this season, Ashlyn McCaskill, the daughter of the iconic four-time Southern National Motorsports Park track champion Deac McCaskill, was involved in an accident in qualifying ahead of the season-opening race for the division. On Saturday night, the difficult journey back to the track paid off when she was able to hold off Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones on a late race restart to score the victory.
The victory came in McCaskill’s first race since her accident in March.
“The wreck at the beginning of the season was rough but I wanted to continue racing,” McCaskill remarked after the race. “This is my life. This is what I love to do. I just can’t thank my dad and everybody enough who support me to get back here. I was ready to go back racing after the accident, but the car wasn’t in good shape and I had to get my health back right first. It’s just amazing. No words can explain the feeling of it.”
After the race, Deac McCaskill, smiling ear-to-ear like only a father could after his daughter’s triumph, talked about her long road back and the satisfaction of seeing her score the victory on Saturday.
“She’s awesome man,” the elder McCaskill exclaimed. “What she’s been through this year, to come back and win the first race back is fantastic. She’s got a lot of talent in her. I have to hand it to her. We’re still learning, that’s what we’re here for. Hopefully, we get a few more races in before the season ends. Just having fun. Appreciate everyone coming out, great crowd tonight.”
McCaskill qualified on the pole, but Jason Williams dominated in the early stages of the race. In the closing laps, McCaskill raced her way back to the lead and, when Williams was involved in an incident with Dylan Newsome, McCaskill had to survive a Green-White-Checkered restart. Ronnie Jones finished in second while P.J. Flowers, Thomas Brander and Jason Williams completed the top-five.
GRADY NOTCHES UPSET
Andrew Grady flipped the script in the first of two Late Model Stock Car races at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday night, holding off a field which included three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam to score the victory.
The Knightdale driver had plenty of confidence entering the race after setting the fast lap in qualifying over teammate Jonathan Findley and Pulliam. Grady led from the drop of the green flag all the way to the drop of the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2017 season and one of the biggest wins of his racing career.
“I’m speechless right now and I always talk a lot,” Grady said in victory lane after the race. “Last race, we destroyed this car on the frontstretch. Mike Darne Racing, Dennis Brock and all my guys rebuilt it inside of 24 hours, came out here tonight, sat on the pole, led flag-to-flag. I battled with Mr. Three-Time National Champion tonight. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Trevor Noles finished the race in the second position while Findley, Mason Diaz and Rusty Daniels rounded out the top-five. The first race was red flagged after a multi-car incident took place on the backstretch, concluding with Haley Moody, who tried to avoid the accident that broke out in front of her, on top of the car driven by Jeff Oakley. Both drivers were okay after the crash.
Pulliam, who came to Southern National needing to win races in his quest to win a fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship, picked up the victory in the second 40-lap race. However, the attrition from the first race eliminated six cars from the starting lineup for the second race, rendering the win ineffective in his chase for the national championship.
“Competition was great tonight,” Pulliam said. “We thought we had a shot to win that first race and we hit a piece of lead there and knocked the duct work in and messed the kick out pretty bad. Just glad nobody got hurt there, it was a big piece of led that damaged the car up pretty good. The guys worked their butts off to get the car ready for the second race. It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough to get it done and, had a great field.”
Trevor Noles finished in second while Grady, Chris Chapman and Diaz rounded out the top-five.
COLT JAMES SHOW CONTINUES
Colt James picked up his seventh and eighth consecutive wins in the Fast Five Pro Late Model Series in dominant fashion on Saturday night.
James qualified on the pole for the first Pro Late Model race and led wire-to-wire in the 75-lap race to pick up his seventh victory, scoring the win over Jared Fryar and Nick Robinson. However, the second race was anything but easy.
James started the race in the eighth position after an invert. Hailie Deegan, the daughter of legendary Motocross racer Brian Deegan, started on the pole and dominated in the early laps until Nick Robinson got by her on lap 32. Shortly after, a competition caution with 35 laps to go erased Robinson’s lead and James was able to get the holeshot on the restart. James pulled away from Nick Robinson and Jody Measamer to score the victory, his eighth in a row.
“That was, you know, that was probably the hardest win we’ve had to work for, just not knowing who saved what the first race tire-wise,” James said after the second race. “I was a little worried there about 25 laps in, it seems like we stalled off there in about fourth place. Then, it just seemed like, around lap 30, everybody’s tires started falling off and ours didn’t fall off as much. We had a really good car in the long run.”
Robert Arch made a statement in the Charger race, leading wire-to-wire to score the victory, his first of the season in his second start of the season, holding off Brian Obiedzenski and Justin Mitchell.
“I just wanted to let everyone know I’m still king around here when it comes to these Charger cars,” Arch explained. “I’ve got to thank Ronald Renfrow. He wanted to help the car count and he ran the Pro car so I’ve got to thank him for letting me race and trusting me in his car. It was phenomenal all day long, could go wherever I wanted. It was fun to be back, glad to be incident free. Should be two-in-a-row but you can’t win them all sometimes.”
Chris Stancil scored the victory in a chaotic Legends. Caleb Day dominated the race, but in the mid-stage of the race, he spun off the front bumper of division points leader Chris Floars.
Floars was sent to the rear of the field for aggressive driving, paving the road for Stancil. Floars frantically raced his way back through the field, finishing second.
In the Bandolero feature, Ethan Johnson picked up his fifth win of the season, barely holding off Emily Day while Josh Speas finished in third.
Saturday night’s race, a fan appreciation night sponsored by Solid Rock Carriers and Whelen Engineering, boasted Southern National’s most competitive field in its Late Model classes and was also one of the most attended races in recent years at the Lucama track.
The next race at SNMP will be held on Sunday, Sept. 10 where champions will be crowned as the regular season draws to a close.