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Lessard, Berry take wins in CARS Tour race at Myrtle Beach

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (Sept. 18, 2016) -- For the second time in as many races, Raphael Lessard and Josh Berry took home the checkered flag in the CARS Racing Tour, winning at Myrtle Beach Speedway in the BakerDist.com/Honeywell 200 presented by Sports Radio 100.3 The Team on Saturday night. Both drivers won their respective races from the pole position, just as they did at Concord Speedway three weeks ago.



Raphael Lessard captured his first career pole in Mahle Pistons Pole Qualifying, shattering the track record held by Brandon Setzer from one year ago with a lap of 19.943 seconds, averaging 97.117 mph. Setzer started alongside in his pursuit to defend his win in this event one year ago.


After the drop of the green flag, Myrtle Beach’s famous tire conservation style of racing quickly began. While Lessard led the opening few circuits, Steve Wallace charged ahead to the top spot on lap 4. He was soon challenged for the lead by super late model newcomer Chad McCumbee who overtook the No. 66 of Wallace for command of the race on lap 7.


Matt Craig was one of the most aggressive drivers on the speedway during the opening fifth of the race. Craig, along with Gus Dean and Hannah Newhouse, opted for a strategy of early track position and charged their ways to the top three early, with Craig taking over the lead on lap 17. Craig stretched his advantage to nearly 3 seconds over Dean at various stages of the race, but any advantage he had was erased when Brandon Setzer spun on lap 79 after a mechanical issue surfaced. Setzer was penalized a lap for intentionally causing a yellow while everyone behind Craig was able to restart on the back bumer of the No. 54 Chevrolet.


Gus Dean, Raphael Lessard and others took full advantage of their close proximity to the lead on the restart, hounding Craig for the top spot as the laps clicked away. Lessard and Craig gradually pulled away from the field and waged a thrilling two-car fight for the lead that saw Lessard make his way around Craig on lap 92. Lessard stretched his lead to nearly a full second at the checkered flag, taking home his second consecutive CARS Tour win and third of his career. Gus Dean finished second, followed by Dalton Sargeant, Craig and Tyler Ankrum.


“It was very hard, I've never had to be that smooth in my life,” Lessard said in victory lane when asked about the difficulty of the event. “But Seth Smith was telling me exactly what to do and I was able to do it right. I'm just so happy. I can't thank David Gilliland Racing enough for this Toyota Camry. It's just awesome to have two wins in a row like this. I can't thank everyone enough. He was very good late, but I think I saved a little bit more of my tires in the beginning than he did,” Lessard continued when asked about his late-race battle with Matt Craig and the points implications of Saturday’s event. “He did an excellent job, and I got into him a little bit, but it was racing for the lead and I want to thank him for racing me clean. I'm always thinking about the championship, but we're trying to go race by race and do my best every race. I just know my David Gilliland Racing team will work hard every race and we should be very good.”




Continuing the theme from super late model qualifying, Josh Berry laid down his own track record lap in Hedgecock Pole Qualifying for the CARS Late Model Stock Tour. JR Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes started to Berry’s outside, making it the first sweep of front row for Dale Earnhardt Jr’s CARS Tour teams in their history.


Much like Concord three weeks ago, Berry appeared to be the car to beat early, jumping out to an early advantage over Deac McCaskill, Christian Eckes and others. However, McCaskill was not content to ride second for long and swiped the lead away from Berry on lap 14.


McCaskill paced the field for 22 laps until Sam Yarbrough, who earlier had to leave the track for medical attention due to sickness, bypassed him for the lead on lap 37.


Bryant Barnhill brought out the first caution of the event with a lazy spin in turn one and the resulting restart gave the competition a chance to joust with Yarbrough once more. The No. 20 held onto the lead and set the pace through the two-thirds mark of the event.


By lap 70, Josh Berry had reeled in Yarbrough for the race lead and began aggressively challenging the four-time track champion for the top spot. He maneuvered his way around on lap 73 for his second stint of the evening at the front of the field.


Tommy Lemons and Stefan Parsons waged war with each other in the middle of the top ten at the same time the lead battle was being fought, with Parsons and Lemons making contact that damaged Parsons’ No. 98 car. Lemons appeared to be undamaged until the right rear tire went flat on lap 84, forcing officials to throw the second caution flag of the night and bringing the No. 27 to pit road for a fresh tire with only 16 laps remaining.


On the restart, Berry once again shot out ahead of the field and gave no one a shot to bypass his Speedco Chevrolet. Lemons, however, charged his way from 16th to second by lap 95. But Berry’s car was too far ahead by the time Lemons was in position to challenge. Berry cruised to his seventh career series win, the fourth for the Tennessee native this year. Lemons finished second while Yarbrough, Eckes and McCaskill rounded out the top five.

“He started slipping a little bit and I could see it, so I tried to push him a little bit and see what he had, and as soon as he went to the top I knew he was searching and I felt really good at that point,” Berry said in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “I just tried to get the lead and manage it. With Tommy having a new right rear at the end, I knew if we got a caution we'd probably be in trouble and I just tried to stretch it out as much as I could and pull away. I have to give a lot of credit to these guys, they've worked extremely hard driving this car here and doing everything they do to allow me to make it farther in this sport and they've been supporting me the entire time. The streak that we're on right now is one that I'm never going to take for granted in my life. It feels so fortunate to win all these races and I just want to keep it going,” he opined later in the victory lane interview.


Berry arrived in Myrtle Beach at noon on raceday after arriving at his home in Charlotte at 3:30am that morning following his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut. In an underfunded truck, Berry wrestled his way to a 13th place finish in his first start in the third-tier national series.


“DJ Kopp put me in that truck on Friday night because he saw me race at Tri-County, saw me win, and called me to say, 'Hey, let's go run a race," and those opportunities are few and far between right now,” Berry explained when asked about how much his CARS Tour success is helping his career. “I just know that at this stage of my career, I'm not getting any younger and I need to perform at a high level in every race. We've got a great crew and great racecars right now, and when you have those you've got to win, and that's what I'm trying my hardest to do. I never thought I'd have the success I've had, and I'm just very thankful for the opportunity, and I'm always trying to find the next one and hopefully that comes soon for me.”


The next race for the CARS Racing Tour is October 29 at Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, NC. The Cloer Construction 300 will boast the always-generous traditional CARS Tour purse in addition to lap bonuses for drivers in various positions throughout the event. A potential $10,000+ payday is up for drivers in each of the two feature events.


For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at www.carsracingtour.com. Fresh content and updates can also be found on the series Facebook page (/carstour), Twitter (@carstour), Instagram (@cars_tour) and Youtube channel (/c/carstour). The series Roku app is also populated regularly with content from CARS Tour events and special productions.




Some drivers lead races they never win, and win races where they rarely lead. But Josh Berry is batting a perfect average. In his CARS Tour career, Berry has led only seven races, and they have been every race he visited victory lane. So, to date, if Berry gets out front, the statistics say it’s his race for the taking.


The super late model championship battle between Raphael Lessard and Brandon Setzer took a very lopsided turn on Saturday night. With Setzer’s late-race penalty for intentionally bringing out a yellow, combined with Lessard’s win, the gap between the two championship rivals is large enough that Lessard could conceivably clinch the series championship with a solid run at Hickory on October 29. Hickory is where Lessard captured his first series triumph in May, yet Setzer calls the track his home field since he lives just minutes from the facility.


The CARS Tour is the perfect place to try “new things” for drivers and Saturday’s race was on of those occasions. BJ Mackey made a return to the driver’s seat in the late model stock side, racing his own house-built chassis for the first time and finishing sixth. On the super late model side, Chad McCumbee made his first laps in a super late model after arriving Saturday morning from Circuit of the Americas where he was working with the Mazda road racing program. McCumbee led laps in his first SLM start and finished tenth.

The finishes:


CARS Late Model Stock Tour - BakerDist.com/Honeywell 200 presented by Sports Radio 100.3 The Team - Myrtle Beach Speedway - September 17, 2016


1. 99 Raphael Lessard 100
2. 56 Gus Dean 100
3. 55 Dalton Sargeant 100
4. 54 Matt Craig 100
5. 58 Tyler Ankrum 100
6. 98m Jody Measmer 100
7. 51 Todd Gilliland 100
8. 8 Tate Fogleman 100
9. 67 Clay Jones 100
10. 16c Chad McCumbee 100
11. 66 Steve Wallace 100
12. 7k Jody Lavender 100
13. 16 Lucas Jones 100
14. 97 Chase Purdy 100
15. 5 Korbin Forrister 100
16. 49 Jeff Batten 100
17. 98n Hannah Newhouse 100
18. 6 Brandon Setzer 99

CARS Late Model Stock Tour - BakerDist.com/Honeywell 200 presented by Sports Radio 100.3 The Team - Myrtle Beach Speedway - September 17, 2016
1. 88b Josh Berry 100
2. 27 Tommy Lemons 100
3. 20 Sam Yarbrough 100
4. 1 Christian Eckes 100
5. 08 Deac McCaskill 100
6. 98m BJ Mackey 100
7. 88t Robert Tyler 100
8. 7 Justin Crider 100
9. 12 Austin McDaniel 100
10. 99 Layne Riggs 100
11. 41 Haley Moody 100
12. 98 Stefan Parsons 100
13. 28 Chris Hudspeth 100
14. 74 Ronald Hill 100
15. 5 Stephen Leicht 100
16. 23 Zachary Dabbs 100
17. 88 Chris Davis 100
18. 31 Thomas Beane 99
19. 42 Craig Stallard 84 Mechanical
20. 8 Trevor Rizzo 63 Exhaust
21. 5b Bryant Barnhill 50 Mechanical

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