Chad McCumbee in victory lane at Hickory Motor Speedway. (photo from the CARS tour)
HICKORY, NC — The two winners of Saturday night’s Tuff Shed 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway each had the privilege of earning their first victory on the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour.
Chad McCumbee and William Sawalich, who won the last features of model stock and professional models respectively, also took the poles ahead of Saturday’s track action and both had to survive strong difficulties in the final laps.
The similarities between the two end there, as Sawalich’s career is just beginning in full-bodied production cars, while McCumbee’s extensive motor racing background includes experience in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series.
Despite numerous successes in the last model stock competitions, such as a victory in the Myrtle Beach 400 in 2018, a victory on the CARS Tour had always eluded McCumbee since his first start in 2015.
McCumbee used his experience at the abrasive Myrtle Beach to properly save his tires from pole position, allowing him to take advantage of late contact between Carson Kvapil and Layne Riggs so he could finally break through for that elusive first win.
“It depended on how the racetrack went tonight,” McCumbee said. “[The sealer] started going up from the bottom and it really helped the top on restarts. Our car needed laps and every restart we needed a few laps to start. When we were positioned inside, it just wasn’t beneficial to us, but the [sealer] helped me get that upward momentum.
After leading the first 80 laps with minimal issues, McCumbee expected to lose the lead once the fast cars stopped being conservative.
Riggs was the first to pass McCumbee on a restart with 49 laps to go passing him on the top side. McCumbee would then be blocked by Conner Jones a few restarts later, allowing Kvapil to pass him for second and target Riggs up front.
The two talented young riders fought a fierce battle for the lead until Kvapil made light contact with Riggs while trying to block him at turn four. This gave McCumbee the opening he needed to regain the lead and pull away in the closing laps.
“It was a good tough race,” McCumbee said. “These guys [at McCumbee-Elliott Racing] were the ones who kept me in it. I thought we were done but as these long races progressed I realized it was still in contention so I have to thank the good Lord for getting us here and hopefully we can maintain this momentum.
Riggs hoped he would come out on the right side of his fierce battle with Kvapil and McCumbee for the win at Hickory.
“I just needed a little better car,” Riggs said. “Chad [McCumbee] did a smart run and saved a bit more than us. We were bumping and grinding on this latest reboot and we were pushed against the wall a bit. I hated it, but it was a great race for us, our car is one piece and the program is improving a lot.
Kvapil was doing everything possible to engage in a clean and competitive race with Riggs and McCumbee, but admitted qualifying ultimately determined which of the three would celebrate at the end of the night.
“We were really done by the end,” Kvapil said. “I thought we were in good shape towards the end of the race but I started 13th and Chad [McCumbee] was in the first row. Passing 12 more people than him just killed the tires. Didn’t want to drive into Riggs but we had a fast car. We just didn’t have enough in the end.
The second place finish served to increase Kvapil’s lead over the rest of the CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour after opening the 2022 season by earning a $30,000 paycheck at the Old North State Nationals at Caraway Speedway.
Sawalich managed to keep his car out of trouble to finish fourth on his CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour debut.
Just hours earlier, Sawalich had to fend off a strong charge from Caden Kvapil at the end of the 100-lap CARS Pro Late Model circuit to record his first victory behind the wheel of a car prepared by Dennis and Brandon Setzer.
“I have to thank all my guys,” Sawalich said. “Although it was certainly not easy, everything was in order. It was great to get my first CARS Tour victory in Hickory because this place is so special to Brandon and Dennis Setzer. I just can’t wait for the other races to come.
The event was broadcast live by CARSTour.tv.
Chad McCumbee, Carson Kvapil, Layne Riggs, William Sawalich, Chase Burrow, Brandon Pierce, Kaden Honeycutt, Bobby McCarty, Andrew Grady, Carter Langley, Janson Marchbanks, Mason Diaz, Trevor Ward, Justin Johnson, Connor Hall, Conner Jones, Hayden Swank , Dylan Ward, Chase Dixon, Taylor Satterfield, Braden Rogers, Colby Higgins, Zack Miracle, Jacob Heafner, Mike Looney, Jonathan Shafer, Mike Darne