Cole Rouse & Josh Berry Remembered As Winners During CARS Tour Race To Remember 250by Press Release August 27, 2017
CONCORD, N.C. – During a night dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers and first responders from the region, Cole Rouse and Josh Berry were remembered by departing fans as winners during the Race To Remember 250 at Concord Speedway on Saturday night. Both drivers improved their championship hopes with the victories with one race remaining in the series schedule.
SUPER LATE MODEL RECAP
Preston Peltier stole the Mahle Pistons Pole Award with his last-minute qualifying effort during Fivestar Bodies Knockout Qualifying, earning him the right to lead the field to the green flag. He set the pace for only two circuits until Cole Rouse took over the point and led from lap 3 until lap 36.
On a lap 37 restart, former series champion Cole Timm snagged the point from fellow Toyota driver Rouse but he also was only there for a short time until Rouse retook the top spot on lap 43.
A caution for debris on lap 79 set up a restart with Peltier, who had been stalking Rouse most of the race, alongside of the No. 51 as the field came to green. A former winner at Concord throughout the years in various sanctions, Peltier motored his way around Rouse two laps after the restart, visibly using more than others had in order to keep the point.
Tyler Ankrum’s car lost a hub on lap 93 and pounded the turn two wall, an accident which allowed Rouse another shot at Peltier on the restart. Sideways and using more track than Rouse, Peltier was able to hold the point until the waning laps of the event when Rouse began to up the pressure on the No. 33 of Peltier.
The pair dueled side-by-side for a handful of laps before Rouse used the bumper to move Peltier, skating through to take the lead with only five laps to go. He proceeded to pull away to his second career series win, a victory which vaulted him from second into the top spot in the point standings going into the South Boston finale on October 14.
Peltier, Christian Eckes, Matt Wallace and Matt Craig rounded out the top five finishers in one of the most competitive super late model races the tour has seen at Concord’s half-mile layout.
“What was going through my head was that it was going to be the last lap when, if I wasn’t already past him, I was just going to have to hit him and move him,” Rouse admitted in victory lane. “I had to do it for these guys, we’ve had so many taken away from us this year, so I’m really happy for these guys and that we could get it done today.
“He started to fall off a bit, so once I got past him I wasn’t really worried since we were about 10 car lengths past him,” he continued when asked about the move to get the lead and its championship implications. “South Boston wasn’t on our schedule, but we’re going to have to make it part of our schedule now. We’ll be happy to get there, and it’ll be a new racetrack.”
LATE MODEL STOCK CAR RECAP
The final box score of the late model stock car feature may make the race look tame, but from the moments prior to the green flag, it was anything but calm.
Deac McCaskill captured his ninth career Hedgecock Racing Pole Award, moving his series-leading record ahead by another mark. Following qualifying, however, McCaskill and team discovered a leaking tire on his machine, forcing the team to change it and placing him to the rear of the field by series rules.
By virtue of his cousin’s misfortune, Bradley McCaskill led the field to green alongside of Josh Berry. Both former winners at Concord, McCaskill shot out to the early race lead and set the pace until a lap 54 caution for a spin immediately in front of him in turn two.
Berry gave McCaskill fits on the ensuing restart, ultimately passing the No. 07 car for the lead on lap 58 after a side-by-side fight in front of the healthy crowd at Concord. Berry’s teammate and championship rival Anthony Alfredo was involved in an incident in turn one which brought out the second caution in a rash of yellow fever on lap 69, setting up another restart with McCaskill beside Berry.
Josh Berry kept the lead on the restart, but two laps later McCaskill and Justin Carroll made contact entering turn three, sending McCaskill for a spin which ultimately collected a number of other cars and appeared to eliminate the No. 07 from the event after hard contact by Evan Swilling squarely on the rear end. Miraculously, McCaskill was able to continue while Swilling was finished for the night.
After five additional cautions between laps 76 and 113, the race came down to a 12-lap shootout with Berry leading and young Brandon Grosso, with Deac McCaskill and others immediately behind. Exercising his veteran prowess, Berry executed another flawless restart to assert himself as the dominant car.
The JR Motorsports driver cruised to his 12th career series win by 1.018 seconds over Grosso, McCaskill, Tommy Lemons and Cody Haskins. The victory allowed Berry to bypass teammate Alfredo in the standings and close to within single digits of Layne Riggs entering the season finale on October 14 at South Boston Speedway.
“It’s so tough, I can’t put it into words how tough it is on those restarts and you see it on Sunday,” Berry admitted after the race in Edelbrock Victory Lane. “Nine out of ten restarts you can be perfect, but the one that you don’t is the one that everyone remembers you for, so I was just trying to be perfect and do my job. We had a great racecar. I wasn’t sure how good we were going to be, but it obviously paid off. Deac had trouble before the race, and I know he would’ve been tough to beat, but that’s how it goes.
“He’s young and hungry, and I’ve been in that situation, so at that point whatever would’ve happened, I wouldn’t have been surprised,” he continued when asked about Brandon Grosso and his career-best run immediately behind him. “He raced me clean and raced me hard, but he’s improved a lot over the season and his day is coming, for sure.”
While the race win was the story of the night, Berry and the JR Motorsports team were already thinking down the road.
“Last week at Hickory wasn’t good for us in the point situation, but I’m not going to go down without a fight,” he reiterated to those in attendance. “We’re going to keep after it, we’re going to work hard, and we’re going to be ready at South Boston. South Boston is a wild card. I haven’t raced there since it’s been repaved, but I have won there on the old pavement. It’s going to be a totally different animal. We proved tonight we’re not going away and those guys are going to have to run good to beat us because we’re going to be up front.”
The CARS Tour visits South Boston Speedway on October 14 for the series finale, the first time the tour has visited the facility. Located just north of Orange County Speedway, the recently repaved .400-mile oval will host both divisions in the SoBo 250 in six weeks’ time.
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Source: CARS Tour
Photo Credit: Alexandra Bijowski / CARS Tour