HICKORY, N.C. — On a night that could not be classified as anything other than a massive success, Tate Fogleman and Justin Carroll were the biggest winners of all.
Fogleman used the bumper to clear Matt Craig, and Carroll came out on top in a three-wide battle with Austin McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo to win the Super Late Model and Late Model features at Hickory Motor Speedway in the CARS Tour Throwback 276 on Saturday night.
This event was the first of its kind for the CARS Tour: a throwback weekend for their pair of series, akin to what Darlington Raceway has done in recent seasons, with many cars and drivers from the past honored throughout the field.
In attendance at the event were NASCAR Hall of Famer and Hickory native Ned Jarrett, fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram, four-time Goody’s Dash Series champion Robert Huffman, and “Mr. September” Harry Gant, among others.
There were paint schemes ranging from late model days of Dennis Setzer to Days of Thunder‘s famous antagonist, Rowdy Burns, but it was Sam Ard and Dick Trickle who had their colors along for the ride in victory lane at the end of the evening, riding along the cars of Fogleman and Carroll.
The SLM feature went caution free and was largely clean from flag to flag. Though Matt Craig led the field from the pole for the first 100 laps, Fogleman was never too far behind. He spent the first 30 laps feeling out his car, and waited until lap 112 to make his move. At that point, Craig got loose while working lapped traffic in Turn 2, and Fogleman was able to drive past the No. 54 and led the rest of the way.
After the race, Fogleman was proud to honor Ard with his paint scheme. “It means a lot to me to win here tonight. My dad worked for (Ard) after Sam had his injury, and my dad drove for him later on,” Fogleman said. “He was close to my dad and my dad looked up to him and he’s a guy that I look up to too.”
The LMSC feature, on the other hand, was much more eventful. In addition to the 138 scheduled laps run under green, nine cautions were thrown during the race for a total of 69 laps, and two red flags were thrown to slow the race by over 30 minutes.
Layne Riggs was the one who controlled the start of the race as the pole sitter, and he led the first 58 laps of the race. However, those 58 laps were spread out over four separate cautions. The first caution came out when Evan Swilling was turned around in Turn 2 by the No. 51 of Robert Tyler. The field quickly re-racked for the restart, but race control waved off the first attempt after Ryan Repko was judged to have left the restart zone too early.
After the third caution came out for Craig Moore’s solo spin in Turn 4, the most significant caution flag of the race came out on lap 27. Ty Gibbs started third in the race, but suffered for power up until that point, and his struggles ended when the motor underneath the No. 11 expired entering Turn 3. That laid down a trail of oil in the corner, which caused all of Chris Hudspeth, Landon Huffman, Stefan Parsons and Evan Swilling to spin. The first two drivers drove away from the scene of the accident, but Parsons and Swilling were pinned up against the wall and saw their nights end early.
CARS Tour crews spent 26 minutes cleaning up the oil from Gibbs’ car under a red flag. Once the field went back under green, Carroll’s car really began to shine.
After restarting in fourth, he jumped around Austin McDaniel on lap 38 and Ryan Repko on lap 52 to go to second, using the inside line of the race track better than anyone else in the field. Six laps later, Riggs succumbed to the N0. 90, and Carroll went to the front for the first time all evening.
Once out of the lead, Riggs’ held on to second for 30 laps before his car began to fade. Repko cleared him for second on lap 82, and McDaniel went to third six laps later.
The 65-lap long green flag run finally ended on lap 92, when Tommy Lemons got into the wall on the back straight. The next restart was short-lived as well, as Anthony Alfredo got into the back of Cody Haskins in Turn 3 on lap 94.
The next caution came out before the field could even make it back to Turn 1. Jared Fryar spun his tires from fifth, and the field stacked up behind him. Fryar, along with Josh Berry and Riggs, suffered heavy damage to his car. All three drivers were out of contention for the win from that point on.
Five laps later, Carroll spun his tires on the restart and McDaniel came around the outside to take the lead. New players came in behind Carroll at that point in the race, with Dexter Canipe, Jr. and Justin Johnson entering the top five at this stage. They stayed up there until lap 111, when engine trouble forced Johnson to retire from third.
The final restart came with 27 laps to go, and Repko lost his chance at victory when he spun the tires from third place. Canipe was held up behind him and that allowed Alfredo to jump around both of them and get to third, behind Carroll and McDaniel.
From there, it was side-by-side racing for the next 23 laps, with McDaniel holding the lead from the outside lane while Carroll tried to go underneath him with Alfredo close behind. The desperation levels crept higher and higher as the race reached its conclusion, as Carroll tried to give McDaniel the bumper in Turn 3 multiple times to uproot the No. 12 out of the way. At points, Alfredo was able to get underneath Carroll and make it a three-wide battle for portions of the closing laps.
Carroll was finally successful in Turn 3 on lap 134, when he finally moved McDaniel out of the way to get the lead. He closed out the final four laps of the race in front for his first-ever victory in the CARS Tour.
It was a joyous scene in victory lane for Carroll, who carried the same famous red, teal and black scheme of the Helig-Meyers car that Dick Trickle drove for Junie Donlavey in the late 1990s. “That was THE craziest race I’ve ever been a part of, and probably one of the best short track races that these fans have ever seen,” Carroll said in victory lane. “It doesn’t get much better than this! It’s throwback weekend and it’s definitely THE biggest win of my racing career.”
“I almost thought it was Dick Trickle driving this thing there in the last 15-20 laps. He’s got over 1,000 short track wins in late models and he was definitely riding there with me tonight. It was so cool to honor him and have his name on the car and the CARS Tour officials blew it out of the water with this event.”
Carroll capped off his night by pointing directly to the cigarette lighter installed on his dash, a nod to one of the most famous parts found on Trickle’s machine.
The next event for the CARS Tour takes place on Saturday, Aug. 26, when they travel to Concord Speedway for the Race to Remember 250.