Tire Choice Lifts McCarter In 602 Late Model Duel

McCarter

Pierce McCarter in victory lane Saturday at Volusia Speedway Park. (Jim DenHamer photo)

BARBERVILLE, Fla. – With two laps to go in Saturday’s 602 Late Model feature at Volusia Speedway Park, Pierce McCarter hoped he made the right decision putting on a harder right rear tire.

The decision paid off for him, as McCarter rose from third to first on the final restart to win the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals finale.

Roling, the pole sitter, led the field to the green in the 20-lap feature, distancing himself from the rest of the field. But just as the Clay Hill, Fla., driver looked destined to earn a home-state triumph, a caution with two laps to go changed his fortune.

When the race resumed, Roling went to the bottom of the track, hoping to take the checkered flag. But he left the top open for McCarter, who thundered past Mario Gresham for second in turn two and carried his momentum around Roling in turns three and four, taking the lead as the white flag waved.

From there, McCarter separated himself from Roling’s No. 515, holding on to win the 602 Late Model main event and the overall Sunshine Nationals championship for the division.

The Pigeon Forge, Tenn., driver said he had a harder tire than everyone else up front and knew it would be the difference in scoring the $3,000 prize.

“I watched Michael Courtney run the top a couple of times, and I had a harder right rear tire than everybody else,” McCarter said. “I knew once that got heated, I knew I could stick right there in the middle of that black. And I said, ‘Hell, might as well try it.’

“It stuck right through there, and it was great.”

Along with the tire, McCarter said he felt the yellow flags finally broke his way after losing the lead in Friday’s qualifying feature in a similar fashion.

“I feel like cautions cost me [Friday],” McCarter said. “And earlier on in my heat race, they cost me. But we’ll take it tonight.”

Roling settled for second after leading the first 18 laps of the feature. However, unlike McCarter, Roling said his tire started fading toward the end of the race.

“I felt like my right rear tire was going away,” Roling said. “Restarts really killed me. I felt like if it had stayed green, it would’ve been alright. We had a pretty big gap. But yeah, my right rear tire. I felt it sliding, and I couldn’t get through the corner as straight as I wanted to.”

Gresham crossed the line third, Chase Blackwell finished fourth, and Chaz Haskins rounded out the top five.

The finish:

602 Late Model Feature (20 laps): 1. 71-Pierce McCarter [7]; 2. 515-Bubba Roling [2]; 3. 21-Mario Gresham [1]; 4. 6-Chase Blackwell [8]; 5. 107Z-Chaz Haskins [13]; 6. 28L-Austin Leamon [12]; 7. 53-Brandon Yates [5]; 8. 131-Matt Herlong [11]; 9. 5-Curtis Thomas [10]; 10. 8-Zack Owens [23]; 11. 27-Tim Ryan [9]; 12. 109-Nick Johnson [3]; 13. 31-Donnie Birdwell [24]; 14. C4-Devin Whatley [21]; 15. 1J-Jason Papp [22]; 16. 11S-Quentin Steedley [27]; 17. 71C-Davy Cline [25]; 18. 17SR-Brody Smith [17]; 19. 12C-Chase Giddens [26]; 20. 9-Dalton Peavy [16]; 21. 2B-Robert Brynteson [28]; 22. 19-Michael Courtney [4]; 23. 3K-Kale VanSickle [18]; 24. 14S-Brian Scott [19]; 25. 66-Taylor Cole [14]; 26. 15-Nevin Gainey [6]; 27. 611-Koulten Herbert [15]; 28. 27G-Matt Grable [20].

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