Craig, Lessard And Alfredo Score Hickory CARS Victories

Raphael Lessard (99) and Brandon Setzer (6) battle during the first Super Late Model feature of Saturday’s CARS Racing Series event at Hickory Motor Speedway. Photo by Sherri Stearns

Saturday night’s CARS Racing Tour event at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway was anything but predictable.

With a pairs of duels for both the Super Late Model and Late Model Stock divisions, Raphael Lessard and Matt Craig split the Super Late Model features, while Anthony Alfredo took both Late Model Stock victories.

In the first Super Late Model feature, Brandon Setzer captured his second consecutive pole award in qualifying and led the field to green. Setzer ran away early before Tate Fogleman chased him down for the race lead. Fogleman completed the pass on lap 53.

An incident involving Setzer and defending series champion Raphael Lessard on lap 62 brought out the first and only caution flag of the race, with Tate Fogleman as the leader. Fogleman restarted alongside of Craig, who won the drag race to turn one at the green flag and led lap 63.

Craig and Fogleman raced side by side for the final handful of laps until Craig emerged as the victor.

“I don’t know what happened to bring out the caution, but it was a great gift for us,” Craig said. “We were passing a few cars and once we got by the 16, we figured we should just ride and save our tires for the next race. Then we had that caution, and I’ll take anyone who wants to start inside of me on a restart. I’ll take the outside all night long.

“Tate’s a great racecar driver and he knew exactly what to do which was wait towards the end,” he continued. “He knew if I got back behind him it wasn’t going to be a good story for him. We battled him on the outside, it was a good race, and I really hope the fans enjoyed it.”

In the second duel, Craig took advantage of a front row starting spot to lead the opening five laps before Setzer made his way to the lead on lap 6. Craig powered back to the point a lap later and continued to set the pace until Lessard motored to the lead on lap 31.

A pair of mid-race cautions set up restarts, where Lessard was nearly collected in an incident with Fogleman but both continued. As the race wound down, Fogleman once again factored into the finish, reeling in Lessard. Fogleman made contact with Lessards’s back bumper as they raced off of turn four. The contact sucked the cars together, causing Fogleman’s car to jump off the track and resulting in substantial damage for both cars, although they were able to continue.

Though substantial, Lessard’s damage was merely cosmetic and not enough to hamper his run to the checkers. He cruised to victory over Cole Rouse, who passed Fogleman in the final few laps for second.

“I can’t thank David Gilliland Racing enough because they work very hard every weekend and worked hard to fix my car after the first race,” Lessard said. “I knew Tate was fast, but I did what I had to do and I can’t thank everyone at Toyota and DGR enough. I just drove after the incident, but (spotter) Seth (Smith) did tell me about it. It was what it was, I’m just happy to be in victory lane.”

In the first Late Model Stock feature, Josh Berry captured another pole award during qualifying and started the first duel from the pole position. From there, he quickly jumped out to an early lead. It was a dominating performance by Berry until his engine let go on lap 56 in spectacular fashion, billowing smoke and flames from underneath of his Chevrolet.

Austin McDaniel inherited the lead and appeared to be en route to his first career series win until the final ten laps when Anthony Alfredo began to him reel in. McDaniel gave Alfredo the inside line, and Alfredo took full advantage of McDaniel’s generosity. For multiple laps, the pair raced side-by-side until Alfredo solidified himself as the leader with just a pair of laps to go before cruising to his first career win.

“I knew we had a good car from the start, and Josh and Austin got way ahead of us,” Alfredo said. “The caution came out since Josh blew a motor, and I felt terrible about that, but that caution got us back up to the front. I thought we’d be able to get rolling better on the outside, but I kind of rode with him there and started to change up my line a bit and I was able to get under him. That was good racing and the hardest I’ve ever fought, for sure, and it was a blast.”

Berry was scheduled to start the second duel from the pole, but given his engine woes, he was forced to start at the rear of the field following an engine change. His misfortune once again allowed McDaniel to lead the field to green.

An early caution for a spin by Chris Davis restacked the field, but nothing changed at the front of the field as McDaniel led the next 63 laps. With ten laps to go, Alfredo once again emerged as a challenger to McDaniel, as the two swapped the lead multiple times while Berry closed in.

Alfredo took the lead for good on lap 69 while Berry worked by McDaniel for second with two laps to go.

“I knew I was working with the best team in the business and it was only a matter of time before we got a win together,” Alfredo said. “I thought before it was pretty early to get a win and that’s awesome, we could build on it. To do it again in the same night, two wins in one night already this year is just crazy. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous about how the tires were and racing with Austin as hard we did.”

The CARS Tour next visits Bristol Motor Speedway as part of the US Short Track Nationals on May 19-21. For more information, visit CARSRacingTour.com.

CARS Racing Series
Hickory Motor Speedway – Newton, NC
Race Results – May 6, 2017

Super Late Model Race 1
1. 54 Matt Craig
2. 8 Tate Fogleman
3. 16 Lucas Jones
4. 99 Raphael Lessard
5. 6 Brandon Setzer
6. 34 Nolan Pope
7. 37 Mike Speeney
8. 49 Jeff Batten
9. 7 Tyler Church
10. 1 Kodie Conner
11. 51 Cole Rouse
12. 15 Christian Eckes
13. 2 Trevor Noles

Super Late Model Race 2
1. 99 Raphael Lessard
2. 51 Cole Rouse
3. 8 Tate Fogleman
4. 6 Brandon Setzer
5. 16 Lucas Jones
6. 54 Matt Craig
7. 1 Kodie Conner
8. 49 Jeff Batten
9. 7 Tyler Church
10. 37 Mike Speeney
11. 34 Nolan Pope
12. 15 Christian Eckes
13. 2 Trevor Noles

Late Model Stock Race 1
1. 8A Anthony Alfredo
2. 12 Austin McDaniel
3. 08 Deac McCaskill
4. 98M B.J. Mackey
5. 75 Landon Huffman
6. 99 Layne Riggs
7. 23 Dexter Canipe, Jr.
8. 18S Evan Swilling
9. 32 Brandon Grosso
10. 81 Jared Fryar
11. 98 Stefan Parsons
12. 18G Ty Gibbs
13. 87 Hayden Woods
14. 42 Craig Stallard
15. 88 Chris Davis
16. 28 Chris Hudspeth
17. 4 Annabeth Barnes-Crum
18. 8 Trevor Rizzo
19. 74 Ronald Hill
20. 44 Justin Johnson
21. 88B Josh Berry
22. 1M Craig Moore
DNS: 16 R.D. Smith

Late Model Stock Race 2
1. 8A Anthony Alfredo
2. 88B Josh Berry
3. 12 Austin McDaniel
4. 08 Deac McCaskill
5. 44 Justin Johnson
6. 99 Layne Riggs
7. 98M B.J. Mackey
8. 32 Brandon Grosso
9. 42 Craig Stallard
10. 23 Dexter Canipe, Jr.
11. 75 Landon Huffman
12. 18G Ty Gibbs
13. 74 Ronald Hill
14. 88D Chris Davis
15. 28 Chris Hudspeth
16. 18S Evan Swilling
17. 4 Annabeth Barnes-Crum
18. 87 Hayden Woods
19. 98 Stefan Parsons
20. 8 Trevor Rizzo
21. 81 Jared Fryar
DNS: 1M Craig Moore
DNS: 16 R.D. Smith

 

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