“Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay it’s price.”Sun Tzu
In any sport, there are times when legacy moments present themselves and epic history can be made that will be remembered for many years to come. In those times, legends can and will be made. In 2024, the zMAX CARS Tour will enter into one of those epic moments. It’s a guarantee. And so in this article, we will discuss why the 2024 CARS Tour Late Model Stock title chase will be more than just another battle, it’ll be a war. We are aware that no one with any sense will throw the term war around lightly. So to defend it, we will explore three areas of expertise that will have to be mastered. These 3 elements of short track racing warfare will have to be executed flawlessly in what may be the most challenging on track feat in the history of Late Model Stock racing. We believe that even just one mistake in any of the three will cost even the best on the tour to be lost in the fray.
1) THE BATTLEFIELDS – (The Proving Grounds/2024 Track Schedule)
We talk all the time about how even though the past several years has seen a culling of sorts of stock car short tracks all over the country, at the same time the tracks that have survived are fueling a resurgence in the popularity of short track racing. The CARS Tour Late Model Stock division just so happens to compete in the region, the central east coast, where stock car short track racing’s roots are located. Fitting as it’s also the region where Late Model Stock racing was born. And so keeping to it’s roots itself, the CARS Tour always forms it’s schedule to represent the challenges the tracks in the region pose to the fullest extent. And so one of the first things you notice about the CARS Tour LMS schedule is the track diversity. From the quarter mile of Wake County Speedway nicknamed “America’s Favorite Bullring” to the “House Of Speed” Orange County Speedway. From the coast of the Carolinas to it’s foothills with New River All-American Speedway to Granite Falls’ Tri-County Speedway. From Virginia’s showcase tracks Langley Speedway, Dominion Raceway, and South Boston Speedway, to South Carolina’s Florence Motor Speedway. From one of the newest tracks in the region in Southern National Motorsports Park to one of the oldest in the nation in Hickory Motor Speedway, and even a track risen from the grave in the form of North Wilkesboro Speedway, these tracks each hold very unique and distinct qualities all their own. Drivers will have to manage one groove racing one week to multi-grooved racing the next. From grippy tracks to hot and loose, and then those who change completely from the beginning of the race to the end. In short, the tour has made it a point to challenge each of it’s competitors with a schedule that features tracks that can produce every challenge possible. In that set of challenges there will be no room for error. As 3 time CARS Tour Late Model Stock champion Bobby McCarty told us in a recent interview, “to win a CARS Tour Championship now, you’ll have to have an average finish of fourth or fifth…”. Accomplishing that however will take even more than just the driver’s skill, it’ll take tremendous work from the crew members of every team for every race of the challenging 17 race schedule.
2) THE ARMIES – (CARS Tour Late Model Stock Teams)
When hearing about the CARS Tour, what’s most mentioned is the tour’s driving talent. Truth be told though, that talent would not be on full display without the work of the CARS Tour teams who are simply some of the best short track stock car racing teams in the entire country. Their experience is immense to say the least. And to win a Championship on this series, you’ll not only need to have an amazing chemistry with your individual team, you’ll have to understand the psychology of the teams you compete against. Knowing your competition is extremely important for anyone who wants to find success against them.
For the past two years JR Motorsports has found itself on top with Carson Kvapil at the helm. Dale Earnhardt Jr has and continues to assemble a team that knows how to find victory lane, and with Bryan Shaffer as crew chief for leading the team into battle, the team is formidable to say the least. And what makes the team equally as deadly is the fact that the name Dale Earnhardt Jr, NASCAR’s most popular driver for several years running, draws in the resources that big name sponsorship can bring. Even with all of that however, the defending champions have not been entirely dominant as the past two championship runs have come down to the final legs of the season. Last year it was Lee Pulliam Performance on their heels. And if you’re privy to racing in this region, you also understand that Lee Pulliam knows about championships and how to win them and crew chief Doug Powers had first year CARS Tour full time driver Brenden Queen on the cusp of taking the title. The team with the most CARS Tour titles to date, Nelson Motorsports, has a new driver in 2023 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts National Champion Connor Hall, and the team under crew chief Matthew Eshleman made amazing advances in finding their championship form with last year’s Nelson Motorsports pilot Landon Huffman in his first full year of CARS Tour competition. This year Landon’s crew chief will be his father Robert Huffman, a former NASCAR Dash Series Champion, as Landon moves to the Jimmy Mooring Racing team.
And speaking of team championship experience, the Chad Bryant Racing Team with has a new driver this year in 2023 NASCAR Canada Series Champion Treyton Lapcevich. And the 2022 Florence Motor Speedway and 2023 Hickory Motor Speedway Champion Kade Brown will run his first full year on the tour with Matt Piercy Racing, carrying a ton of momentum into the 2024 season. The winningest CARS Tour Late Model Stock Champion Bobby McCarty carries his three time championship winning experience into his second season with Marcus Richmond and Steve Stallings’ owned R&S Race Cars with crew chief David Triplett Jr. calling the shots. And to top off the level of competition the team will bring to the table this year, veteran Deac McCaskill will join the team as teammate to McCarty, bringing with him one of the best winning percentages on the tour. And in a surprising announcement to many, one of the winningest super late model drivers in the country, 2017 and 2020 Southern Super Series champion Stephen Nasse brings the Stephen Nasse Racing team to the tour for a full CARS Tour Late Model Stock Series run with crew chief Chase Pistone in 2024. We could literally write a whole article on the teams that compete on this tour but we think you get the picture. There is no lack of talent or experience in the garages that will field cars on the tour this year, and as we stated above, one mistake could get you sent home from any event on the schedule and put an immediate death nail in your championship hopes’ coffin.
3) THE KNIGHTS – (The Drivers)
Ultimately however, the championship will be determined on the track by those who will go into battle with the full armor of a professionally prepared CARS Tour Late Model Stock. And it will be determined by how you fair in battle on any given race day against the very best in the nation. You will have to ride on the confidence of your abilities and the preparation of your team and execute with flawless precision. And besides the drivers we mentioned above, Carson Kvapil, Brenden Queen, Bobby McCarty, Connor Hall, Deac McCaskill, Landon Huffman, newcomers Kade Brown, Treyton Lapcevich, and Stephen Nasse,… that’s just the beginning of the challenges. Names like Brandon Pierce, Jacob Heafner, and Ronnie Bassett Jr come to mind. ARCA winner and Trans Am Champion Brent Crews, 2023 Martinsville ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Trevor Ward also. Self funded drivers like Ryan Millington and champion drivers from across the country like Colorado National Speedway Super Late Model Champion Cody Dempster. In short, and we don’t say this lightly, the 2024 zMAX CARS Tour driver roster is the greatest lineup of Late Model Stock drivers ever assembled as a whole. All waiting for you to make a mistake to get an advantage. Bumper to bumper, fender to fender, wheel to wheel, for 17 races. Over 2,000 laps of the steepest competition a Late Model Stock driver has ever faced. History at stake. Bobby McCarty could become the first ever three time champ, while Carson Kvapil could become the first three time consecutive champion and tie for all time with three. You could very easily see a first time CARS Tour Late Model Stock Champion as well. But what we guarantee, is that the 2024 CARS Tour Late Model Stock championship run will be a series of battles on the short track proving grounds that have seen many, and it will be nothing short of a war. To be the 2024 zMAX CARS Tour Champion will take nothing less than that, we promise you.