NEWTON, N.C. – The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour will see its super late model division kick off the season this weekend as part of the MTP Tire 250 presented by Cloer Construction at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Saturday’s racing program at the historic .363-mile short track will mark the first of two stops at Hickory for the CARS Tour this season.
Leading the charge for the CARS Super Late Model Tour will be two-time defending champion Matt Craig, who is seeking an unprecedented third consecutive title this season.
Craig will be back in his familiar CNC Boiler No. 54, participating in each of the series’ eight scheduled super late model events this year. He’ll be one of 15 drivers in the Hickory super late model field.
The Kannapolis, N.C., native is a three-time CARS Super Late Model Tour winner at Hickory.
Expected to challenge Craig for the series crown this year are CARS Tour veteran Kodie Conner, back for another year in his self-owned No. 45; and longtime veteran Jeff Batten, with the possibility of others.
The super late models will contest a 100-lap feature Saturday evening, part of a move to some shorter-length races for the division this year, with a single-tire change option during the race.
The top four qualifiers will have the option to drop to the rear of the field for bonus money if they can win or get back to a top-four finish, with additional bonus money on tap for those drivers who elect to run the sealed crate engine option that is permitted this year in the super late model class.
While the super late models are opening their CARS Tour campaign this weekend at Hickory, it will mark the second round of the season for the late model stock division.
Justin Johnson won the CARS Late Model Stock Tour opener at Dillon (S.C.) Motor Speedway on March 6 after making a last-lap, last-corner pass of Layne Riggs for the victory.
Johnson leads the late model stock point standings entering Hickory, where he has a best finish of fifth, earned in 2017 during the second race of a twin-75 format at The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.
Though the last five CARS Late Model Stock Tour races at Hickory have produced five different winners, only Bobby McCarty – the most recent of those five and a two-time series champion – will be part of the field on Saturday with a shot to duplicate his victory.
Those looking to deny Johnson and McCarty include Riggs, who has never won at Hickory, as well as Jonathan Shafer, Jack Wood, Sam Butler, Joe Valento and Johnson’s teammate Kaden Honeycutt.
William Cox III is driving JR Motorsports’ iconic No. 88 Chevrolet this season, looking to deliver the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned organization its series-leading sixth CARS Tour late model stock win at Hickory.
Saturday’s broadcast kicks off at 5:45 p.m. ET.