CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The CARS Tour will discontinue its super late model division in favor of a new pro late model class beginning next season.
The CARS Tour, which was born from the ashes of the Pro Cup Series once owned by late Hooters owner Robert Brooks, has sanctioned the super late model and late model stock car divisions since the series was rebranded in 2015.
While the late model stock car class continues to thrive, the super late model division has been struggling to draw cars for the last two seasons. As a result, CARS Tour owner Jack McNelly said the time was right to do away with the super late model class.
“It’s just a numbers thing,” McNelly said. “As you know very well, I suffered through several very tough years with the Pro Cup (Series) and I made myself a promise that I would never do that again. Last year and this year the numbers have dropped off significantly in the super late model division and I am not going to go any further with them.”
In eight races last season, the highest car count for the super late model class was 34 during the All-American 400 at Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway that was co-sanctioned by the ARCA/CRA Super Series and Southern Super Series.
The highest car count for a standalone CARS Tour super late model event last year was 16 at Hickory (N.C) Motor Speedway. The numbers haven’t gotten any better, with the highest car counts coming at multi-sanctioned event. The best car count at a standalone CARS Tour super late model race this year was 14 at Hickory on March 20.
The seventh and final CARS Tour super late model champion will be crowned Oct. 16 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Matt Craig leads the standings by eight points over Carson Kvapil entering the finale.
Cole Timm won the inaugural title in 2015, with Raphael Lessard, Cole Rouse, Jared Fryar and two-time and defending series champion Craig also earning championships.
Despite the loss of the super late models, McNelly believes it is important to continue to sanction two divisions and felt the introduction of a pro late model class was an ideal addition to the CARS Tour portfolio.
“When we go to these tracks, we can’t have one race,” McNelly said. “When we go to Hickory for the Throwback (276) or whatever, you can’t just put on one race and leave and go home. I think we have to have two events. Some tracks will buy our show of one race and then they add some of their local races to that. But if we’re going to go to Hickory or we’re going to go to Tri-County or we’re going to go to Motor Mile and we’re the only thing going on, we have to have two divisions.”
The CARS Tour pro late model class will be the second pro late model series in the region, joining the Carolina Pro Late Model Series. McNelly said he has no plans to compete with the Carolina Pro Late Model Series, which is owned and promoted by Keith Graham.
“He and I have talked about it,” McNelly said of Graham. “We’re going to run two completely different programs. My program is going to be by the rules that they carry down in Montgomery, Nashville (and) Pensacola.”
Schedules for both the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and CARS Pro Late Model Tour will be announced during the season finale at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 16, with additional details coming later.