Connor Hall makes practice laps Wednesday afternoon at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Grace Woelbing photo)

Hall Fires Off Strong With New Team On CARS Tour

When Connor Hall was growing up, he revered Nelson Motorsports — and team owner Barry Nelson — as the “Hendrick Motorsports” of the late model world.

Nelson’s team has won the late model stock car championship on the CARS Tour three times, in addition to collecting victories at NASCAR’s annual late model race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and other crown jewels throughout the Southeast.

It was a no-brainer for Hall to accept when he was offered a ride in Nelson’s signature, fluorescent-red No. 22 late model for this year’s CARS Tour campaign.

“I’ve always admired the program,” said Hall, who won last year’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series title. “I think it’s definitely different than what I’m used to, but I think it’s something that going forward, if I was able to get an opportunity at the next level, it’s the type of environment perhaps I need to be used to working in.”

The 26-year-old belongs to the wide segment of short-track drivers who are attempting to scratch and claw their way into the NASCAR world. But so far, Hall has had to make the most of his time as a late model guy.

Joining Nelson Motorsports at the beginning of the year felt like another step in the right direction.

The pair fired off strong at the season opener in March and have managed to stay fairly consistent over the last two months. Hall has control of the points lead as the CARS Tour heads to North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway for the sixth race of the year.

However, while the on-paper results look good, there’s still more to the story.

Hall blamed himself for the team’s fourth-place finish at New River All American Speedway, which was the second race of the season, admitting, “If I would’ve stopped barking orders and maybe just left the car alone, we would’ve had a better chance at winning. Kind of tuned myself out of that one.”

Race four at Orange County Speedway was also a struggle, but for a different reason.

“We had to pull a backup car out and just kind of had a myriad of issues that plagued us, and by the time we kind of realized what was happening, we burnt through the day,” Hall said. “Just trying to turn chicken stuff into chicken salad.”

He’s been around the scene long enough to know that every weekend won’t be butterflies and rainbows, so he’s decided that “grinding it out” with the team every week is what’s going to pay dividends in his championship chase.

With the tour only about 30-percent of the way through its 17-round season, there’s lots of racing left and plenty of potential mistakes that can be made.

“You can lose one a lot quicker than you can find a way to win one,” Hall said. “We’re just gonna keep our head to the grindstone and not really worry about the points and try to do our part weekly to make it possible.”

He finished fourth in the Window World 125 at North Wilkesboro last year and is hoping for another solid run, especially with the eyes of the NASCAR world fixated on the .625-mile track for the upcoming All-Star Race.

“All of us want our shot at the next level and I think this is our way to kind of be put on that platform and have that stadium per se,” Hall said. “To be able to race on a bigger surface, we’re dealing with different things that we normally don’t have to deal with at like an Ace Speedway or a Langley or a Hickory. I think it’s gonna be really, really cool.”