Justin Johnson during qualifying Sunday at Orange County Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)
Justin Johnson during qualifying Sunday at Orange County Speedway. (Jacob Seelman photo)

Johnson Nabs Pole For Old North State Nationals

ROUGEMONT, N.C. – Justin Johnson led a banner day for his eponymous late model team by earning the Hedgecock Racing Pole Award for the Puryear Tank Lines Old North State Nationals on Sunday.

Johnson toured the three-eighths-mile, semi-banked oval in 14.081 seconds (95.874 mph) with his No. 44 Puryear Tank Lines-backed Chevrolet to lead a 28-car field for the $30,000-to-win, 200-lap feature.

It marked Johnson’s first career CARS Late Model Stock Tour pole in his 32nd start.

“This is a good start, but it’s just the first part of it,” Johnson told SPEED SPORT after qualifying. “We’ve got to keep the tires on it and be there at the end. That’s the biggest thing. It’s going to be a long race and I think we’ve got a really good car. It was a heck of a qualifying effort. All our guys are working so hard, to have three cars in the top 10 just speaks volumes for Marcus Richmond and everybody working on our deal … John West Racing Engines and R&S Race Cars.

“Being right here in my sponsor Puryear Tank Lines’ backyard and sitting on the pole is a big deal, but now we’re looking forward to hopefully taking home $30,000.”

Sunday’s qualifying session saw all three Justin Johnson Racing entries time inside the top 10, with short-track ace Bubba Pollard starting seventh and teenager Kaden Honeycutt rolling off 10th Sunday.

Johnson tipped that Pollard’s expertise with car setup has been valuable to his organization all week.

“I’m going to tell you that working with Bubba this weekend has been an absolute pleasure,” Johnson noted. “I told him [jokingly] Friday when we had a little down time that I’d lost a little respect for him as a driver because he’s so smart on the race car. He has really surprised me with how absolutely brilliant he is getting these things dialed in, as far as load numbers and everything like that.

“There’s a lot of guys that have some knowledge, but he’s made a difference for us, that’s for sure.”

Veteran Deac McCaskill will join Johnson on the front row, with Virginia’s Mike Looney and two-time series champion Bobby McCarty starting third and fourth, respectively.

NASCAR Xfinity Series part-timer Josh Berry, fresh off Saturday’s Ag Pro 300 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, qualified fifth ahead of Layne Riggs, Pollard, Sam Butler, Mason Diaz and Honeycutt.

Jonathan Shafer, who paced practice earlier in the day for Lee Pulliam Performance, starts 17th.

Sunday’s Old North State Nationals main even is slated for a 4 p.m. ET start, live on SPEED SPORT Network affiliate CARS Tour TV.

STARTING LINEUP: CARS Late Model Stock Tour; Orange County Speedway; April 25, 2021

  1. Justin Johnson
  2. Deac McCaskill
  3. Mike Looney
  4. Bobby McCarty
  5. Josh Berry
  6. Layne Riggs
  7. Bubba Pollard
  8. Sam Butler
  9. Mason Diaz
  10. Kaden Honeycutt
  11. Brandon Pierce
  12. Sammy Smith
  13. Mini Tyrrell
  14. Trevor Noles
  15. Jared Fryar
  16. William Cox III
  17. Jonathan Shafer
  18. Craig Moore
  19. Conner Jones
  20. Stephen Nasse
  21. Daniel Silvestri
  22. Sam Yarbrough
  23. Joe Valento
  24. Tyler Matthews
  25. Ronald Hill
  26. Jonathan Findley
  27. Camden Guillie
  28. Jessica Cann
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