HICKORY, N.C. – For the second time in a matter of hours, a race at Hickory Motor Speedway was determined by a matter of inches on Saturday night.
This time it was during a CARS Late Model Stock Tour main event, which saw Bobby McCarty survive a late-race challenge from Tyler Mathews to earn his first victory of the young season by .025 seconds.
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour feature followed the CARS Super Late Model Tour opener earlier in the evening, which saw Carson Kvapil beat Matt Craig by .010 seconds in another photo finish.
You wanted a photo finish? The @CARSTour gave you TWO on Saturday at @hickoryspeedway! Check out the finish to Saturday’s nightcap late model stock car feature and if you missed the race, head to https://t.co/xMQJz9yaSo to watch it on demand! pic.twitter.com/F73GlY3Jo9
— SPEED SPORT TV (@speedsporttv) March 21, 2021
Initially it appeared it would be a battle between Mike Looney and McCarty for the victory in CARS Late Model Stock Tour feature. Looney took the lead on lap 64 and pulled away to half a straightaway lead over the rest of the pack.
McCarty, who spent more than half of the race conserving his tires, set off in pursuit of Looney after taking second on lap 97. He was able to catch Looney in traffic, but disaster soon struck for Looney after he was involved in an incident with Jonathan Shafer that heavily damaged the nose on Looney’s car.
With Looney forced to pit during the ensuing caution to repair the damaged nose on his car, McCarty inherited the race lead. When racing resumed McCarty shot out into the lead and tried to pull away, but Mathews suddenly appeared on the scene after taking second on lap 136.
Mathews began closing in on McCarty, but with laps clicking away it appeared he wouldn’t have enough time to catch McCarty. That changed when the caution flag waved on lap 147 when Jessica Cann and Jack Wood crashed in turn four.
That set up a three-lap dash to the checkered flag, with McCarty initially getting the lead ahead of Mathews. However, Mathews stayed glued to the bottom and with each lap he inched closer to McCarty.
Coming to the white flag Mathews was right on McCarty’s bumper and was able to get alongside him on the final lap. Coming around to the checkered flag McCarty narrowly held the advantage to beat Mathews to the checkered flag.
“I knew Tyler was coming, but I felt pretty confident that I could hold him off,” McCarty said. “That caution came out and I was like, ‘Dude, that is the last we really needed.’
“I didn’t want to go to the bottom because I knew he could bump me sooner,” McCarty continued. “With the way this place wears tires out it doesn’t take much to get you up and out of the throttle. I ran the top and it worked out for us. He raced me clean. I really appreciate that. He could have done what he had to do to win the race and he raced me clean. It was close.”
Mathews fell just short of his first CARS Late Model Stock Tour victory, but was still smiling after the race.
“We were catching him right there under green,” Mathews explained. “It was one of those cautions that you hate to see but you love to see, because you know you definitely have an opportunity. That restart, just pinning us down on the bottom and it took us a little bit opened up and run him back down and get back to his bumper.
“It’s a great confidence booster going into Orange County. I really feel like we’ve got a good race program. Made some really good strides out of today.”
Sam Butler finished third, followed by Deac McCaskill and Daniel Silvestri.
Bobby McCarty, Tyler Mathews, Sam Butler, Deac McCaskill, Daniel Silvestri, Jonathan Findley, Mini Tyrrell, William Cox III, Kaden Honeycutt, Justin Johnson, Jared Fryar, Brandon Pierce, Mike Looney, Justin Carroll, Joe Valento, Sam Yarbrough, Jonathan Shafer, Layne Riggs, Chase Dixon, Jack Wood, Jessica Cann, Mason Diaz, Conner Jones, Matt Leicht.