Though both legends of the sport have since passed on to the great racetrack in the sky, Sam Ard and Dick Trickle visited victory lane for presumably the final time on Saturday night during the CARS Tour Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway. Racing cars with the same schemes as the the legends, Tate Fogleman (Ard) won his first career super late model race while Justin Carroll (Trickle) thrilled the near-capacity crowd en route to his first career series win.
SUPER LATE MODEL RECAP
Matt Craig blistered the Hickory layout for another Mahle Pistons Pole Award to start the surreal Saturday at Hickory. Appropriately, his family has been around the sport for decades with drivers like Clay Rogers and Jeff Fultz, and it appeared Craig was channeling their skills during most of the 138-lap contest racing toward an apparent victory.
The racing gods, however, had different ideas during the caution-free event. Fogleman took advantage of a break in traffic and a fading handle on the No. 54 car to move the No. 00 Thomas Brothers Country Ham Ford to the lead on lap 113. Craig attempted to move the Fogleman ride up the track two corners later but failed in his attempt, eventually falling 5 seconds behind Fogleman in the final 26 laps
For the first, and likely the final, time in history, the Sam Ard No. 00 cruised the Edelbrock Victory Lane at Hickory Motor Speedway, a track which was vital to Ard’s success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ early years. Appropriately, it was a Fogleman who drove it there. Tate’s father, Jay Fogleman, worked and drove for Sam Ard once his driving career concluded, making victory lane very bittersweet.
“I know we got strung out there, and we got caught in lapped traffic,” Fogleman said after the race. “I was thinking back to the last race when got together with Lessard and was kinda thinking we were impatient then, so I tried to wait and plan the right move. When I got around him, I was praying. I didn't want a caution to come out, that was the last thing I wanted to see. I can't thank Solid Rock Carriers enough for letting us run this car, it's unbelievable to take Sam Ard to victory lane. It's a guy my dad looked up to, and with the stories he has told me, he became someone I looked up to, as well. It's just unbelievable, I don't know what to say.”
A short track legend in his own right, Tate’s father Jay was overcome with emotion.
"Sam did a lot for me. If it wasn't for him, I would've never driven what was a Busch car back then. He just gave a broke kid a chance, and I worked for Sam, and..." the elder Fogleman trailed off while visibly fighting back tears. "It's.... a good deal"
Matt Craig held on for second over Brandon Setzer, Bubba Pollard, and Tyler Ankrum, the only five cars on the lead lap.
LATE MODEL STOCK RECAP
The late model stock field was filled with throwback schemes on nearly every car, making their portion of the Throwback 276 exceptionally special for fans and racers alike.
The “Flying 11” of Layne Riggs captured the Hedgecock Pole and led the opening laps despite a handful of early cautions, one of which eliminated Stefan Parsons’ and Craig Moore’s throwback rides when they collided after sliding in oil laid down by Ty Gibbs’ car when its engine erupted in smoke in turn three.
Riggs continued to show the way through lap 58 when Justin Carroll, who made four total practice laps on Saturday afternoon, worked his way around Riggs for his first lead of the night.
Carroll was up front when the largest incident of the night occurred. Second place driver Ryan Repko failed to come up to speed initially on a lap 94 restart and caused a chain reaction which severely damaged the cars of pre-race favorite Josh Berry, Jared Fryar, Riggs, Brandon Grosso and others.
A subsequent slip by Carroll on a lap 98 restart allowed Austin McDaniel, running a gold Bobby Allison throwback scheme, to take the lead for the first time of the night. McDaniel fought off multiple charges from Carroll as the laps began to wind down, but a caution on lap 111 set the stage for one of the most epic races in the history of Hickory Motor Speedway.
Over the course of the final 27 laps, Carroll, McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo waged a three-wide battle for the race lead where multiple instance of bumper tag were initiated, the trio found themselves three-wide for the race lead, and on more than one occasion sparks flew from the competitors involved. The near-capacity crowd at Hickory rose to its feet as the leaders bumped, banged and fought to take home the trophy. McDaniel finally bounced off the turn two wall with less than five laps to go, allowing Carroll the go-ahead to his first CARS Tour victory.
Carroll, driving the Dick Trickle/Junie Donlavey tribute, captured his first series win at the same track where the “White Knight” Trickle captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series triumph.
“You have no idea, oh my gosh, I think that was Dick driving because I don't know if Justin Carroll was in that racecar, but Dick was definitely with me,” Carroll admitted in a tone of disbelief in victory lane. “He won over 1000 short track races, and I'm not sure if I want to take the '90' off the car now, but we had such an awesome car today. Yesterday, we didn't even practice, but we knew we had a good car. I can't thank that guy over there, Jason Stanley, enough because we've worked really hard on this car and we've been really, really good and really fast everywhere we go. To finally get a CARS Tour win, in a crazy race like that, I don't think the fans could get any better of a show than that. That was the best racing I've ever been a part of, and if I was a fan, that'd be one of the best races I've ever seen.
“I thought I about gave it away on that restart when I missed a shift, and I don't think I've ever missed a shift in my entire career in late models and I did it while leading,” he continued. “But this is definitely one of the biggest wins in my entire career. I don't really know, because the pressure was really getting to me racing against Austin McDaniel and Anthony Alfredo who won both the twins here earlier in the year. This is awesome.”
Alfredo, McDaniel, Brandon Grosso in a Dale Jarrett throwback, and Ryan Repko rounded out the top five finishers. 18 of the 23 late model stock starters honored a team, owner, driver or other portion of racing history with their paint schemes.
The CARS Tour visits Concord Speedway for the Race to Remember 250 on August 26, the penultimate race of the series’ third season. A pre-race concert highlights the day at 6pm with racing scheduled to begin at 8pm.
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