From the very beginning of the series, the one constant on the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour has been Deac McCaskill. Known as the elder statesman of the series, McCaskill is the only driver who has competed in at least 50% of every Late Model Stock Car season for the tour. The 2016 series champion competed for titles for quite some time in the series before taking a step back over the past few seasons.
Last Saturday night (Oct. 7) at South Boston, McCaskill put together a dominant performance, leading every lap of the Late Model Stock Car feature en route to his second win of the season, the first coming back at Southern National for the series’ season opener.
The return to dominance at South Boston propelled McCaskill to his first multi-win season since 2017, which got some people asking, could McCaskill contend for another championship with the tour in 2024?
To determine the answer to that question, let’s first take a look back at previous seasons for McCaskill where he was a contender for the championship. McCaskill finished top four in the championship standings for the first five years of the series’ existence, but that run came to an end during the COVID season in 2020. McCaskill has never really been a title contender since.
Back in 2015, the series only ran 10 races as opposed to the series’ 16 races this season. In those 10 races McCaskill competed in all of them, racking up one win, four top fives, eight top 10s and came within five points of the series inaugural championship.
2016 and ‘17 were statistically McCaskill’s best seasons on the tour. In 2016, McCaskill found victory lane twice during the once-again 10-race season. McCaskill racked up eight top fives and never once finished outside the top 10, with an astounding average finish of 3.20. McCaskill capped off the 2016 season with a championship by 13 points over Tommy Lemons Jr.
The 2017 season saw similar stats for McCaskill, as the veteran once again put together solid numbers. The season schedule was bumped to 13 races in part due to the addition of two doubleheader events. McCaskill competed in 12 of 13 races and finished in the top five nine times on the season. McCaskill picked up two wins on the year and finished the season fourth in the standings, just 22 points back, despite missing a race.
The 2018 season saw a slight dip in performance for McCaskill, which continued over into 2019. McCaskill started all 12 races in ‘18 and all 11 races in ‘19, picking up six top fives in ‘18 and another five in ‘19.
McCaskill stayed consistent, picking up nine top 10s in both seasons despite not showing the same dominance in previous years and managed to pick up one win in each season. In those two seasons, consistency from McCaskill still propelled him to third-place results in the championship standings.
In 2020 McCaskill began to take a step back from championship contention. McCaskill only competed in seven of the 10 races during the COVID season in 2020 and for the first time ever he finished the season without a win. McCaskill finished down in 15th in the series standings, which has become the norm ever since for the veteran driver.
McCaskill jumped back up to fifth in the standings in 2021 and found his way back into the win column, but fell back to 16th in the standings in 2022, while still picking up a win.
However, the 2023 season has been a bit different for McCaskill and the No. 08 team. While McCaskill still sits down in 14th in the standings, the team has found speed and, as previously mentioned, has now put together their first multi-win season since 2017. The 14th-place standings are not indicative of McCaskill’s performance this season, as the No. 08 has only been at 11 of the 14 races so far this season.
Further, three DNFs have had a major effect to not only McCaskill’s position in the points, but also his stats with potential top 10s and top fives. McCaskill was caught up in the front-straightaway pileup at North Wilkesboro which relegated him to a 35th-place result.
Another strong run was all for not at Tri County, as McCaskill fell out of the Old North State Nationals with just nine laps to go, falling to a 21st-place result. The third DNF of the season came at McCaskill’s home race at Wake County, when the No. 08 began overheating in the middle of another strong run.
That being said, McCaskill has had plenty of speed this season and the dominant performance at South Boston was a refreshing reminder of what McCaskill can do when he’s on his A-game.
Based on what we saw last Saturday night, McCaskill could absolutely return to championship form. The question is whether or not he wants to. At 46 years old, McCaskill has failed to make it to every single event of the season for the past few seasons.
With the ever growing CARS Tour schedule, the tour could very well expand beyond 16 races for the 2024 season, so the question really comes down to whether or not McCaskill wants to commit to running the full-time schedule.
McCaskill absolutely can compete for another title. Whether or not he does is to be determined, but one thing is for certain. A CARS Tour championship battle is always better with Deac McCaskill involved.
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