Race Weekend Central

Counting CARS: 3 Takeaways From Bobby McCarty’s Win at New River All-American

JACKSONVILLE, N.C- The zMAX CARS Tour Late Model Stock field took a beach trip this past Saturday (April 13) night, as the series held its third race at New River All-American Speedway – a track not far from the coast of North Carolina.

The track’s 25-year-old surface didn’t disappoint. 

Saturday’s event was originally scheduled as the second race on the CARS Tour schedule, but a dreary forecast pushed the race from March 23 to April 13. While the rain out was certainly unfortunate, it led to an All-Star edition of what is already a stacked Late Model Stock Car field. 

Series co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his highly anticipated return to the driver’s seat, making his first start at New River and his first appearance anywhere outside of North Wilkesboro Speedway in the CARS Tour.

But while all eyes were on Earnhardt entering the weekend, in the end it was Bobby McCarty that stole the spotlight with his first win of 2024.

Here are three takeaways from the CARS race at New River All-American.

Beers With Bobby Meets Victory Lane

From no sponsorship to victory lane, McCarty is back on top in the CARS Tour. Over the offseason McCarty struggled looking for sponsorship, even posting on social media, saying “desperate times call for desperate measures.”  

Without any new deals, McCarty wouldn’t have been able to race this season. But the three-time series champion thankfully secured sponsorship from Black Acid Apparel.

Three races into the season, he’s put the brand and R&S Race Cars in victory lane.

McCarty started the afternoon strong, qualifying fourth for the 125-lap feature. But a strong starting spot at New River All-American means less than any other track due to the necessity of tire management, so the most important part was yet to come. 

McCarty worked his way forward early on, eventually taking the lead away from Brent Crews on lap 15. He held the top spot 12 laps before giving it up to the No. 23 of Kade Brown

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From that point, McCarty seemed to fall into tire conservation mode, fading back to eighth by lap 34. However, McCarty never fell outside the top ten, sitting seventh when the first competition caution flew on lap 45. 

On the restart, McCarty was in no hurry to hustle the No. 6 back to the front. He was methodical moving forward, never cracking back into the top three until lap 72. But from that point on, McCarty never fell outside a podium position. 

McCarty found his way back to the lead on lap 90, taking over from a wounded Brenden “Butterbean” Queen after Queen and Mini Tyrrell made contact a few laps prior. Queen would go spinning a few laps later, setting up one last restart.

With 30 laps remaining, McCarty got the jump on Tyrrell, holding the lead and driving away in the closing laps. McCarty took the checkered flag just under half a second clear of Tyrrell, earning his first win in three tries with the CARS Tour at New River All American. 

The win not only marks the first of the year for the No. 6 group, but the second overall for the pairing of McCarty and R&S Race Cars. McCarty joined the team ahead of the 2023 season and ended a long winless drought last year at Dominion Raceway. 

Three races into the 2024 season, McCarty is firmly in the championship fight. And even with a long way to go, that’s not a good sight for the rest of the Late Model Stock field. Nobody wins three championships in any series without being impressive at what they do. When McCarty is hot, there’s nobody better in Late Model Stock racing. 

McCarty is one of the biggest personalities in the sport – and the more the No. 6 finds victory lane, the more that personality gets to shine. McCarty showcases this through his weekly show Beers with Bobby with the help of Boo Carlisle.

This week, Beers with Bobby took place in victory lane, with a guest appearance from the winners trophy. 

One Spot Short For Tyrrell

Tyrrell was oh-so-close to picking up his second CARS Tour win on Saturday, but ultimately came up one spot short of the top prize.

To find Tyrrell’s one previous victory in the series, you’d have to go all the way back to Tri-County Speedway in 2021. A lot has been made of Tyrrell and the No. 81 team’s winless drought, and Saturday night looked to be the night it would end. But it ultimately wasn’t meant to be, and Tyrrell was forced to settle for second. 

Tyrrell started his afternoon strong, qualifying fifth for the 125 lapper. Similar to McCarty, Tyrrell quickly jumped to the front early, charging from fourth to the lead in two laps to officially lead on lap 32. 

It wasn’t long afterward that Tyrell gave up the lead to a hard-charging Landon Huffman, allowing the No. 37 to fly by and settling in behind. Tyrell sat second at the first competition yellow. He remained in the top two for all but four of the remaining 80 laps, retaking the lead on lap 69 before giving it back up to Queen on lap 82.

The turning point of the race came on lap 87, when Queen and Tyrrell came to blows. Queen exited turn two as the race leader and appeared to fade low down the backstretch to protect the inside line into turn three. 

In that same moment, Tyrrell turned a big run into a dive bomb, over-driving the entry of the corner and sliding up into the door of Queen’s No. 03. The two made significant contact, sending both cars sideways before they both made the save. 

Little did they know, that would be the moment McCarty made the pass on Tyrrell for the win. Just laps later, the left rear on Butterbean’s car let go. McCarty drove off into the night with the victory, while Tyrrell’s late charge fell short. 

That second win for Tyrrell will have to wait for now, but one is definitely on the horizon. The No. 81 team has shown major improvements from last year, coming into the race at New River All-American less than ten points behind series leader Connor Hall

With Hall finishing third and third place points man McCarty taking the win, the three should be about even as the title battle begins to take shape. Tyrrell has shown top-10 speed in every race so far in 2024 and easily could have won Saturday night.

Don’t be surprised if the No. 81 group snaps the winless streak soon.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Returns. More to Come?

It goes without saying that Earnhardt is the people’s champion of NASCAR. But in his retirement from Cup racing, the beloved stock car star has developed that same title in the short track, grassroots world. 

If there’s any proof needed, look no further than the attendance Saturday night at New River All-American. According to the track, the facility was so overpopulated that they eventually had to shut the gates and start turning people away, because there was no more room on the property.

That’s the Earnhardt effect in full force. 

On the race track, Earnhardt had an up-and-down night to say the least. The two-time Daytona 500 winner qualified his No. 3 all the way back in 21st, giving the fan favorite a steep uphill battle to navigate during the race. 

Earnhardt spent the first run feeling out the race car and managing his equipment, maintaining 21st when the first competition caution flew on lap 45. Plans changed for Earnhardt on the ensuing restart, as he began to drive to the front while others continued to manage their tires. 

The Kannapolis, N.C., native made it as high as 13th before things went south. A caution set up a restart with 74 laps to go. One lap later Earnhardt tried to take Huffman three wide on the entrance of turn three. He dove to the bottom of the corner, with Huffman in the middle and Bryce Applegate on the outside. 

Applegate didn’t get the three-wide message in time. He pinched off the nose of Huffman’s car and eventually sent Huffman’s No. 37 spinning sideways in the middle of turns 3 and 4. 

Just moments later, Earnhardt and the No. 3 drilled the side of the No. 37 machine, causing damage to the nose of Earnhardt’s Chevrolet. With a limited number of laps left, Earnhardt made one final charge forward to mitigate the damage, coming home in 14th. 

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It’s been highlighted time and time again how big of an influence Earnhardt has on grassroots racing, between his own team, his ownership of the CARS Tour itself, or simply traveling to new short tracks to try his luck with the best Late Model Stock car drivers in the country. That’s exactly what Earnhardt did on Saturday night, at a track he’s never been to before. 

Earnhardt never truly got a chance to show how good his race car was due to the incident with Huffman. But knowing how strong he’s been late in the running at Florence Motor Speedway and North Wilkesboro over the past couple seasons, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the No. 3 near the front by race’ss end. 

As the dust settled on New River All-American Speedway, Earnhardt sat at the edge of his hauler sharing drinks with friends, team members, and competitors alike, spreading stories about the night and his late model past. 

Earnhardt mentioned post race that this won’t be his last time racing with the CARS Tour in 2024. JR Motorsports team announced earlier this week that he’ll be sporting the famed Sun Drop livery at Florence in August, driving. Sammy Smith will drive a No. 88 Cherry Lemon Sun Drop entry at North Wilkesboro. 

Earnhardt also mentioned that the team had a surprise driver announcement to come for the Wednesday, July 3 event at Caraway Speedway, and that he himself would be back in the car towards the end of July.

For those paying attention, it was Kyle Larson who ran that very same Caraway race for JR Motorsports in 2023. Earnhardt’s late July plans line up perfectly with the Hickory Motor Speedway throwback event for the CARS Tour. So both of these storylines are something to keep an eye on going forward. 

Race Results

  1. Bobby McCarty
  2. Mini Tyrrell
  3. Connor Hall
  4. Treyten Lapcevich
  5. Carson Kvapil
  6. Chad McCumbee
  7. Ryan Millington
  8. Landen Lewis
  9. Andrew Grady
  10. Isabella Robusto
  11. Brenden Queen
  12. Kade Brown
  13. Cody Dempster
  14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  15. Bryce Applegate
  16. Brent Crews
  17. Buddy Isles Jr.
  18. Jacob Heafner
  19. Brandon Pierce
  20. Paul Williamson
  21. Katie Hettinger
  22. Logan Clark
  23. Deac McCaskill
  24. Landon Huffman
  25. Ronnie Bassett Jr.

What’s Next?

The zMAX CARS Tour will now head to Orange County Speedway this Saturday, April 20, in Rougemont, NC. The event will mark the series’ first race at the track since 2021. Both the Pro Late Models and Late Model Stocks will be in action, be sure to catch all the coverage live on FloRacing.

About the author

Chase began working with Frontstretch in the spring of 2023 as a news writer, while also helping fill in for other columns as needed. Chase is now the main writer and reporter for Frontstretch.com's CARS Tour coverage, a role which began late in 2023.  Aside from racing, some of Chase's other hobbies include time in the outdoors hunting and fishing, and keeping up with all things Philadelphia sports related.

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