Labonte surges to SMART Modified Tour victory at Caraway

Bobby Labonte celebrates the SMART Modified Tour victory at Caraway Speedway. (Photo courtesy of SMART Modified Tour)

High-profile drivers helped deliver multiple nights of drama at the track


SOPHIA – Former NASCAR Cup Series driver Bobby Labonte won the SMART Modified Tour’s feature Saturday night at Caraway Speedway.

Labonte overcame Danny Bohn and Jimmy Blewett for the victory in the 99-lap race.

The race came on a card that capped a couple of nights of high-profile drivers visiting the track to race during the past week.

The racing card for Rusty Harpe Memorial was dripping with drama, with the Revolutionary 99 delivering. The SMART Modified Tour race took 2 hours, 7 minutes.

“That was pretty exciting at the end,” Labonte said.

Bohan placed second, followed by Brandon Ward, Burt Myers and Micheal Ritch, who secured his best finish on the circuit.

Tom Buzze Jr., Cody Norman, Anthony Bello, Jason Myers and Joey Coulter comprised the next five. Ryan Newman, another former Cup series driver, was 13th, one spot ahead of Blewett.

** In the 602 Mods, Dean Lowder had the best qualifying mark and made that hold up by securing the early lead and going on to win the 50-lap race.

Slate Myers placed second, followed by Ryan Kuhithau, Dylan Ward and Mitchell Wright.

** In the Challengers feature, Ross Dalton was declared the winner in the 71-lap event, moving up from runner-up when Lane Woods’ car failed a post-race inspection because of the tires.

The next three spots went to Chase Robertson, Cody Griffin, Dalton Ledbetter and Connor Branch.

** In Mini Stocks, Johnny Warr was the winner in front of Jessica Coulter in a race reduced from 30 laps to 15 laps because of time concerns.

Firecracker 265

On last Wednesday night at the speedway, Brent Crews captured the CARS Tour Late Models Stocks race, slipping past Connor Hall on the final corner of the 125-lap feature.

Trinity’s Jared Fryar, the defending champion, held the lead briefly at the start of the race before Carson Kvapil and Hall later held the front spot. William Byron became one of the contenders following a late caution. But it was Crews who roared to the victory amid final-lap bumping.

“That’s hard racing, that’s short track racing,” Crews said. “I got moved up to the third groove probably more times than I can count on my hand.”

Byron, who was February’s winner in the Daytona 500, pulled into second place in his first CARS Tour race since 2015.

“It’s bound to get physical at the end, especially at a track like this,” Byron said. “It’s kind of like Martinsville.”

He said he was cautious in some ways because of unfamiliarity with other drivers.

“Looking back at it, I wish I had just chose the bottom,” Byron said. “The top was getting rough and there was no grip up there because of the marbles. I didn’t get the grip I wanted to, fell back to third and just watched those guys push each other around. It was fun, though.”

Byron said returning to grassroots type of racing provides a certain thrill.

“Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to do some more,” he said. “… It’s fun to come mid-week and run something like this.”

Hall ended up third, followed by Fryar and Kvapil, who was third last year in the circuit’s stop at Caraway.

The next five were Layne Riggs, Connor Zilisch, Dylan Ward, Ronnie Bassett Jr and Ryan Millington. Riggs crossed the line first last year, but was later disqualified because of the size of sway bars on his car.

There were 26 drivers in the field. Heath Causey of Snow Camp was at the back, making it only about halfway through the race.

Corey Heim, a regular in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, had his car put in an upside-down position on the frontstretch early in the race, causing an extended delay. He walked away under his own power.

In the CARS Tour Pro Late Models, Tristan McKee won for the second time in his career on the circuit, edging Conner Jones. McKee won from the pole position, overcoming Jones’ bid to pass from the outside on the final restart.

Caden Kvapil placed third, followed by Jimmy Renfrew Jr. and T.J. DeCaire among 17 entrants.

In the Legends race, Keeland Harvick claimed the victory ahead of Austin Thompson.

The Bandolero race went to Jay Hemenway.

By Randolph Record