Each year, the point battle in the UARA-Stars Late Model Stock Car Series goes right down to the wire. As the 2009 edition reaches the final events of the season, all eyes are glued on point leader Matt McCall, who has won four times in 2009, and veteran Jamey Caudill, who has been a model of consistency. Both drivers found there way to the front at the Dillon Motor Speedway (SC), but a last lap tangle left Caudill spinning in turn four, McCall in the penalty box, and Kyle Grissom in victory lane.
McCall had staulked Caudill over the course of the final 20 laps. As the two hit the final set of corners, McCall clipped the left rear of Caudill's blue number 50 - sending him for a loop in turn four. McCall then drove to what he thought was his fifth win of the season until he found out he had been penalized for the contact.
“I guess you can't race somebody,” said McCall. “That's an awful quick call to make at the end of a race. It was pretty obvious we were the best car here. I don't understand it.”
The crowd reacted in shock as many fans booed when McCall's win was taken away. A good majority would back up McCall by saying the incident didn't look like it was done on purpose.
“It wasn't intentional,” added McCall. “He got in the corner hard and I drove it in hard because we are trying to win the race. It's the only way UARA can keep the points close. I don't care about the championship. We come here to win races and if we do that then the points will take care of themselves.”
After getting out of the car and returning to the pits, McCall stopped to talk with Caudill who was still upset about the situation. The two had a civil discussion as they explained to each other what happened.
“We got wrecked man,” said Caudill. “He was beaten and he couldn't stand it. We have beaten him the last three or four races and he just lost it. He was better in places then we were and we were better in other spots on the track. His true color came out there at the end. I drove for his car owner for a long time. I've got all the respect in the world for that man. I would never do anything to hurt him. When he made McCall his driver he made his bed and now he's going to have to lay in it for the next three races.”
Lost in the shuffle of all the post-race activities was Grissom's win. He had little emotion in victory lane as the one of the crush panels had been knocked in filling the car with fumes during the race.
“That was the hottest racecar I have ever driven,” said Grissom. “It feels good to win. We would have really like to gone up there and passed them for it, but the main thing is we were in position there when it mattered. You have to take them how you can get them. I am surprised McCall did that, but we're pleased to get the win.”
The rest of the top five had Brandon McReynolds, Paddy Rodenbeck , Danny O'Quinn and Brandon Dean in it
The tour will take a few weeks off before they return to action on October 18th at the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
McReynolds Has a Comeback Night
Brandon McReynolds had a crazy night, battling a poor qualifying run and an early race slip up. After the third lap of the race, McReynolds found himself 15th on the track. In the end the youngster drove to the front and ended with a finish on the podium once again.
“We had a really good car tonight,” said McReynolds. “We had to pass every car so we earned our position. We just had the driver mess up on us in qualifying, but I am real happy with the way we were able to finish tonight.”
McReynolds also looks to 2010, as the future is bright for this talent diver. At this point nothing is set in stone about next year's plans, however chances are it will not be in the UARA-Stars Series.
“We are working on some stuff - Camping World East, ARCA, hopefully some Nationwide series stuff,” added McReynolds. “Right now it's about winning races and we're knocking on the door to win again soon.”
Danny O'Quinn Returns to UARA for a Top Five Run
2002 UARA series champion Danny O'Quinn returned to the series that he cut his teeth in a few years back. He was almost like a kid in a candy store, walking around talking with old friends and people he doesn't get to see much of when he's racing in the NASCAR Nationwide series.
“It feels good to be back,” said O'Quinn. “I think we were a little too loose out there tonight. It's really the first time we have been able to get the car out this year and race it.”
O'Quinn had a great night as he ran in the top five most of the night before finishing fourth. After the race he was all smiles again. There might be a chance that he could run some more Late Model races later this season.
Season Finale Now at Kingsport
UARA-Stars officials announced at Dillon that they would finish the season on November 7th at Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee. It's been several year since the track hosted a UARA event. Current point lead Matt McCall is just one of several drivers who have never raced on the track.
-Paddy Rodenbeck led the most laps at Dillon, but a tight racecar left him going backwards around the 100 lap mark. He would rebound to finish third.
-Ronnie “The Rock” Bassett has recently made the transition from Legends cars to Late Model Stocks this summer. At Dillon, Bassett was looking for experience and laps, but an on track encounter left him 13th in the final results.
-Colman Pressley looked to be a serious contender for the victory at Dillon, however mechanical problems ended his night early. He wound up 20th.
-Kyle Grissom hadn't led a lap all season until the final lap of the Dillon race last weekend.
-Dylan Presnell had mechanical problems in practice and didn't get to race at Dillon.