Although not by initial design, the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Pro Late Model Tour is set to tackle it second consecutive standalone event this weekend.
The series will make a trip down to South Carolina for a 100-lap feature at Dillon Motor Speedway. Built in 1966 and operated by former driver Ron Barfield Jr., the CARS Tour is returning to the 0.4-mile short track after previously running a Late Model Stock event there in 2021.
With Mike Hopkins electing to skip the most recent PLM Tour event at Tri-County Motor Speedway after winning the first two races, the championship picture has suddenly been altered as the next generation of NASCAR talent looks to build momentum into the summer starting on Saturday night.
Track: Dillon Motor Speedway
Location: Dillon, South Carolina
Length: .400 mile
CARS LMSC Tour races: 1
Dillon LMSC winners: Justin Johnson (1)
PLM Entry List (15 cars): #03 Kyle Campbell, #07 Clint King, #5 Zac Fowler, #6 George Phillips, #7 Tristan McKee, #8 Rusty Skewes, #9 Ashton Higgins, #13 Austin MacDonald, #24 Brent Crews, #28 Gio Ruggiero, #43H Josh Horniman, #77 Logan Jones, #81 Katie Hettinger, #88 T.J. DeCaire, #96 Caden Kvapil
PLM Tour point standings:
- Katie Hettinger
- Caden Kvapil -3
- Mike Hopkins -21
- Ashton Higgins -38
- Tristan McKee -40
- Connor Zilisch -43
- Brett Suggs -46
- Brent Crews -53
- Dawson Sutton -59
- Austin MacDonald -60
Katie Hettinger chasing CARS Tour history
At the end of the 100-lap CARS PLM Tour feature at Tri-County Motor Speedway, Katie Hettinger quietly made series history.
By earning a sixth-place finish, Hettinger became the first woman to lead the point standings in any CARS Tour division. The gap between her and Caden Kvapil currently stands at three points, but Hettinger is confident she can maintain that lead and reach more milestones before 2023 concludes.
“It means a lot because we’ve been working hard all season,” Hettinger said. “Our goal was to win the championship at the start of the year, so being able to lead this early on, even if it’s just by a little bit, means so much because it shows we have a chance. We’re just going to keep working hard.”
Although she has yet to break through for her first PLM Tour victory, Hettinger’s consistency is what has propelled her to the top of the standings. She has three Top 5 performances through five races and has not recorded a finish worse than sixth.
Hettinger credits her success in 2023 to the advice passed down by her team owner Anthony Campi and Super Late Model teammate Casey Roderick. Leaning on those two while simultaneously applying her own knowledge and experience with tracks in the region has only made Hettinger more confident with every passing race.
The next goal for Hettinger and Campi is to capitalize on their points lead with a victory on Saturday. Having previously raced a Pro Late Model at Dillon, Hettinger knows what to expect from the track and hopes a win will be the first crucial step towards pulling away with the PLM Tour championship.
“I’m going to have to be smart in these races and make sure to not get any DNFs,” Hettinger said. “I also need to qualify and race as good as I can. Hopefully my competitors will race smart with me too since there are a lot of us so close in the points. We just need those good, solid finishes.”
Logan Jones looks to shake off slow start
The start of the 2023 CARS PLM Tour season has not gone the way Logan Jones had envisioned.
Jones sits 12th in the point standings after recording two Top 10s and two DNFs in the first five races. Despite the inconsistency, Jones remains positive about his overall outlook and believes he can bounce back on Saturday with a strong run at Dillon Motor Speedway.
“This is the kind of racetrack I like,” Jones said. “[Dillon] s a little bit tighter than most places, but it’s really hard on tires. It’s not quite like Florence, so I’m excited to go there.”
Along with making several starts at Dillon in the Allison Legacy Series, Jones has one Pro Late Model start to his name back in 2015, which saw him finish fifth in a field that feature NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and CARS Tour alumnus Chandler Smith.
Jones admitted he has been more comfortable competing in Pro Late Models compared to Late Model Stocks due to how aggressive drivers can be behind the wheel with increased grip. He believes his cars are strong enough to be inside Top 5 but said luck qualifying speed needs to improve while also having more good luck come his way.
With top organizations like Rackley W.A.R. and Anthony Campi Racing finding a home in the PLM Tour, Jones knows he and his small team will have to make their own luck to find success in the series but is confident Saturday’s 100-lap race at Dillon will provide the jolt they need to finish out 2023 strong.
“We get two guaranteed cautions, so I’m expecting people to ride like they did at Langley last week,’ Jones said. “You need to save tires the best you can during those 40 laps and then go like crazy at the end. We’re a small team, so we’ll have to save what we can and hopefully we’ll be there at the end.”
There will be a full schedule of events on hand for Saturday at Dillon Motor Speedway, with the CARS PLM Tour being accompanied by the track’s Street Stock, Challenger and Legends divisions. On-track activity starts at 7 p.m. ET, with every race being streamed on FloRacing.
For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.
Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
-CARS Tour Release