Upcoming Events on

RATV white
Full Schedule

Why Wilkesboro is the Biggest Race in CARS Tour History

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is shining a massive spotlight on the discipline.


hero image for Why Wilkesboro is the Biggest Race in CARS Tour History

CARS Tour has promoted several big deal races over the past eight years, such as the $30,000-to-win Old North State Nationals or several sold out Throwback 276s at Hickory Motor Speedway, so that speaks volumes when president Jack McNelly says Racetrack Revival is the biggest event in series history.

For one, the Window World 125 features the Late Model Stock return of Dale Earnhardt Jr., which meant a large majority of the 20,000 fans expected to walk through the turnstiles on Wednesday night (live on Racing America) in the foothills of the North Carolina High Country.

McNelly knows this is a great opportunity to show the NASCAR community what they’re about.

"Without a doubt, to me," McNelly said. "They're telling me they're basically sold out. 20,000 people here. We've got 30 really good race cars here from a competition standpoint. Yes, definitely. The excitement, the energy is matched by nothing we've ever done before."

CARS Tour has formed a nice niche within the NASCAR landscape as the marquee tour for Late Model Stock Cars featuring multi-car race teams like JR Motorsports, Nelson Motorsports, Lee Pulliam Performance and Chad Bryant Motorsports.

The series features an eclectic mix of veteran short track aces and emerging prospects racing on the most legendary tracks in the Carolinas, Virginias and Tennessee.

Earnhardt himself has fielded a car in the series since its inception and the series launched the career of Josh Berry to the point that he is now a NASCAR Xfinity Series regular and championship contender. Earnhardt now fields a car for top prospect Carson Kvapil and wants fans to know this discipline is important.

"The Late Model Stocks are to this region, what Tour Type Modifieds are to the Northeast," Earnhardt said. "I know there are Tour Types here in the south but Late Model Stocks have never been a national series or a national car.

"They have enjoyed a special run over the past several decades in this area. The style of car, the chassis and brakes, all the things that make the car work is a throwback. It produces a kind of racing you don't see with the Pro and Super Late Model style car.

"It's a still relatively affordable race car for the blue-collar racer, a little different than when I was racing in the 90s but I think it's such a cool car and it's special to me. I want it to survive and thrive. All I've ever known is Late Model Stocks and I want to own these cars and maybe drive them occasionally for as long as I can."

That’s a massive endorsement from Earnhardt, and one McNelly views as an opportunity to continue taking his series to the next level, in whatever form that takes over the next several years.

"Needless to say, Dale is an icon," McNelly said. "When Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks, quite frankly, everyone listens. When you get endorsed by someone like that, of course."

McNelly said he didn’t even have to pay Earnhardt an appearance fee to do this, and then cracked a joke.

"Now, he’s going through tech, too," McNelly said. "In all seriousness, to have his backing and his blessing. It’s huge."

Lee Pulliam, a four-time NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion driver, fields two cars in CARS Tour competition -- one for Brandon Pierce and another split between himself and Corey Heim over the past couple of seasons.

Pulliam is the most successful Late Model Stock driver of this past decade and believes this week to be the largest stage his team has ever competed on. This is coming from a driver to have won at Martinsville Speedway.

"it’s at least going to rank right there with it anyway," Pulliam said. "The history of short track racing and NASCAR really runs through this place. We’re only two hours from here, but most everyone is from this area too, so to have the chance to win the first Late Model Stock race here in 30 years would be pretty special."

Like Earnhardt, Pulliam wants fans to know this is a gritty, compelling and tough discipline of racing with high stake consequences.

"This is hard nosed racing," Pulliam said. "This is as tough as it gets. We have Brandon and Corey in our cars and Corey will tell you it’s the toughest racing he does. It’s close, hard-nosed and hard to pass. It leads to a lot of different strategies, especially on this surface where some folks are going to want to lead and others are going to want to fall back and save their tires.

"There are going to be a lot of lead changes and moving around -- so a great show for fans checking us out for the first time."

For most new fans to the CARS Tour, Bobby McCarty of Nelson Motorsports is the name to take stock in as his No. 22 team have won three championships in six seasons competing on the tour full-time. While Josh Berry and JR Motorsports were the most prominent team, McCarty and Nelson were the ones they’ve constantly had to beat over the years.

Earnhardt expressed respect for McCarty during a public pre-practice interview session between the two and three-time champion says that meant a lot because their teams have battled so much this past decade.

"When we raced in the Xfinity car at New Hampshire, I got a lot of texts saying Dale had a lot of nice things to say on TV and that’s cool," McCarty said. "He apparently called me a legend of Late Models, and I don’t know about that.

"Josh and I had our differences, but in all reality, I wouldn’t be the driver I am today without Josh and I think he feels the same way. We brought out the best of each other. Things get heated sometimes, but I have so much respect for him and Junior, regardless of our differences in the past.

"To see how many fans are here already, 10:40 in the morning on the day before the race, this is a big deal. Him being here. It’s a lot of good that’s being done for us and our racing."

NWB Primary Shield 4 C 1



Oct 3, 2022