LUCAMA, N.C. – Matt McCall scored a controversial victory in the 17th running of the Thanksgiving Classic for late model stock cars on Sunday evening at Southern National Motorsports Park.
The victory for McCall, who is crew chief for Jamie McMurray in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, was his first since 2015 and was worth $20,000.
McCall got the lead from Justin Johnson in the closing stages of the race and, when a caution came out on lap 173, McCall was scored as the leader. However, the result was disputed by eventual second-place finisher Justin Johnson, who said he was ahead of McCall at the time of the caution and should have restarted with the lead.
After reviewing timing and scoring, video replays and a lengthy discussion, the results stood with McCall declared the winner. McCall ultimately won by a 1.502-second margin over Johnson.
“We worked really hard to get here, and it’s always good to get rewarded with a trophy,” McCall said. “That’s why you come here. It worked out. It’s really hard to come back to Late Model Stock racing and know what pace to run, but it came to our hands. We seemed to have a little more tire than most to end it.”
The decision to uphold the results, which was made by track owner Michael Diaz, was ultimately made because of the racing on track.
“There was an aspect of his transponder which was supposed to be mounted by the 2017 rulebook to measurement, which during pre-race tech, we failed to verify that,” Diaz said. “Here’s a race where McCall dominated the last 20 laps of the race. If, at any point, Johnson had the car to beat him, he would have.”
The 36-year-old from Denver, N.C., relished in his victory in his first start in a late model stock car since last year’s Thanksgiving Classic, where he finished third. He was able to also share the triumph with his close friend, Myrtle Beach Speedway competitor Justin Milliken.
“Me and Justin are best friends,” McCall stated. “To come here and share it with him is pretty cool. He gave up New England Patriots tickets to be here, so that was very nice of him.”
Johnson finished second while 2014 track champion Tommy Lemons, Jr. finished third. Rounding out the top-five were Bradley McCaskill and 2015 Thanksgiving Classic winner Lee Pulliam.
Philip Morris won the Ask Logistics, LLC. Halfway Award. However, an eight-car invert ultimately proved to be his undoing. He would end up being swept up in an accident.
Tate Fogleman won the 125-lap super late model race run earlier in the day over Bronson Butcher and Taylor Stricklin.