Matt Craig fights off challengers to win CARS Tour SLM Throwback 276

Matt Craig took the CARS Tour SLM win at Hickory

The CARS Super Late Model Tour rolled into the Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday to take part in the 3rd annual Throwback 276. Matt Craig came away as the winner from the event that has become a favorite on the racing calendar because of the cars being wrapped in the schemes from an earlier era. The Kannapolis, NC driver fought off a host of challengers during the race and one of them after the checkered flag had waved.

Craig led the way in qualifying as he toured the .363 mile paved oval in 14.723 seconds to beat out Bubba Pollard, Brandon Setzer, Tate Fogleman, Jared Irvan, Jeff Batten, Kodie Connor, Jared Fryer, Donnie Wilson and Carson Kvapil.

At the start of the 138-lap main event it was Pollard who took advantage of his outside front row starting spot and went to the early lead followed by Craig, Fogleman, Setzer and Irvan. Fogleman then moved forward early on he wrested second away from Craig on the second circuit.

Further back, Setzer and Irvan exchanged the fourth and fifth positions on lap 8 while Batten took fifth away from Setzer in the tenth time around the track. Wilson was also on the move early as he moved to fifth on lap 14.

However, contact between Wilson and Irvan would set off a chain reaction that resulted in several cars being involved in a melee behind the two top-5 runners. While Wilson and Irvan continued on, other further back in the pack suffered damage in the incident.

Just after the lap 15 restart Craig made a move to the inside of Pollard and took the race lead. Moments later, Pollard would lose second to the fast rising Wilson. But Pollard would fight back and move to the outside of Wilson on lap 22 in an attempt to retake second.

From laps 22 through 25 virtually the entire field ran in a tight pack in side-by-side formation.

On lap 27, Wilson took a turn at leading the field with Craig, Setzer, Pollard, Fogleman and Batten trailing. But Wilson’s time at the front would prove to be short-lived as Craig went back to the point on lap 33.

During the race’s middle stages, Craig continued to lead with the likes of Wilson, Setzer, Pollard, Fogleman and Kvapil frequently swapping spots just behind the race leader.¬†With 40 laps remaining, however, the intensity began to pick up. Ultimately the race would boil down to the top-3 of Craig, Pollard and Setzer battling on the worn and slippery surface of the historic track.

Pollard got inside of Craig following a lap 111 restart and the two cars ran side-by-side for two laps before Craig emerged with the race lead. Pollard used his bumper to nudge Craig multiple times but was never able to assume the lead. However, Setzer did find his way around Pollard to nab the runner-up position with two laps remaining.

Ultimately, however, it was Craig who would take the checkered flag and score the victory.

After the race, Pollard and members of Craig’s crew engaged each other in a fight that would eventually involve Craig as well.

Feature Finish: 1. Matt Craig, 2. Brandon Setzer, 3. Bubba Pollard, 4. Tate Fogleman, 5. Donnie Wilson, 6. Jared Fryer, 7. Corey Heim, 8. Kodie Connor, 9. Carson Kvapil, 10. Nolan Pope, 11. T.J. Duke, 12. Derek Lemke, 13. Molly Helmuth, 14. Brandon Johnson, 15. Dylan Bigley, 16. Jared Irvan, 17. Jeff Batten, 18. Lee Tissot, 19. Daniel Webster, 20. Justin Crider, 21. Gus Dean, 22. Harold Crooms, 23. Kyle Ivey

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association

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