Pierce McCarter Scores Thrilling Sunshine Nationals Win in 602 Late Models

The Pigeon Forge, TN driver passed Bubba Roling on a Lap 19 restart for the win

With two laps to go in Saturday’s 602 Late Model Feature, Pierce McCarter hoped he made the right decision putting on a harder right rear tire.

The decision paid off for him, going from third to first on the final restart to win the Sunshine Nationals Finale at Volusia Speedway Park.

Roling, the pole sitter, led the field to the green in the 20-lap Feature, distancing himself from the rest of the field. But just as the Clay Hill, FL driver looked destined to earn a home-state triumph, a caution with two laps to go changed his fortune.

When the race resumed, Roling went to the bottom of the track, hoping to take the checkered flag. But he left the top open for McCarter, who thundered past Mario Gresham for second in Turn 2 and carried his momentum around Roling in Turns 3 and 4, taking the lead as the white flag flew over his #71.

From there, McCarter separated himself from the #515, holding on to win the 602 Late Model Feature and the overall Sunshine Nationals championship.

Pierce McCarter

The Pigeon Forge, TN driver said he had a harder tire than everyone else up front and knew it would be the difference in scoring the $3,000 prize.

“I watched Michael Courtney run the top a couple of times, and I had a harder right rear tire than everybody else,” McCarter said. “I knew once that got heated, I knew I could stick right there in the middle of that black. And I said, hell, might as well try it. Then it stuck right through there, and it was great.”

Along with the tire, McCarter said he felt the yellow flags finally broke his way after losing the lead in Friday’s Qualifying Feature in a similar fashion.

“I feel like cautions cost me [Friday],” McCarter said. “And earlier on in my Heat Race, they cost me. But we’ll take it tonight.”

Roling settled for second after leading the first 18 laps of the Feature. However, unlike McCarter, Roling said his tire started fading toward the end of the race.

“I felt like my right rear tire was going away,” Roling said. “Restarts really killed me. I felt like if it had stayed green, it would’ve been alright. We had a pretty big gap. But yeah, my right rear tire. I felt it sliding, and I couldn’t get through the corner as straight as I wanted to.”

Gresham crossed the line third, Chase Blackwell finished fourth, and Chaz Haskins rounded out the top five.

UP NEXT: Volusia Speedway Park is back in action next weekend for the Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout, Jan. 25-27, including the $10,000-to-win finale for the 360 Sprint Cars on Saturday. 3/4 Modifieds will also be in action throughout the weekend. For Tickets, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, watch all our events live on DIRTVision – available either online or through the DIRTVision App.

602 Late Model Feature (20 Laps): 1. 71-Pierce McCarter[7]; 2. 515-Bubba Roling[2]; 3. 21-Mario Gresham[1]; 4. 6-Chase Blackwell[8]; 5. 107Z-Chaz Haskins[13]; 6. 28L-Austin Leamon[12]; 7. 53-Brandon Yates[5]; 8. 131-Matt Herlong[11]; 9. 5-Curtis Thomas[10]; 10. 8-Zack Owens[23]; 11. 27-Tim Ryan[9]; 12. 109-Nick Johnson[3]; 13. 31-Donnie Birdwell[24]; 14. C4-Devin Whatley[21]; 15. 1J-Jason Papp[22]; 16. 11S-Quentin Steedley[27]; 17. 71C-Davy Cline[25]; 18. 17SR-Brody Smith[17]; 19. 12C-Chase Giddens[26]; 20. 9-Dalton Peavy[16]; 21. 2B-Robert Brynteson[28]; 22. 19-Michael Courtney[4]; 23. 3K-Kale VanSickle[18]; 24. 14S-Brian Scott[19]; 25. 66-Taylor Cole[14]; 26. 15-Nevin Gainey[6]; 27. 611-Koulten Herbert[15]; 28. 27G-Matt Grable[20]