Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
LUCAMA — Matt McCall scored the victory in the 17th Thanksgiving Classic on Sunday evening, his first win in Southern National Motorsports Park’s premiere race and his first win since 2015.
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. After reviewing timing and scoring, video replays and a lengthy discussion, the results stood with McCall winning.
McCall ultimately won with a 1.502 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 36-year-old from Denver 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.”
Milliken, who once again experienced heartbreak in the Myrtle Beach 400 last week, worked as a crew member on McCall’s car. Back in July, the 36-year-old was injured in an automobile accident after leaving Myrtle Beach Speedway. He suffered numerous injuries, but has since mostly recovered.
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 during a postrace media availability. “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.”
Justin Johnson finished second while 2014 track champion Tommy Lemons, Jr. finished third. Johnson and Lemons, who owned the car driven by Johnson, protested the result. 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 scored the win in the 125-lap Super Late Model race over Bronson Butcher and Taylor Stricklin. Lucas Jones finished fourth while Darrell Gilchrist, Danny O’Quinn, Jr., Tim Hollis and Jody Measamer rounded out the field.