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LUCAMA — Growing up so close to Southern National Motorsports Park, the sounds and smells of the track are familiar to Joseph Pittman. It’s likely that on some nights, the last noises the Lucama native heard before falling asleep were the revving of engines, but now he doesn’t have to be asleep anymore for his dream to be true.
Soon after Pittman pulled himself out of his black No. 8 car on victory lane, an army of his family, friends and supporters began dowsing him with bright pink silly string and champagne.
The silly string got tangled up in Pittman’s long beard and the champagne soaked the back of his black racing suit and helmet, but he didn’t much care about that.
By winning the Mini Stock championship race at Southern National on Saturday’s Championship Night, Pittman was crowned points champion in the Mini Stock feature for the first time ever in his career.
“We’ve been trying for this a long time,” said Pittman, grinning behind his car with the oversized gold trophy nearby. “This is my home track and we struggled for years. We’ve run decent here but never great.”
Pittman lives less than a half mile from Southern National and has been coming to watch races at the four-tenths of a mile track there since it opened in 1993.
Pittman, who started racing seven years ago, picked up his first Mini Stock feature victory at Southern National two years ago in May 2017. Now, he has taken the next step in his journey, beating out Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones by one second in a close race and triumphing over the rest of the field, Andrew Deal, Mike Parrish and Peanut Evans by a considerable distance in 25 laps.
Pittman led the race from start to finish, with a quicker car than the rest.
“It’s more special because of the car we’ve built, the motor we’ve built,” Pittman said. “It feels amazing.”
After winning the race, Pittman was ready to celebrate with his friends and supporters. Pointing toward an area beyond turn 1, he said he was headed to drink a few Natural Light beers in hopes that the reality of what he’d accomplished might finally set in.
“It ain’t sunk in, man,” Pittman admitted. “I’m just happy that everybody is here and actually came together this year and it worked out for us.”
Bradley McCaskill won the second Late Model Stock Car 40-lap race Saturdaay to capture the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina state championship. The win also gave him the 2019 track championship at Southern National.
“It’s monstrous for us,” McCaskill said. “People lose sight that we’re still a family team that works out of my parent’s backyard. There’s no big bells and whistles here, we just put in the elbow grease and the hard work.”
McCaskill, from Knightdale, finished second in the first Late Model race of the night, just behind Thomas Beane and started in ninth place in the second race.
He maneuvered his way to the top over the course of the race, officially taking over the top position with two laps to go to beat out Boo Boo Dalton and Brian Obiedzenski at the end. Beane came in fourth in the race, just far enough ahead for McCaskill to pass him in the points.
Capturing the state championship at a track he races at often meant a lot to McCaskill.
“Really, we didn’t have any goals at the start of this year,” McCaskill admitted. “We were going to go the CARS Tour route and I think we were in fourth in points when we decided, ‘let’s make a run for this state.’ Just started hammering at it little by little, and here we are.”
Fifteen-year-old Cameron Murray won the Bandoleros race by over half a track over his little sister, 13-year-old Olivia Murray. Blaise Brinkley, Ethan Johnson and Jacob O’Neal came in third, fourth and fifth.
In the 15-lap U-CAR/Any Car combination race, Joe Lanier won by photo finish over his son, Curtis Lanier. For the year, Brad Blizzard captured the points championship in the division.
Following that race, Mason Diaz held off Emily Day to win the Legends feature. Cameron Murray, finishing third in the race, captured the track championship in Legends.
In the Chargers race, Clay Jones won the night’s race and Michael O’Brien won the track championship. Greg Butcher also won the Southern Ground Pound Feature, which was hand-scored.