zMAX CARS Tour Event Preview: 125 at Southern National Motorsports Park

Southern National Motorsports Park

To kick off its 10th season of competition, the zMAX CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour is heading back to the track where it all began, Southern National Motorsports Park.

Over 30 Late Model Stock teams attempted the inaugural weekend for the CARS Tour back on March 28, 2015. In a thrilling finish, current NASCAR Cup Series competitor Todd Gilliland used a bump-and-run to overtake four-time Southern National track champion Deac McCaskill with 3 laps remaining to become the first CARS LMSC Tour winner.

A lot has changed since Gilliland took that checkered flag, but one constant has been the commitment of the LMSC Tour towards offering a home for both young competitors and seasoned veterans to prove themselves. That vision has remained stalwart under the current ownership of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Justin Marks.

With notable names from different disciplines joining the established core of drivers, the 10th season for the LMSC Tour is expected to be the most exhilarating yet, starting with Saturday’s 125-lap feature that wraps up the inaugural Speed Week at Southern National.

Event Notes:

Southern National Motorsports Park
Lucama, North Carolina
.400 mile
CARS LMSC Tour races:
LMSC Southern National winners:
Deac McCaskill (3), Todd Gilliland (1), Josh Berry (1), Brandon Pierce (1), Taylor Gray (1)

LMSC Entry List (32 cars): #00 Chase Burrow, #03 Brenden Queen, #04 Ronnie Bassett Jr., #08 Deac McCaskill, #1 Andrew Grady, #1J Clay Jones, #2 Brandon Pierce, #6 Bobby McCarty, #8 Carson Kvapil, #11 Buddy Isles Jr., #14 Mason Diaz, #15 Ryan Millington, #15C Logan Clark, #16 Chad McCumbee, #17 Kaden Honeycutt, #22 Connor Hall, #23 Kade Brown, #24 Cody Dempster, #28 Jonathan Findley, #29 Brent Crews, #37 Landon Huffman, #45 Bryce Applegate, #51 Jamey Caudill, #51N Stephen Nasse, #55 Gavan Boschele, #62 Layne Riggs, #67 Cameron Bolin, #71 Katie Hettinger, #77 Trevor Ward, #81 Mini Tyrrell, #90 John Goin, #95 Jacob Heafner


Brenden Queen determined to claim CARS LMSC Tour title

Brenden Queen could not have asked for a better conclusion to his first season with Lee Pulliam Performance.

The Thanksgiving All-Star Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park saw Queen emerge victorious following an intense battle between him, Josh Berry and Kaden Honeycutt that encompassed the final 25 laps. Now that he is back at the same track, Queen sees Saturday as a perfect opportunity to kickstart a CARS LMSC Tour title run.

“It was icing on top of a great year,” Queen said. “That was a race I had wanted to win for a long time. We won three of the last four races at the end of the season, so we have a lot of confidence to chase this championship after coming up short.”

The synergy between Queen and Pulliam has propelled their operation to the top of the Late Model Stock ranks. Queen added he shares many similarities with Pulliam on and off the track, which allowed him to clean closely on the Late Model Stock veteran for advice on venues he was not familiar with prior 2023.

A handful of bad races, which included running out of fuel while leading the Old North State Nationals at Tri-County Motor Speedway, prevented Queen from winning the LMSC Tour championship. Queen tries not to harken too much on those results and is striving to be more efficient in his sophomore campaign.

While defending champion Carson Kvapil is not running the full schedule in 2024, there is still a plethora of talent Queen will have to contest with through all 17 races. Queen does not intend to deviate from what has made him so successful with Pulliam and is eager to open 2024 with another win at Southern National Motorsports Park.

“You’re going to have to be consistent,” Queen said. “You can’t have stupid mistakes and it’s going to take an average finish of third [to win the title]. There are a lot of bonus points available, so you need to get poles and lead laps. All those points matter, but I’ve got so much confidence in my Lee Pulliam team and we can be the guys to beat.”

Andrew Grady confident about winning at home track

The 2024 season will be a fresh start for Andrew Grady as he prepares for his third year with the CARS LMSC Tour.

Moving over from Mike Darne Racing to TORP Chassis, Grady has plenty of optimism about potentially competing for wins every week. The experience accumulated at Southern National Motorsports Park throughout his career is something Grady believes gives him an advantage for Saturday’s season opening 125.

“I’m beyond excited,” Grady said. “We had a very, very bad year across the board, but in most races, we were either just outside the Top 10 or inside the Top 10. I’ve always got Southern National circled on my calendar, and I know I’ve always got a shot to win there.”

Logging hundreds of laps at Southern National has taught Grady the importance of momentum around the facility. He said the track can be deceiving to those unfamiliar with its layout, adding that passing is always at a premium with how delicate drivers must be with building momentum to set up overtakes.

It took years for Grady to thoroughly understand racing at Southern National, but he believes he has all the necessary fundamentals to win a major race at the track. Combined with the chemistry he possesses with TORP Chassis owner Craig Oliver, Grady said everything is aligning for him to break through in the LMSC Tour this year.

Accumulating Top 5s is the first step Grady wants to take before accomplishing his goal of obtaining an LMSC Tour victory. Grady is keeping expectations in check with the competitive depth in the LMSC Tour this year, yet he can not help but think about how rewarding it would be to get his first win at a track that shaped him as a driver.

“I’d probably be speechless,” Grady said. “This is my third year back racing after I took two years off. A win would mean the world to me, my family, my team, and anybody that has supported me. Winning a CARS Tour race is enough in itself, but to do it on home soil is the way I want to do it.”

Five years after first win, Brandon Pierce seeks to break long drought

On March 9, 2019, Brandon Pierce permanently etched himself into the CARS Tour record books by picking up his first victory at Southern National Motorsports Park, which came after passing Josh Berry on the last lap.

Saturday’s 125 will serve as the exact five-year anniversary of what remains his lone triumph with the CARS LMSC Tour. Pierce has worked tirelessly trying to get back to victory lane since then, but he still reflects fondly on what he accomplished against an efficient competitor like Berry.

“That win changed my career in a lot of ways,” Pierce said. “I haven’t had a ton of CARS Tour success, but in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Josh [Berry] is definitely among the top Late Model Stock drivers ever that I’ve raced against in my career, and it was really special just to get my first tour win.”

Pierce said the number of competitive teams that regularly populate the LMSC Tour highlights why it is so difficult to win in the series each year. The addition of drivers like Stephen Nasse and Treyten Lapcevich to the current roster has emphasized to Pierce the importance of consistency in practice, qualifying and on race day.

Joining Carroll Speedshop over the offseason is a move that Pierce hopes pays dividends during what he believes will be his toughest year on the LMSC Tour. Pierce had a quiet but solid first outing with Justin Carroll in the Icebreaker at Florence Motor Speedway, scoring a lead lap finish of 13th.

In many ways, Pierce finds it fitting he is with a new team five years on from his only win, as he was driving his first LMSC Tour event with Lee Pulliam Performance at the time. Pierce does not expect a second win to come easy at Southern National on Saturday, but he knows that goal is feasible with his experience and the speed in Carroll’s cars.

“Winning would be a huge weight off my shoulder,” Pierce said. “There’s been a lot of misfortune since that last win, but this is a small, family-run team that does a whole lot with very little. It’s going to be a lot harder this time for multiple reasons, but breaking that winless drought would be extremely special.”


Just like last week’s zMAX CARS Pro Late Model Tour feature, the 125 is placed in the middle of a full docket of competition on Saturday afternoon that includes Bandoleros, Legends, Chargers and Any Cars. The green flag for the zMAX CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour race is set to wave at 4:45 p.m. ET, with FloRacing providing coverage.

For more information on the zMAX CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the zMAX CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on X (formerly known as Twitter) and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.

Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in Mooresville, NC, at 704-662-9212.