EASLEY, S.C. — If Jared Fryar had been asked midway through the last Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour event at Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway if he thought he’d have a comfortable point lead going into this weekend’s season finale, he admits he’d have probably laughed at the question.
At that point, Fryar was floundering deep in the field at the half-mile paved oval and it looked as though the title fight in the CARS Tour’s late model stock car division was set to be a barn-burner.
Then came a lap-42 crash that eliminated Connor Mosack from the race and left championship runner-up Layne Riggs with a damaged car as well. Suddenly, Fryar had new life breathed into his hopes.
When all was said and done at Florence, Fryar left the track with a fifth-place finish and a 15-point lead over Riggs. It’s not an insurmountable cushion but it’s more than Fryar believed he’d have to work with.
“Man, we were struggling early in that race at Florence,” Fryar told SPEED SPORT. “I felt like we could run well; we definitely had a shot at finishing in the top five, but to get ahead of some of the cars that we did, I was a little surprised. I got my car too dialed in for that race and obviously, it showed. We were really good in race trim in practice and I knew it. I knew I was going to struggle in qualifying but I didn’t know I was going to struggle as bad as I did. I wasn’t too concerned, because (eventual race winner) Nolan Pope … I passed him one time and I was about 15th, so I knew starting position wasn’t as vital.
“I knew we had a good race car. It was just a matter of getting up there and, luckily, we were able to do that and really score some points that helped us here going into Greenville. It makes it a little easier.”
In looking back on his Florence race, Fryar admitted that he was laying low and trying to conserve his tires as much as he could when those in front of him began crashing on lap 42 — quickly changing the course of his entire night.
“I was already sitting back there, just kind of riding and cruising and not really pushing the issue. And then they all piled up in front of me and it was just a case where I was able to drive right around them,” Fryar reflected. “I couldn’t even really see it. I just saw Connor (Mosack) get turned sideways and then they just kind of all piled in together and blocked the track to where there was nowhere, really, to go.
“Luckily, we were able to squeeze by, because if we’d gotten caught up in that I’m not quite sure what the points would look like for us heading into the weekend.”
This weekend’s Heritage Transportation Risk Management Old North State Nationals presented by GXS Wraps is not only the finale to the CARS Late Model Stock Tour season, but is also the highest-paying late model stock car event of the season in the United States. Sunday’s finale will pay $30,000 to win.
The event, which will be streamed live via SPEED SPORT Network affiliate Pit Row TV, will have qualifying races and a last chance showdown on Saturday night before the 200-lap feature takes center stage on Sunday afternoon.
Fryar knows that, much like his last race at Florence, the Greenville event will require tire conservation and strategy.
But the championship favorite pointed out that, in the end, only one thing matters when it comes to the closing laps.
“It’s just about winning, right? If you win, the points deal takes care of itself,” Fryar said with a chuckle. “We definitely need to go out and try to win, but not force any issues there while we do that. We need to have a good solid finish. We’ve got a good solid car. It’s just a matter of making all the right changes to make it fast in practice, in qualifying and in the race. We have a good group and good partners behind us, so we just need to go down there and have a good, solid night.
“If we do that, hopefully, we can hold off Layne and Connor for that big trophy.”
The big trophy Fryar speaks of is the CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship. Fryar won the CARS Super Late Model title in 2018 and has led this year’s late model stock car standings most of the way.
Should he seal the deal Sunday afternoon, he’d become the first CARS Tour driver to win a championship in both the super late model and late model stock car classes.
“It would mean my whole racing career to me, my dad, and everyone who helped us accomplish great seasons in both divisions,” Fryar noted when asked what this year’s title would mean to him. “I feel like these CARS Tour championships are hard to come by, because it’s about being good over a 10-race schedule, not just a couple of good runs.”
Fryar noted he’s got a few butterflies going into the weekend, but those should all dissolve come race time as he puts his focus on the task at hand: Finishing eighth or better to lock up the crown.
“It’s nerve-racking leading the points going into the biggest race of the season, with the most cars and some locals to worry about,” Fryar said. “We have a lot on the line to win and it will be harder than ever before to accomplish both goals, but we have a strong enough team to do it.
“I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait to get going.”