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Justin Carroll finished last for the first time in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career in Saturday’s Visit Hampton VA 150 at Langley Speedway when his #91 Carroll Automotive Toyota fell out with handling issues after completing 121 of 150 laps. The finish came in his fourth series start.
Carroll, a 22-year-old Virginia native, is a late model racer at Dominion Raceway and South Boston Raceway.
This is not the same Justin Carroll as the current Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant, who runs the #57 on his cars and is a CARS Tour winner. The Carroll featured here, age 22 from Virginia, is a late model racer at Dominion Raceway and South Boston Raceway. In the K&N Pro Series East, he drives the #91 and has made four starts. Three have come at Langley, the lone other one being at Richmond in 2015. His team was formerly sponsored by WindStax, the same company that backed another Virginia family team, Precision Performance Motorsports. That team competed mainly with Brandon Gdovic but also gave occasional rides to other drivers, most notably Jordan Anderson and Parker Kligerman, who scored the team’s first top-ten in their final Xfinity race last year at Road America. As for Carroll, his family team has continued plugging away in the late model ranks, sparring with tire manufacturer American Racer Tire in late 2016 after a hard Dominion crash and recently participating in his first Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, running seventh in this year’s event. He has also confirmed a return to the K&N Pro Series East at South Boston in two weeks.
At Langley, the entry list showed 19 cars, including Bristol last-placer Chuck Buchanan, Jr. Two drivers were slated to make their series debuts: 17-year-old Colin Garrett was on with Hunt-Sellers Racing, the first of three planned races this year. Garrett started in 2015 with Pure Stocks at South Boston Speedway, eventually moving up to the track’s Limited Sportsman division, which he won the championship for last year. The other was late model driver Connor Hall, a regular at Langley with his Bluewater Motorsports team, this time entered in Marsh Racing’s rotating #31 entry.
Only fifteen cars took a lap in qualifying. A few part-time efforts dropped from the initial entry list, including a couple notable names. Brandon McReynolds and his Visconti Motorsports team decided not to run Langley, as did Spencer Davis and his Danny Watts Jr.-prepared car. Davis has confirmed that his team’s next race is in two weeks: the Twin 100s at South Boston Speedway. Buchanan and his #87 team also did not show up at the track. The last no-show was Patriot Motorsports Group driver/owner John Wood. PMG had a busy enough weekend, running Salvatore Iovino at Langley and Jesse Iwuji and Rob Powers in the ARCA race at Talladega.
Speaking of Iovino, he recorded the slowest lap of the fifteen cars in qualifying. His lap of 17.222 seconds was 1.7 seconds slower than Tyler Dippel, who set a new track record. Iovino was still eight-tenths off of the next-slowest, Ronnie Bassett Jr. Unlike Bristol, all cars made a full lap in qualifying, and no drivers had to go to backup cars.
The start of the race was delayed about 45 minutes as the track’s local racing program ran later than anticipated. Iovino trailed at the green and stayed there, falling to three seconds in arrears after a lap and becoming the first driver to go a lap down after 25 laps. As for 14th place, a number of different drivers held the title at various points in the opening stages, including both David Gilliland Racing drivers, Dippel and Tyler Ankrum, who were both saving tires. Although not common in the higher levels of stock car racing, saving tires is common practice on old, rough short tracks and is often utilized in the Response Energy CARS Tour. Nevertheless, Iovino held last until the halfway break at Lap 75.
Only three cars pitted, including Iovino. Due to the extra laps completed by pitting, he briefly shot up to the lead on NASCAR’s live leaderboard, only to be reset after the race resumed. He fell a second lap down around lap 100 and it looked for a while that he would be the flag-to-flag last-place car.
An incident around Lap 115 changed that. Cars stacked up in turn three and Carroll, who had been a lead-lap car all night, did a complete spin but did not hit the wall. Carroll went to pit road for repairs lasting nine laps, briefly returned to the track and then retired. The #91 marked the only retiree of the race, as Iovino finished fourteenth, five laps down, followed by Marcos Gomes, Juan Manuel Gonzalez and Ronnie Bassett Jr., all a lap in arrears.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
15) #91-Justin Carroll / 121 laps / handling
14) #32-Salvatore Iovino / 145 laps / running
13) #55-Marcos Gomes / 149 laps / running
12) #5-Juan Manuel Gonzalez / 149 laps / running
11) #04-Ronnie Bassett Jr. / 149 laps / running
2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Bill McAnally Racing, Charles Buchanan Jr., Carroll Motorsports (1)
2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Toyota (2)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)
2018 LASTCAR K&N EAST DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP