LUCAMA, NC – From Joseph Pittman’s first career win to Ashlyn McCaskill’s comeback victory, the Mini Stock division produced headlines all season long.
Popular hometown driver Joseph Pittman, 32, from Lucama, North Carolina had been racing at Southern National Motorsports Park for five years and had never won a race – until May 27th. Pittman scored his first career Southern National win by leading wire-to-wire in a 25 lap feature.
“We’ve been trying for this a long time,” an emotional Pittman said in victory lane after his triumph. “We’ve been close a few times but this is what we’ve been trying for the whole time I’ve been racing. It’s even more special that everybody did come out tonight to support me. Makes it even better.”
Pittman, who drives an Acura, qualified on the pole and bested a field which consisted mostly of Toyota Celicas, which has arguably been the dominant car in the division at Southern National throughout the years. As he pulled into victory lane, he was greeted by a small army of supporters – fans, family and racers alike.
“I was kind of surprised,” Pittman remarked. “We’ve been trying some stuff a little different. A couple of weeks ago, got a pole, got rained out and didn’t change much. It was rolling, couldn’t believe it. I hope we can continue to do it. We’ll try to change some stuff. This is very special, it means a lot.”
Dylan Newsome was a breakthrough driver in the division, running up front and threatening for a win in his first start of the year. Newsome was having success at other tracks as well, winning races at Carteret County Speedway and Ace Speedway.
On August 4th, the 19-year-old from Goldsboro, North Carolina finally broke through at Southern National.
“We’ve definitely been on a roll,” Newsome said in victory lane. “We’ve got a great car and a great team. I’m only 19, this is my ninth race and I’m definitely looking forward to getting some more action. It’s really exciting to win these races since my dad (Jack Newsome) used to race so that means a lot to me.”
Newsome’s victory was all the more impressive as he beat out names such as local drivers Joseph Pittman and Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones as well as Mini Stock standout Brandon Clements, a veteran driver who has scored wins all across the region.
(Clements scored his first career Southern National Mini Stock victory on October 22nd)
16-year-old Ashlyn McCaskill was sidelined for much of the season after suffering a concussion when she was involved in an accident in qualifying ahead of the season-opening race for the division in March. It was not until August 19th that, Ashlyn, daughter of four-time champion Deac McCaskill, was able to race again.
She made the most of her return and the difficult journey back to the track paid off when she was able to hold off Ronnie “Buckshot” Jones on a late race restart to score the victory.
“The wreck at the beginning of the season was rough but I wanted to continue racing,” McCaskill remarked after the race. “This is my life. This is what I love to do. I just can’t thank my dad and everybody enough who support me to get back here. I was ready to go back racing after the accident but the car wasn’t in good shape and I had to get my health back right first. It’s just amazing. No words can explain the feeling of it.”
After the race, Deac McCaskill, smiling ear-to-ear like only a father could after his daughter’s triumph, talked about her long road back and the satisfaction of seeing her score the victory on Saturday.
“She’s awesome man,” the elder McCaskill exclaimed. “What she’s been through this year, to come back and win the first race back is fantastic. She’s got a lot of talent in her. I have to hand it to her. We’re still learning, that’s what we’re here for.”