Bobby McCarty begins new season with new team at New River

Bobby McCarty begins new season with new team at New River

Bobby McCarty is hoping to get back in the winning groove in Saturday night‘s Solid Rock Carriers Battle of the Stars at New River All-American Speedway — and he will do so in a new car with a new team.

McCarty, 30, from Summerfield, North Carolina, will be racing for Marcus Richmond and R&S Race Cars in 2023 after spending the past five seasons with Nelson Motorsports. McCarty is coming off a winless 2022 campaign where the only highlight the veteran racer had was a pole at Martinsville Speedway ahead of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300.

“Yeah, last year wasn‘t a good year by no means but, I‘m a firm believer, every time I go to the racetrack, I should learn something or I‘m not trying,” McCarty stated. “I learned to drive the car smarter and make sure I don‘t put myself in bad situations and not burn the tires up, especially with an ill-handling racecar. I feel last year made me a smarter racer because I had to be. I didn‘t have a choice. I‘m really looking forward to this year.”

Saturday night‘s $20,000-to-win Solid Rock Carriers Battle of the Stars, which will kick off the season for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, will be McCarty‘s second start at the 4/10-mile track in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Last season, he finished eighth in CARS Tour competition at New River — but keeping with his theme of learning every time he goes to the track, there was plenty he learned about racing on the track‘s gritty surface.

“Last year, I learned, with the younger generation coming through, they see that racetrack as divebomb central,” McCarty explained. “Really cool racetrack, different racetrack, really aggressive on tires. The entry to 1 and the heavy braking into 3 really allows people to divebomb you and that‘s literally all that happened the whole CARS Tour race last year was divebomb after divebomb. We started making our run through the field, got up to fifth and there was a car inside of me that divebombed the car in front of us and took us out, so track position is key. But that place is rough on tires, so you have to keep yourself in the right spot to keep the tires on it.”

Anytime McCarty comes to the track, he expects to win — and Saturday is no different.

“We expect to win,” McCarty said. “I went and tested twice with R&S and their guys, and we had some really cool partners with us with Solid Rock Carriers, WG Speeks, Dreamworks, Pepper Jack Kennels, Caswell Glass, and Bilstein, and the two tests that we‘ve done at Hickory and Ace, the car has showed really good speed and good consistency, so we‘re all pumped up. We weren‘t planning on running this race, but after the two tests that we had, we‘re all feeling really confident in the car and felt like we didn‘t want to wait until next weekend, we wanted to go on and get a race in.”

The performance expectations and the culture that has been cultivated by Marcus and Tracey Richmond, and being reunited with crew-chief David Triplett, have given McCarty a more optimistic outlook heading into 2023.

“Man, honestly, I feel great,” McCarty remarked. “Talking with Marcus, Tracey, and Steve [Stallings], and the R&S group and having my crew chief [David] Triplett back, everything feels right. Everybody‘s excited. Everybody‘s pumped up. Like I said, this wasn‘t a scheduled race but we just, we got the itch. We‘re all confident. We all feel really great about R&S‘ program and are just ready to get to the racetrack.”

On top of the renewed confidence, McCarty will be racing in the no. 6 car, the same number he ran for much of his career, including when he raced Late Model Stocks at the historic South Boston Speedway in Virginia prior to joining Nelson‘s team in late 2017 to race in the CARS Tour.

“I started racing at the age of 6, I was always number 6,” McCarty said. “So when Marcus and I were talking about this deal, I went up to him and asked what number we were going to be, and before I could finish the sentence, he was already saying 6. For me, it‘s really cool to be able to run that number again and I think Marcus and Tracey and them know how much it means to me. It‘s really cool.”

Saturday night‘s Solid Rock Carriers Battle of the Stars will be a unique challenge for all the drivers in the event. While the gritty surface will make tire management premium, New River is also smooth at the same time, which will lead to side-by-side racing. McCarty compared the track to Myrtle Beach Speedway, the legendary South Carolina track that closed down in the summer of 2020.

“It‘s a lot like Myrtle Beach,” McCarty elaborated. “Riding around the top-five much of the race is the plan. Unfortunately, we don‘t have a crate motor, so that‘s got us in a spot. Horsepower is a great thing but it‘s hard, horsepower doesn‘t necessarily outrun a 75-pound weight break on the right side on a motor that‘s obsolete now. We definitely want to be really smart with the tires but we have to keep ourselves in the right spot and out of the hornet‘s nest.”

With the similarities to Myrtle Beach, McCarty expects the race to play out in a similar fashion — with tire conservation being key. However, the unique stage breakdown for the 200-lap race, which creates a 50-lap final stage, will create differing strategies. Drivers will be able to take two tires at the end of either the first 75-lap stage or the end of the second 75-lap stage.

“Some people might take tires sooner and ride around in the back, some might wait until the end,” McCarty continued. “I reckon it depends on what kind of car you think you have. But we‘ll see. I‘ll put it to you this way, the guys that think they can win will wait until 50 to go, and the ones who don‘t will take them at the first stage break.”

Qualifying for the Solid Rock Carriers Battle of the Stars will take place on Saturday, March 4, at 4:30 pm and the feature racing program will commence at 7:00 pm, with the 200-lap, $20,000-to-win Late Model Stock Car race expected to go green around 8-8:15 pm. Tickets are available online on MyRacePass and at the gate on race day for $25, and the event will be broadcast live on the FloRacing streaming platform, which is the official streaming partner of NASCAR Roots.

The complete weekend schedule and additional information about the Solid Rock Carriers Battle of the Stars can be found here.