LUCAMA, N.C. :: Tyler Hughes scored a poignant and emotional win at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday night, celebrating with his father in victory lane on Father’s Day weekend.
This Father’s Day weekend – and this victory – means a little more than most to Hughes, as his father recently went into remission after battling cancer since last December.
“My dad got diagnosed with cancer back around December,” an emotional Hughes said in victory lane. “We just got word this past Thursday that the cancer had gone into remission. He’s only got two more chemo treatments left.”
After climbing out of the car and celebrating the victory, Hughes immediately embraced his dad, saying “This one’s for you,” before beginning his victory lane interview.
With Father’s Day this weekend, Hughes had an extra incentive to celebrate his father’s good news with a win at the 0.400-mile oval in Lucama, North Carolina. Hughes and his team even overcame some mechanical issues on race day to achieve that goal.
“Being that it’s Father’s Day, I really wanted to win for him this weekend,” Hughes said. “We overcame a lot of adversity today, with the engine troubles we had. We got fixed literally right before the race. I can’t thank my crew and team enough, because this wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Hughes started fourth in the 19-car field, but methodically worked his way to the front. By lap ten, Hughes passed pole-sitter Tyler Matthews entering turn three to take the lead, which he would not relinquish.
“We had the car pretty hooked up,” Hughes said. “It felt really good. I tried to conserve as much as I could [for the second race], keep about five or six car lengths lead from what my car owner and spotter was telling me.”
A seven-car invert placed Hughes deeper in the field to start the second Late Model Stock feature of the evening, but with a strong run and a solid decision to take the outside line on a cone-rule restart on lap eight propelled him to second. However, Hughes was unable to pass eventual winner Louis White, settling for a second place finish.
“We picked through the pack pretty quick,” said Hughes after the second race. “I got up on the outside pretty quick on one of the restarts, and was able to get to the bottom and get to second. Louis was just beating me off the corner and down the straightaway. I was able to catch him in the center, but I just couldn’t get the forward drive I needed or wanted to pass him.”
Nonetheless, it was still an extremely successful – and rewarding – weekend for Hughes.
“I think we did an awesome job tonight to come down here and get a one-two finish,” Hughes said. “I couldn’t be happier right now.”
“It’s hard to put into words,” Hughes said about the weekend. “I’m so happy for my dad, great start to the weekend. Between coming down here and thrashing all day and getting the win and finishing second in the second one, definitely an awesome weekend.”