The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series rolled back into Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday for another thrilling evening of racing action at America’s Most Famous Short Track.
Leading off the festivities for the night were the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models in race one of their twin 50-lap doubleheader. Vince Midas in the No. 14 set a fast time in qualifying and Taylor Gray in the No. 17 was second and started to his outside. Austin McDaniel in the No. 12 and Landon Huffman in the No. 2 made up row two for the green flag.
Midas and Gray had a furious battle for the top spot as McDaniel looked inside to make the lead duo a trio. Gray nosed ahead as the caution flew for an incident involving the No. 97 of Kyle Lockrow and the No. 19 of Jessie Cann.
The restart saw Gray and Midas battle once again. Midas nosed ahead for the position and brought McDaniel with him to second place on lap six. McDaniel looked for the lead and pull alongside of Midas for the top spot. Dillon Houser in the No. 11 spun on lap 11 after contact with another racer bringing out the caution. McDaniel and Midas dueled on the restart with the two-time Hickory Motor Speedway Champion McDaniel nosing ahead for the lead. Gray took the opportunity to attempt the pass on Midas for second, but the duo had a thrilling 10 lap side-by-side battle for the spot. Midas finally took the spot around the midpoint of the race and hoped to chase down the leader, McDaniel. Chris Hudspeth in the No. 28 had other plans and challenged Midas for second. As the pair battled, Huffman made it a three-way battle for position. Hudspeth completed the pass for second and immediately faced a challenge from Huffman. Huffman completed the pass around lap 41 and give chase to the leader McDaniel. McDaniel proved too tough to catch and took the checkered flag, in his first race after the loss of his longtime crew chief, Jonathon Morrison, to a tragic accident two months earlier. Morrison’s widow and children joined the team’s celebration in their first time back to the track since their loss.
Huffman finished second and Hudspeth took third. Thomas Beane in the No. 31 worked his way through the field to finish fourth and Gray hung on for fifth.
The Carolina Custom Golf Cart Super Trucks were the next to hit the track for 35 laps of racing excitement. The No. 51 of Allen Huffman topped the charts in qualifying to start from the point while Robert Tyler in the No. 88 started on the outside of row one. Charlie Neill in the No. 26 and Joey Shuryan in the No. 30 made up row two.
Huffman and Tyler drag-raced down the front stretch but Huffman nosed ahead when they made it to the backstretch. Neill pressured Tyler for second for several laps until Tyler pulled ahead for the spot. Huffman built a several truck length lead as the pair behind battled for second but Tyler soon reeled him in for the top spot. Lap 18 saw Tyler move past Huffman to take the top spot from Huffman. Neill drew up to Huffman’s bumper and give him pressure for second. Contact between Neill and Huffman sent Huffman spinning coming off of turn four and brought out the caution.
The restart saw Tyler leading with Travis Baity in the No. 70 to his outside. Huffman and Neill had to restart in the rear of the field. Tyler got the top spot on the restart. The caution flew on lap 28 as Baity spun collecting Brett Suggs in the No. 33 and Zach Hale in the No. 97. Suggs needed repairs on pit road but all rejoined the field.
Tyler and Neill restarted at the front with Tyler pulling ahead for the lead. The caution quickly flew for a spin on the backstretch by Hale. The restart once again saw Tyler and Neill pacing the field. Tyler pulled to the lead with the field giving chase. Tyler hung on and drove on to the win.
Neill finished second while Huffman finished third. Baity finished fourth and Trivette came home in fifth.
Next up saw the Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models roll off of pit road in round six of the Paramount Kia ‘Big 10’ Racing Challenge. Mitch Walker in the No. 2 was first in qualifying and started from the point with Steve Johns, Jr. in the No. 91 to his outside. The No. 44 of Josh Kossek and the No. 18 of Cody DeMarmels made up row two.
Johns got the better start and moved to the lead as the field made it to the backstretch on lap one. DeMarmels moved around Kossek to take third place and the field settled into single file for a few laps. Brendan Doyle in the No. 23 got around Todd Midas in the No. 50 to break into the top five. Johns set a torrid pace and drove out to an early lead. Doyle worked his way around Kossek for fourth. DeMarmels put pressure on Walker for the second spot, with the pair running side by side until the caution flew for a spin by Josh Stark in the No. 32. Under the caution, DeMarmels car coasted to a stop on the front stretch and required a push to pit road from the Midnight Special Wrecker Service. Walker also pulled to the pits for repairs, but unlike DeMarmels, he rejoined the field.
The restart saw Johns and Doyle at the front with Johns moving back to the top spot. The caution quickly flew on lap 28 as contact between Kosma Guznyakov in the No. 33 and Stark sent Stark spinning and both to the rear for the restart. Johns and Doyle led the field to the green with Johns once again pulling to the lead. Kossek moved under Doyle for second and a hard race for the spot. Kossek spun coming off turn two and collect Walker, Todd Midas and Stark. Kossek suffered the most damage and had to make repairs while the field prepared to go back to green as did Walker also. DeMarmels returned to the field not losing a lap after making lengthy repairs. Johns quickly jumped out to the lead as the green flag flew. DeMarmels wasted no time working his way to third and pressuring Doyle for second. The pair put on a thrilling show for the fans for the second position with a 10-lap, side-by-side battle.
Johns capped off a strong performance by taking the win and parking in Victory Lane. DeMarmels made the pass and finished second and Doyle had a great finish in third. Todd Midas finish fourth and J.P. Dyar rounded out the top five in fifth.
The Street Stocks were the next to hit the famed 3/8 mile oval. The pole position taken by Drew Cox in the No. 21 with Jonathon Smith in the No. 16 to his outside.
Cox and Smith battled side by side to the first turn but mechanical issues forced Smith up the track and bypassed by the entire field. Smith coasted to a stop and brought out the caution.
The restart saw Cox and Whitten side by side for the green flag. Cox pulled to the lead while Whitten soon pulled to the pits with mechanical issues. Jesse Clark in the No. 5 and the No. 2 of Ethan Johnson put on a furious battle for second when the caution flew on lap 7 for a spin involving the No. 64 of Marshall Sutton. Cox and Clark brought the field back to green flag and race for the top spot. The caution soon flew as the cars of Kevin Eby in the No. 03 and Todd Bradburry in the No. 00 made heavy contact on the backstretch. The No. 31 of Derek Fowler also got collected in the incident and required assistance from the tow truck. Eby was the only one out of the three able to continue. Cox and Clark started from the front once again but this time Cox pulled out to the top spot. Johnson moved around Clark for second and brought Sutton with him to third.
Cox hung on for the win, his fifth on the year. Johnson took second and Sutton finish third. Trey Buff in the No. 69 debuted a new car and finished fourth with Eby bouncing back to finish fifth.
A blast from the past, the Hickory Vintage Racers rolled off next for 25 laps. The No. 0 of Bob Hapeman was the fastest qualifier but had to start from the rear due to series rules about returning winners. The top spot then was the No. 16 of Bill Webb with Bill Powell in the No. 71 to his outside.
Bill Webb took the early lead with Powell close behind. Hapeman moved up to third after passing Mackie Webb in the No.16W. Hapeman drew close to Powell and moved around him to give chase to the leader, Bill Webb. Lap 10 saw Hapeman make his move for the top spot and moved around Bill Webb for the lead. Hapeman hung on for the win with Bill Webb in second. Powell finished third and Mackie Webb finished fourth.
The 4-Cylinders took their turn on center stage next for 25 laps of racing action. Brian Mundy in the No. 6 took the pole position in qualifying with Curtis Pardue in the No.17 to his outside.
Pardue got the better start and nosed ahead on the opening lap. Mundy continuously pressured Pardue for the top spot until he made the pass on lap 7. Cody Combs in the No. 9 gave chase to the lead duo. Robert Trivette in the No. 11 and Ashton Trivette in the No. 21 put on a spirited battle for fourth and reel in Combs as well for third. Contact between Robert Trivette and Combs in turn four of lap 20 brought out the caution. Combs was the only car unable to continue.
Mundy took the lead on the restart with Pardue close behind. Mundy, the 2018 Hickory Motor Speedway Champion, held on and took the win. Pardue finished second and Ashton Trivette finished third. Robbie Trivette finished fourth and Robbie Lewis in the No. 98 finished ninth.
Closing out the night’s festivities was the second 50-lap feature of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model doubleheader. The invert from the finishing order of race one saw the front row made up of Dawson Cram in the No. 4 and Dillon Houser in the No. 11. Row two saw the No. 14 of Vince Midas and the No.54 of Drew Dollar for the initial green flag. The start saw Houser move to the lead as DGR competitors Dollar and Taylor Gray in the No. 17 moved to second and third. Lap five saw the caution fly as Kyle Lockrow in the No. 97 spun. Houser and Dollar restarted on the front row but the caution quickly flew as Jessie Cann in the No. 19 spun on the front stretch. Dawson Cram in the No. 4 and Lockrow were collected and unable to continue. Race one winner Austin McDaniel in the No. 12 made it all the way up to third on lap six after starting 10th. The caution flew again on lap eight as for another spin on the backstretch. Houser and Gray brought the field back to the green flag. Lap nine saw McDaniel move to the lead as Houser and Gray battled for position. Contact between Gray and Houser sent Houser spinning and brought out the caution. Both drivers had to restart from the rear.
McDaniel and Hudspeth made up the front row on the restart. McDaniel pulled to the lead as the scramble for position was three wide behind them. Midas was bumped sideways in front of the field, seemingly spurring a huge wreck, but Midas held on and drifted his car sideways all the way around turns one and two with a tremendous save. The caution flew when contact between Houser and Dollar bottlenecked the field and saw Midas’ car climbing the door of Houser’s No. 11.
McDaniel and Hudspeth restarted from the front with McDaniel pulling to the lead. Kevin Leicht in the No. 25 worked his way up to second after starting in the rear. The caution flew again on lap 19 as Jake Crum in the No. 12 came to a stop in turn one. The restart saw McDaniel and Leicht side by side and they stayed that way for six laps when the caution flew for Midas’ car stopped in turn three.
Leicht and McDaniel made up the front row for the green flag once more. Leicht pulled ahead on the backstretch as McDaniel fell close in behind. Lap 30 saw McDaniel look under Leicht and the pair started an epic side-by-side battle for the lead. The lead duo put on a show the fans will not soon forget. Both drivers pushed their equipment to the limit, but maintained control for a 20-lap, door-to-door battle that brought the fans to their feet for the remainder of the race. As the lead cars came off of turn four on the final lap, McDaniel and Leicht made contact.
Leicht spun sideways across the finish line to take the win as McDaniel stayed in the gas to finish second. Gray finished third, Hudspeth took fourth, and Connor Mosack in the No. 18 rounded out the top five in fifth. For the second straight week the fans stood in amazement at the finish and listened to the passion-filled interviews of the drivers over the public address system.
With all the excitement over the last two weeks the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will take a week off. The track will not be closed however as next week will see the Sweet Leaf Map Festival at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Racing will return to the historic short track in two weeks as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series roars back to action in Coca-Cola Night at the Races.
For more information check us out at www.hickorymotorspeedway.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also reach the track by phone at 828-464-3655.