After an exciting week of CARS Tour racing at Hickory Motor Speedway last week, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series roared back to life with a full slate of racing action on Saturday night.
Leading off the evening’s events was the first of two 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model features. Landon Huffman, driving Danny Johnson’s No. 2, made a memorable return to Hickory Motor Speedway by grabbing the top spot in qualifying with the No. 6 of Mike Darne starting to his outside. Mitch Walker in the No. 2W and Thomas Beane in the No. 31 made up row two for the start.
Huffman won the battle for the top spot after several laps side by side with Darne. Huffman and Darne set a torrid pace while the field battled for third on back. Beane broke away from the pack and gave chase to the leaders. Beane moved around Darne and for second and gave chase for the lead. Huffman proved too strong, however, and drove on to grab the win in his Hickory Motor Speedway return. Beane finished second and Brody Pope in the No. 1 moved up to finish third. Darne finished fourth and Chris Hudspeth in the No. 28 placed fifth.
Next up saw the Renegades hit the track for 20 laps of sliding sideways action. Danny Crump Jr. in the No. 97 grabbed the pole for the second week in a row with last week’s winner, Robbie Hollifield, in the No. 51 to his outside. Crump got the early jump, but the caution flew when contact between Hollifield and the No. 40 of Justin Austin sent Hollifield spinning. Both drivers restarted from the rear.
The restart saw Crump move back to the lead until the caution flew once again on lap 5 for a spin involving the No. 72 of Zachary Mullins. Crump took the lead once again, but was soon joined by Hollifield and Austin. A spin by Mullins on lap 8 brought out another caution. After a wild restart, Hollifield took over the top spot. A spin on lap 9 by Rodney Elkin in the No. 95 brought out yet another caution. On the restart, Hollifield moved back to the front while Austin and Crump battled for second. Hollifield drove on to the win with Austin finishing second. Crump finished third, Spencer Dickinson in the No. 6 finished fourth, and Mullins rounded out the top five.
The Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models hit the track next for 50 laps in Round 2 of the Paramount Kia ‘Big 10’ Racing Challenge. Gage Painter in the No. 12 set the fast time in qualifying and started from the pole with Cody DeMarmels in the No. 18 to his outside. Kyle Mansch in the No. 99 and Akinori Ogata in the No. 14 made up row two.
Several attempts were needed to start the race and the third time proved to be the charm as Painter looked for the lead and nosed ahead of DeMarmels for the top spot. Mansch and Ogata had a spirited battle for third. Lap 13 saw Ogata move into the third spot. DeMarmels gave chase for the lead, but Painter proved too tough and drove on to his second win in a row. DeMarmels held on for second and Ogata finished third. Josh Kossek in the No. 44 finished fourth and the No. 32 of Josh Stark overcame a spin on one of the initial starts and bounced back for fifth.
Rolling off next were the Carolina Custom Golf Cart Super Trucks for 35 laps of side-by-side action. Charlie Neill in the No. 26 started from the point after leading time trials with Allen Huffman in the No. 51 starting to his outside. Spencer Boyd in the No. 4 started third after making the long trek from Texas, where he ran in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series the night before. Dennis Trivette in the No. 28 started fourth on the outside of row two.
Neill and Huffman battled side by side for several laps until Neill jumped to the point with Huffman close behind. Neill started to pull further ahead while Boyd moved closer to the front pair. Boyd got around Huffman and the pair tangled with traffic, bringing out the caution with 10 to go as they attempted to run down Neill. The restart saw Neill once again pull to the lead and Huffman used the opportunity to move around Boyd for second. Neill drove on to his second straight win of the season. Huffman finished second with Boyd close behind in third. Terry Absher in the No. 17 finished fourth and Dennis Trivette in the No. 28 rounded out the top five.
The Street Stocks were the next to hit the track for their 30-lap feature. Jeff Sparks in the No. 7 started from the top spot with Drew Cox in the No. 21 to his outside. Sparks and Cox dueled it out at the front for several laps until Cox nosed ahead for the lead. The caution flew at lap 14 for a spin by the No. 9 of Trey Buff. The restart saw Sparks move around Cox for the lead.
Cox and the No. 16 of Jonathon Smith battled side by side for second until Cox took the spot. Cox pulled back into the battle for the lead with Sparks when the caution flew on lap 19 after contact between the No. 5 of Jesse Clark and the No. 2 of Ethan Johnston. The restart saw Cox move to the outside of Sparks and a furious battle for the top spot began. Cox pulled ahead after several laps and Sparks faced another furious challenge from Smith. Smith moved around for second and gave challenge for the top spot. Cox, facing a serious battle from Smith, hung on, driving it hard off the final corner to take the checkered flag. Smith finished second and Marshall Sutton in the No. 64 drove up to finish third. Todd Bradbury in the No. 00 finished fourth and Kevin Eby in the No. 03 finished fifth.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models closed out the night with the second of their two 40-lap features. After the invert from the first race, Mitch Walker in the 2W and Connor Mosack in the No. 18 made up the front row. Zach Bruenger in the No. 55 and Pat Rachels in the No. 34 made up row two.
Walker pulled to the early lead with Bruenger getting by Mosack and giving chase for the top spot. Lap 4 saw Bruenger make his way around Walker for the lead. The caution flew on lap 10 for a multi-car incident, but all involved were able to continue with the exception of 2018 Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Model Hickory Motor Speedway track champion Pat Rachels in the No. 34, who was sidelined for the rest of the race. The restart saw Bruenger back to the point but the caution quickly flew on lap 12 with debris on the track. Bruenger moved back to the top spot and the caution flew again on lap 14 after contact with Landon Huffman in the No. 2 and the No. 2W of Mitch Walker set both cars to the back of the field.
The restart saw a furious battle for the top spot that ended with a caution at lap 15. Bruenger landed in the pits with a damaged race car, and the No. 98 of Nicholas Sanchez was sent to the rear of the field for the restart. Mike Darne in the No. 6 and Chris Hudspeth in the No. 28 made up the front row for the restart. The duo battled door to door for the next four laps until Hudspeth used the high line to take the top spot. Battles continued to rage through the field for the next 20 laps, but Hudspeth pulled away and was the first to the checkered flag – and another Hickory Motor Speedway victory. Brody Pope in the No. 1 moved up to finish second and his Lee Faulk Racing teammate, Ryan Vargas in the No. 25, finished third. Nicholas Sanchez in the No. 98 finished fourth and Mike Darne in the No. 6 rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will be back in action for the next two weeks at the Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars, Hickory Motor Speedway. In three weeks, the PASS Series makes the show with the running of the annual Easter Bunny 150.
For more info, check us out at www.hickorymotorspeedway.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also reach us at the track by calling 828-464-3655.