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Vince Midas drives his No. 14 car across the finish line to collect a Late Model victory Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway. Photo courtesy of Hickory Motor Speedway

After battling it out with nature and torrential rains the last two weeks, Hickory Motor Speedway competitors were finally able to turn their attention back to America’s Most Famous Short Track and battle it out on the famed .375-mile oval with a full slate of racing action on Whelen Night at the Races.

Leading off the evening’s festivities were the first of two 40-lap features for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models. Recent first-time Late Model winner, Vince Midas in the No. 14, grabbed the top spot in qualifying with the No. 12 of Gage Painter, in his Late Model debut at Hickory Motor Speedway, starting second. Thomas Beane in the No. 31 and Bradley McCaskill in the No. 07 made up row two for the start of the race.

The green flag saw Midas and Painter side by side for the first lap of racing. Midas nosed ahead and Beane used the opportunity to slide by Painter for second. Jake Crum in the No. 12C started fifth but move up to third in the first five laps.

Lap 17 saw the caution fly as Julia Landauer’s No. 2 came to a stop in turn four. The restart saw Midas choose the inside with Beane to his outside. The front row battled side by side for a lap and was joined by Crum as he took them three wide on lap 18 and emerged with the lead. Midas bided his time, however, and moved back to the lead two laps later after passing Crum.

Painter saw an opening after the scuffle up front and moved to second. Midas held on to grab the win, outlasting the field. Painter grabbed second in his first Late Model race. Beane, the Hickory Motor Speedway points leader, hung on to finish third.

The Street Stocks rolled off next for their 30-lap slugfest. The No. 21 of Drew Cox grabbed the pole position with Ethan Johnson in the No. 2 starting to his outside. Cox and Johnson battled door to door for the top spot. A couple of laps were needed before Cox could nose ahead for the lead.

Lap 9 saw Jesse Clark in the No. 5 and Mark Whitten in the No. 77 make contact and bring out the yellow flag. Clark made repairs and continued but Whitten had to park for the evening due to the damage. The restart saw Cox and Johnson up front once more.

Lap 15 saw Kevin Eby in the No. 03 work his way around Johnson for the second spot. The yellow flew once more on lap 17 as Clark spun on the front stretch. Cox and Eby started from the front on the restart. Cox moved ahead for the top spot as the battles raged behind him.

Lap 23 saw the No. 31 of Derek Fowler spin on the front stretch and bring out the caution. Cox and Eby restarted up front and Cox nosed ahead for the top spot. Cox held on to the top spot and took the win. Eby finished second and Johnson brought home a hard-fought third.

Round No. 4 of the Paramount Kia ‘Big 10’ Racing Challenge was next up on the schedule with 50 laps for the Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models. Stevie Johns Jr. in the No. 91 snatched the top spot in qualifying with the No. 44 of Josh Kossek to his outside. Landon Huffman in the No. 71 and the No. 99 of Kyle Mansch made up row two for the green flag.

Johns and Kossek dove into turn one side by side, but Kossek used the high side to his advantage and pulled ahead on the backstretch. Mansch also used the high line to get around Johns for second. Johns bided his time and worked his way back around Mansch for the second spot on lap 18.

Lap 27 saw Cody DeMarmels in the No. 18 work his way around Mansch for third. Kossek hung on for his first Hickory Motor Speedway victory, leading every lap on his way to the win. DeMarmels grabbed another spot near the end of the race and finished second. Johns took the third spot after a hard-fought battle.

The Renegades were the next to roll off with their 20-lap feature. The winner of the last Renegades feature, Spencer Dickinson in the No. 6, started from the top spot while current point leader Robbie Hollifield in the No. 51 was close behind in qualifying and started second.

Dickinson moved to the early lead and Brian Larkin in the No. 7 moved to second. The caution flew on lap 3 as contact between Justin Austin in the No. 40 and the No. 97 of Danny Crump Jr. sent both spinning. The restart saw Dickinson move to the front once more and battles continued throughout the field.

On lap 9, the caution flew once again due to contact between Austin and Crump. Crump continued but Austin had to retire his ride for the night. Dickinson moved back to the front as the green flag flew. The caution flew on lap 15 as the No. 69 of Megan Campbell had mechanical problems and the track cleanup crew was needed.

One last restart saw Dickinson pull back to the lead and drive on to the win. Larkin finished second and Hollifield came home in third.

Next up were the 4-Cylinders for their 25-lap feature. 2018 champion Brian Mundy in the No. 6 set the fast time and started from the point with the No. 25 of Dennis Ward starting to his outside. The green flag saw Mundy and Ward looking to battle into turn one, but Mundy suddenly slowed at the flagstand and coasted back around to the pits. Ward moved to the lead.

Lap 9 saw caution as Don Wardo in the No. 59 spun on the front stretch. Ward moved back to the lead on the restart, but saw the caution fly again as Wardo spun on the front stretch on lap 11. The restart saw Ward move to the lead with Robert Trivette in the No. 11 giving chase. Ward held on for the win with Trivette finishing second. Cody Combs in the No. 9 finished third.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models finished out the night’s events with their second 40-lap feature. With the nine-car invert of the finishing order from race one, Julia Landauer in the No. 2 started from the top spot with Jake Crum in the No. 12C to her outside. The second row was made up of Connor Mosack in the No. 18 and the No. 6 of Mike Darne.

As the green flag flew, Landauer and Crum raced hard for the top spot. Landauer nosed ahead and took the lead. Crum dropped to second, but a few short laps later seized the first opportunity and moved to the inside and passed Landauer for the lead. Darne also used the opening and moved around the No. 2 for second.

Battles raged throughout the field with good, hard racing but no caution flags. Darne caught Crum with 10 laps to go and the pair went side by side for the remainder of this exciting race. The pair brought the fans to their feet with an epic battle that culminated with Crum taking the win by a nose. Darne raced the leader hard but clean and took home second. Thomas Beane in the No. 31 capped off a good points night with another third-place finish on the evening.

Next week, May 25, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series returns to Hickory Motor Speedway with a full slate of racing action for 321 Lawnmower Night at the Races featuring twin 40-lappers for our Late Model stock cars.

In two weeks, June 1st, the ever-popular Knights of Destruction roll back in to America’s Most Famous Short Track for a fun-filled night of excitement.

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