Randy Burnett Shows Muscle in Late Model Division

By Adrian Sanders

UNCC engineering student, Randy Burnett takes it to the next level and claims his first win of 2005 in the Late Model Division. Burnett is also featured in recent editions of Circle Track Magazine as he and other classmates are helping to build a late model project car for the magazine.

Burnett started on the pole and led the 20 car field to the green flag in his #14 car with #70 Nick Tucker starting on the outside pole. At the start, Tucker gets a great jump and takes the lead in turn 1 leaving Burnett with 2 nd for now. A great battle for 5 th place heats up early with the #58 of Carl Cormier looking to the outside of #16 Mack Little. The two ride side by side for several laps until Little gets better grip on the low side and hangs on to 5 th . By lap 7, Burnett has chased down Tucker and is ready to challenge for the lead. They ride nose to tail with Burnett trying all he can to take a look to the inside. The two continue a heated battle until lap 20 when Tucker gets loose allowing Burnett the chance he needed. Burnett takes the inside line and claims the top spot by lap 21. This battle gives the #21 of Brian Connor a look on the #70 of Tucker as they fight for 2 nd . Connor and Tucker touch going into turn 3 as Tucker loops it around and brings out the caution on lap 21, sending Tucker to the back of the pack for the restart. The field stays single after the restart until lap 23 when the #58 of Cormier looks inside of #16 Little to try once again and take his spot. This time Cormier gets the better run and claims 4 th place. On lap 30, #92 Chris Bristol catches #16 of Little and challenges to the inside for 5 th . However the lapped #05 machine of Danny Chafin forces Bristol back to the 6 th spot for now. Bristol makes another run on lap 33 when lapped traffic comes into play once again forcing him to settle for 6 th again. Finally by lap 34, Bristol makes his move to claim the 5 th place spot from Little. Keith Bumgarner has been running in the top 5 all night in his #95 car, and now he makes a move on lap 35 to take 2 nd from #21 of Connor. This opens the door for #58 Cormier to get a run on Connor for 3 rd . They run side by side until lap 44 when Cormier finally gets a good head of steam down the front stretch and clears Connor in turn 1 for 3 rd place. Connor is now in sights of Chris Bristol who wants his 4 th place spot in the closing laps. Bristol bumps Connor coming out of turn 4 and takes 4 th place as the field comes to the stripe for 5 laps to go. Upfront, Randy Burnett continues to check out and pull away from Keith Bumgarner. It appeared that traffic may come into play with 2 laps to go as #57 Colt James and #51 Bill Burd are battling for position and trying to stay on the lead lap. Burnett played it cool and safe and came around to take the checkered flag on lap 50 followed by #95 Keith Bumgarner, #58 Carl Cormier, #92 Chris Bristol and #21 Brian Connor.

Burnett had this to say in victory lane:

“The car was great, my guys have worked their butts off day and night on this thing. The hard work is really starting to show up. We have been running real good and we finally got it put together tonight. I've got to thank Precision Suspension for hooking me up with a great set of shocks, MBI Consultants, Karen, My Dad, Michael, Doug, Jeremy…..I've a great spotter. I don't know what happened to Nick (Tucker) back there. It's a shame because we were having a pretty good race and he's a good buddy of mine. We always run clean and it was real fun up there running with him.”

Emotions Run High for Andy Mercer After Dominating Limited Late Models

Andy Mercer not only qualified on the pole in his #10 car, but he also drove it to a dominating performance Saturday night in the Limited Late Models.

Mercer led the field to take the green flag with #51 Colby Whitworth on the outside pole. Mercer immediately pulls out to maintain his top spot, as 4 th place #44 Chris Chapman battles outside of #47 Kevin Bumgarner to try and take 3 rd . Chapman clears the car of Bumgarner on lap 2 and gets the spot. Meanwhile upfront on lap 2, Whitworth takes a look to the inside of Mercer for the lead but is unable to get the run he needs to make the pass. On lap 4, Whitworth is getting heat from Chapman in the #44 as they run side by side for 4 laps. On lap 8, #51 of Whitworth gets loose in turn 2 looping his car around to the bottom apron, bringing out the first caution of the race and giving 2 nd spot to Chapman. On the restart, the top 4 remain single file, but a battle rages for 5 th . #1 Nathan Dellinger gets under #38 Chris Taylor and moves into the top 5. On lap 10, Whitworth is still fighting with his #51 car almost losing control again in turn 4. This time he goes off pace and parks it for the night in the pits on lap 12. By lap 15, #44 of Chapman has closed to within 2 car lengths of Mercer but is unable to get close enough to make a move, and by lap 25 Mercer has again pulled away again to almost a 2 second lead. On lap 31, the 5 th place battle is underway again as #38 Chris Taylor makes contact with #1 Nathan Dellinger sending Dellinger spinning in turn 1 to bring out caution again. On the lap 31 restart, #44 of Chapman takes a good look inside Mercer in turn 1, but Mercer keep his steam on the outside and pulls back out to keep the top spot. A little further back, #00 of Lucas Ransome has been in the top 5 all night and is now looking for the 3 rd spot on lap 34. He looks to the inside of #47 Bumgarner and after a drag race down the backstretch, Ransome takes the spot. Upfront, Mercer pulls away and takes the checkered flag on lap 35 followed by #44 Chris Chapman, #00 Lucas Ransome, #47 Kevin Bumgarner and #4 Ray Short Jr.

Mercer had this to say in victory lane:

“First off I want to dedicate this race to my best friend and my cousin…..they just had a baby yesterday and it is two and a half months early. I just want everybody to pray for them. His name is Dawson and he is at Gaston Memorial Hospital. All of them usually come with me, they are here with me tonight but only in my heart. I would like to thank my brother and my dad for giving me this opportunity. I'd like to thank my sponsors Reliable Fire and Safety, Tim Harvell Construction, and Mercer Grading…..I couldn't do it without them.”


Matt DiBenedetto Makes it Two in a Row in the Pro 4 Division

At only fourteen years old, Pro 4 driver Matt DiBenedetto not only continues to impress fans, but also the competitors he races with each week. This week he claimed his second victory in a row after battling his engine builder, #21 Todd Harrington early in the race.

DiBenedetto led the field to the green in his #44 machine with Harrington on the outside pole. Harrrington was on his toes at the start, jumping to the lead from the outside in turn 1. Ronnie Hamby in the #18 car gets loose and falls from his 3 rd place starting spot to the back of the pack in 6 th . On lap 2, #6 of Zachary Chiz looks under #11 Ricky Crooks Jr. in turn 4 and claims the 4 th spot. By lap 4, DiBenedetto has run down the #21 of Harrington after he had jumped to about a 3 car length lead. On lap 5, DiBenedetto looks low on Harrington and they race side by side for 2 laps until Dibenedetto prevails in turn 4 and takes the top spot. Dibenedetto checks out to a 4 car length lead. On lap 10, #18 of Ronnie Hamby looks to the inside of Ricky Crooks Jr. for 5 th . Crooks gets really loose in his #11 car and spins in turn 4 trying to gather it up just in front of the leader as the caution waves. On the restart, all cars remain single file. The battle heats up for 3 rd place by lap 16 with the #75 of Allen Huffman being pressured by the #6 of Chiz and #18 of Hamby. Hamby gets really loose off turn 4 and settles back to the 5 th spot, as Huffman hangs on to his 3 rd spot. Upfront, Dibenedetto never misses a beat as he took the checkered flag on lap 25 followed by #21 Todd Harrington, #75 Allen Huffman, #6 Zachary Chiz and #18 Ronnie Hamby.

Dibenedetto had this to say in victory lane:

“The car was tight, not real tight but fast. The motor ran great, the car was good and I'd like to thank Harrington racing engines, Mike for working on the car…..he always makes it perfect each week. Of course thanks to my parents and for the fans for coming out tonight even though its cold. It was warm in my car but I know its cold out here. I'd like to congratulate Todd Harrington for running a great race, he races me so clean every time.”

David Hasson Cruises to 2 in a Row in Hobby Stock Division

After drawing for starting positions, last weeks winner David Hasson started from the 4 th spot, but quickly drove to his second victory in a row Saturday Night at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Pole sitter Steven Clippard brought the field to the green flag in his #98 car with #51 Chris Huffman on the outside pole. Clippard easily jumps out to several car lengths lead as #15 Gary Dellinger loses control from 3 rd spot when his hood flies up covering the windshield. Dellinger went soaring through the turn 1 infield throwing water over 20 feet into the air before taking his car to the pits. This incident allowed Hasson to pass #51 Chris Huffman on the outside and take 2 nd place. By lap 3, Hasson runs down Clippard and looks to the inside to take the lead in turn 4. On lap 5, Clippard takes a look to the inside of Hasson but he just cant get it hooked up to hang and make the pass. On lap 6, #11 Jimmy Whisnant passes #51 Huffman for 3 rd just as Huffman apparently experiences mechanical trouble as he heads to park it in the pits for the night. On the final lap of the race the #-1 of Ronald McNeil tries to keep from being lapped thus holding up the leader #83 of Hasson. This allows Clippard to tuck the nose under Hasson one last time coming to the checkered flag, but Hasson hangs on to take the victory. Rounding out the top 4 were #98 Steven Clippard, #11 Jimmy Whisnant and #51 Chris Huffman.

Cornwell Dominates, McIntosh Takes the Win in Super Trucks

After running the high line that he is known for, Rock Hill, South Carolina native Gene Cornwell not only qualified on the pole, but he appeared to be well on his way to his first super truck division feature win of 2005 Saturday night until post-race tech in which his truck was found illegal by speedway officials.

Cornwell led the field to the green in his #32 truck, with #77 Mike McIntosh starting on the outside pole. McIntosh got a great start and tried to jump to the lead from the outside in turn 1, but Cornwell held his own on the low side and took the point coming out of 4. Meanwhile in the back of the pack, the #9 truck of Scott Russell found the wall in turn 1 after apparently cutting down a tire. Caution waves for the first time of the night to clean up turn 2 where Russell's truck came to rest. During this caution period, the #12 truck of Robin Harris joins the race one lap down because he pitted just before the green flag dropped to fix some problems with his truck.

On the restart, the #45 of Kenneth Pardue spins his truck out of turn 4 when the green flag waves. Pardue obtained no damage and lined up for the restart at the rear of the field. This time the green flag waves for the restart on lap 1 and #69 of Trevor Hignutt looks low on #91 Jonathan Doster to try and take 3 rd spot. They race side by side until lap 4, when Doster prevails on the high side and keeps his 3 rd place spot. Travis Mosely in the #19 truck puts the heat to Hignutt and takes 4 th by lap 5. Hignutt continued to slip away as the #45 of Pardue catches him on lap 13 and takes his 5 th place spot. But the night was about to get worse for Hignutt as officials displayed the black flag on lap 14 because his window was down. On lap 20, #19 of Mosely is trying to get around the lapped truck #12 of Harris, when Pardue looks to the outside and takes 4 th . Everyone remains in single file until lap 30 when #45 Pardue looks to the inside of #91 Jonathan Doster and tries to take the 3 rd spot. The two make contact in turn 4 getting Doster loose and in the high groove allowing Pardue to take 3 rd . Upfront, Gene Cornwell has checked out to almost a 3 second lead and cruises to the checkered flag on lap 35 followed by #77 Mike McIntosh, #45 Kenneth Pardue, #91 Jonathan Doster, and #19 Travis Mosely. However, after post-race inspection by Hickory Motor Speedway officials, Cornwell was found to have rules infractions pertaining to the wheelbase of his truck. This allowed #77 Mike McIntosh to take the victory in the super truck division.