Chris Bristol Drives to a Historical First Late Model Win
Hickory Motor Speedway

By Adrian Sanders

After a great qualifying run and starting from the 5 th position, Columbus, Ohio native Chris Bristol made a late race move in his #92 MBNA/Rockwell Automation Chevrolet to take his first ever win at Hickory Motor Speedway. Bristol drives for a team formed by NASCAR Team Owner Joe Gibbs and the late Reggie White in order to allow minority drivers a chance at coming up through the ranks of NASCAR racing through a driver development program. Bristol's win also put him in the history books at Hickory Motor Speedway as he is the first African-American ever to win a race at the historical track during its 55 years of racing.

Carl Cormier led the 18 car field to the green flag in his Performancenter #58 car, with the #95 Country Chair car of Keith Bumgarner in tow on the outside pole. At the start, Bumgarner gets a great jump on the outside line and takes the lead coming out of turn 2. Meanwhile Randy Burnett in the Precision Suspension #14 settles into 3 rd spot with Tommy Lane #99 and Chris Bristol #92 rounding out the top 5.

On lap 3, Tommy Lane looks under Randy Burnett for 3 rd but is unable to complete the pass. Cormier takes a looks under Bumgarner on lap 5 to try and regain his top spot but he is unable to do so as the caution flag waves for the first time of the night when #59 of Coleman Pressley loses and engine on the backstretch and makes it to the pits without incident.

On the restart, Burnett looks under Cormier to try and take 2 nd spot, but by lap 7 the high line prevails for Cormier and he keeps the spot. On lap 8, Tommy Lane puts his #99 into 3 rd spot after getting past Randy Burnett. Chris Bristol follows Lane and takes the 4 th spot by lap 9. Burnett apparently experiences handling issues with his #14 car as he drifts all the way towards the rear of the field. This shuffling puts #69 Andrew Thomas into the top 5 by lap 10. On lap 15, the caution flag waves as 3 rd place runner Tommy Lane gets loose in turn 1 and spins his #99 into the wall causing minimal damage to his machine. Lane assumes his spot at the rear of the field and is able to continue.

On the restart, Bumgarner continues to lead followed by #58 Cormier, #92 Bristol, #69 Thomas and the #01 Pete Silva moves his Blossman Propane Gas machine into 5 th spot after starting midway through the field. On lap 18, Silva taps #69 in turn 1 loosening him up just enough to take over the 4 th spot. Caution flies once again on lap 20 after a multi-car pile up in turn two involving #99 Tommy Lane, #7 Josh Goble and #20 Joey McMurtrie.

On the restart, everyone remains single file upfront but by lap 21, #16 Mack Little is ready to move towards the top runners as he gets by #69 Thomas to put his Waughtown Millwork car in 5 th spot. On lap 22, caution waves for the spinning cars of #77 Joe Henderson and #51 Billy Burd after they made contact in turn 1.

On the restart, #92 Bristol looks under #58 Cormier down the backstretch. The two battle side by side until lap 25 when the outside line once again proves strong for Cormier as he keeps 2 nd spot. However by lap 30, Bristol finally makes it work to take 2 nd spot from Cormier. Caution flies again on lap 31 as #15 David Mercer makes contact with #57 Colt James sending James into the turn 3 wall as they fought for 7 th place. This ends James' night early after having his best run thus far in the season. On the restart, #01 Silva tries to take 3 rd place from Cormier but he couldn't complete the pass in turn 1.

By lap 40, #92 Chris Bristol is within 3 car lengths of the leader #95 Keith Bumgarner. It appears that the cars are about equal, but on lap 42, Bumgarner slips in turn 3 allowing Bristol to make a great run to the inside down the front stretch to take the lead. Caution comes out for the final time of the night on lap 43 as #69 Andrew Thomas loses an engine covering turns 3 and 4 with a huge plume of smoke.

On the restart, the top 4 remain single file, but the #16 of Little is ready to make a charge. He looks to the outside of #01 Pete Silva for 4 th . Little gets such a run off the turn that by lap 48 he also clears the #58 of Cormier to take 3 rd position. Meanwhile upfront, Chris Bristol hit every mark he needed to drive his #92 car to the checkered flag to claim his first ever late model win at Hickory Motor Speedway. Bristol was followed by #95 Keith Bumgarner, #16 Mack Little, #58 Carl Cormier and #01 Pete Silva.

A very excited Chris Bristol had this to say in Victory Lane:

“I'm sorry for not going to victory lane, I am so excited I don't know how to act. I'm going to have to buy a new radio and helmet now. I want to thank my whole crew, I have got a new crew chief this year, DJ Howard my team manager, he gives us everything we need. I can't believe it, this is an unbelievable program. Thanks to all my friends, everybody from work, MBNA, Rockwell Automation, Coca-Cola and Cintas. It's just unbelievable to win at Hickory, this track is legendary. All I had to do was drive, my crew gave me a great racecar. I didn't know if we could win it, that 95 was stout, but he just slipped up one time down there in 3 and 4 and I said if I am going to win it, I have got to go now. We plan on being here at Hickory every week God willing.”


In the Limited Late Model division #44 Chris Chapman, takes his second win of 2005 after a caution free race Saturday night. Chapman put his #44 Conover Construction and Roofing car out front on the first lap after passing pole sitter #47 Kevin Bumgarner on the outside in turn 2. Chapman never looked back and took the checkered flag followed by #47 Kevin Bumgarner, #10 Andy Mercer, #00 Lucas Ransone and #51 Colby Whitworth. Chapman had this to say in Victory Lane:

“We made some changes to the car earlier. We were a little bit tight all day. It was a little bit snug in the race, but it wasn't too bad. We have really worked hard today, it's been one thing after another this week to try and overcome, these guys worked hard all week and I appreciate them doing that. I want to thank all these fans for coming out, and to Kevin and Andy on a good race. I want to thank my sponsors Conover Construction and Roofing, Chapman's Garage, All-Star Graphics and all the people at Hickory.”

Kevin Eby dominated the Street Stock division in his #03 Mann's Used Auto Parts/Hagaman Trucking Camaro. Eby led every lap of the 25 lap feature Saturday night prevailing over #64 Marshall Sutton, #16 Jon Huffman, #40 David Smith and Blaine Huffman. However, post-race tech inspections disqualified Eby from the win for failing to meet fuel guidelines.

Fourteen year old Matt DiBenedetto did the “three-peat” Saturday night in the Pro 4 division as he claimed his 3 rd victory in a row for 2005. DiBenedetto started from the pole and led every lap finishing just ahead of his engine builder Todd Harrington who settled for a 2 nd place spot once again in the Harrington Machine Shop #21 car. DiBenedetto and Harrington were followed by #6 Zachary Chiz, #55 Rick Hale and #48 Doug Setzer.

DiBenedetto had this to say in Victory Lane:

“The car was good tonight. Thanks to Mike who works on the car. Ricks Auto Graphics did all the graphics. We changed the numbers this week and I think it looks really cool. Thanks to Chip Randolph's Painting and my Mom and Dad for making it possible for me to come out to the races, and Larry Pollard at LP gear for building this transmission, it's a great help to have a transmission I can actually shift…'s just so smooth every time I shift it. And thanks to Hickory Motor Speedway.”

The Flat Head Fords made their 2005 debut at Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday night with #2 Bill Blair being victorious after lapping the entire 8 car field in the 15 lap feature. Don Cook came up with 2 nd place in his #72 car, with #33 Jerry King rounding out the top 3. The Flat Head Ford division is a senior division in which you must be over 50 years of age to drive.

These drivers put on more of a “rolling museum show” than a race because each competitor knows how hard it is to fix and find parts for these antique vehicles. You can see this respect in every pass made by a driver because they always give each other the room need for the pass. The Flat Head Fords will be back in action at Hickory Motor Speedway September 3, 2005.