Chris Bristol Backs it Up With Another Trip to Victory Lane

By Adrian Sanders - toadtraxracing@yahoo.com

After being disqualified from last week's event due to a fuel infraction, Chris Bristol came back strong this week to qualify on the pole and take the win in Saturday Night's 50 lap feature at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Bristol led the field to the green flag in his #92 MBNA/Rockwell Automation Chevrolet, with Joe Henderson starting 2 nd in the #77 Kodak car, after posting his best qualifying time of the season. At the start, the field thins out to run single file until lap 7 when Keith Bumgarner looks to make a charge into the top 5 as he gets under #32 Kevin Leicht when Leicht gets loose in turn 1. As Bumgarner takes the 5 th spot with the #95 Country Chair Ford, Leicht gets shuffled back through traffic and eventually pits on lap 14 after experiencing problems with his car early in the race. The first caution of the night is displayed on lap 14 when 2 nd place running #77 Joe Henderson spins coming out of turn 4. Henderson comes to a stop without incident as the field slips by. However, the night was over for the #77 Kodak car as a very frustrated Joe Henderson climbs from his ride to find that a panhard bar mount had broken in the rear-end.

On the restart, #21 Brian Connor goes to the inside of #58 Carl Cormier to challenge for 2 nd , but after 6 laps of battling, Cormier keeps the spot. Caution waves again on lap 20 when #29 Mark Johnson makes contact with #57 Colt James and sends James backing into the turn 3 wall. #51 Bill Burd, slides to a stop just behind the #29 of Johnson as Danny Chafin tries to miss the wreck in his #05 Checkers machine. Chafin wasn't so lucky as he swiped the rear of Burd's car peeling the sheet metal off his right front fender and passenger side door. Chafin apparently suffered suspension damage as well, ending his night. James, Burd, and Johnson were able to continue the race after pitting.

Chris Bristol continues to lead the race at the restart. On lap 29, #17 Kyle Mansch looked to claim the 5 th position as he passed #15 David Mercer low in turn 1. Everyone in the top 5 seemed content with their spots until lap 41 when the battle for 2 nd , 3 rd and 4 th heated up. Brian Connor tries to put his #21 LP Gear car in 2 nd place when he looks to the inside of #58 Carl Cormier. Cormier keeps his momentum on the outside to keep the spot. With this shuffling, #95 Keith Bumgarner closes in to make it a complete 3 way battle for position. By lap 46, Cormier, Connor, and Bumgarner are literally nose to tail. On lap 48, Bumgarner dives to the inside of Connor and clears him to take the 3 rd spot. Bumgarner sets his sights on Cormier for 2 nd and makes a charge on the low side coming to the white flag, but it just wasn't enough. Chris Bristol had checked out on the field with a several car length lead as he takes the checkered flag for his 2 nd win of the 2005 season. Bristol was followed by #58 Carl Cormier, #95 Keith Bumgarner, #21 Brian Connor and #17 Kyle Mansch. .

Bristol had this to say in Victory Lane:

I'm glad we were able to do it again. Last week we got caught out there with a stupid mistake. It's a great opportunity to be able to represent MBNA, Joe Gibbs Racing and Reggie White, but it really hurt us last week because we are in the same building as the Busch guys. We had a barrel of fuel that was our track fuel and the Busch guys came back and poured their stuff in our barrel, and the crew chief didn't know it. So they took that win and took our points but we know that we had that car on a rail. D.J. Howard has got that car flying, it's hot and slick and this thing just turns like a big dawg. I'm just glad we could do it again because if we get thrown out tonight it won't be over fuel, I can tell you that.

Perhaps the best racing action of the night was in the Limited Late Model Division, as Hickory Motor Speedway fans came to their feet to watch a 3 way fight for the checkered flag sending 2 cars spinning down the front stretch. Chris Chapman started on the pole in his #44 Chapman's Garage Chevrolet but battled side by side with #10 Andy Mercer for 18 laps. The two finally came together in turn 4 sending Mercer spinning exiting the turn. NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Officials determined that Chapman had been overly aggressive so they sent him to the rear of the field with only 6 laps remaining. This put #21 Billy Joe Wilson on the point for the restart.

Wilson has never won a feature at Hickory Motor Speedway, so he was definitely hungry for a checkered flag. When the green flag dropped for the restart, Mercer and Chapman rocketed through the field. Mercer moved into 2 nd place coming to the white flag with Chapman in tow. The field worked their way down the backstretch as Mercer gets under Wilson to try and take the top spot. The two slam doors going into turn 3. Just as Chapman looks low to make it a 3 way battle in turn 4, Mercer and Wilson make contact again as both go spinning down the front stretch. Chapman literally slips by unharmed to take the checkered flag just before Mercer crosses the stripe backwards and coming to rest in Victory Lane. Chapman took the win with #10 Andy Mercer taking 2 nd followed by #21 Billy Joe Wilson, #2 Matt Leicht and #00 Lucas Ransone.

The USRA Hardee's Street Stock Challenge Series made a stop at Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday Night for a 50 lap event. Gary Ledbetter appeared to have it all wrapped up after leading most of the first 44 laps in his #32 car. But after a late race caution, Ledbetter pitted after experiencing some sort of problem with his car while leading under caution. This relegated the top spot to #39 Andy Favre who went on to win the event. Favre was followed by #03 Kevin Eby, #14 John Waterhouse, #40 David Smith and #77 Henry Barnes.

Kevin Bumgarner picked up another win in his #97 Paintball World truck after dominating the Super Truck race for the 35 lap feature. Bumgarner was followed by #12 Robin Harris, #69 Trevor Hignutt, #44 Ben Ebeling and #45 Kenneth Pardue.

Matt DiBenedetto got back to his winning ways after he beat his own qualifying track record in the Pro-4 Division. DiBenedetto was followed by #3 Donnie Harmon, #29 Ricky Dennie, #98 Rob Lewis and #00 Ricky Crooks.

After starting shotgun on the field, David Hasson picked up another win in his #83 Photo on the Go Hobby Stock car. Hasson was followed by #2 V.L. Richardson, #98 Stephen Clippard, #12 Jimmy Whisnant and #10 Wayne Reece.

Join us at Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday Night August 6 th for Sig's Tire Centers Night at the Races! A huge night of racing is on tap with a twin 50 lap feature for the Late Model Division, along with Limited Late Models, Pro-4, Hobby Stock, Street Stock and the Aaron's Pro Challenge Series! Catawba Science Center will be on hand to entertain the fans with hand-on experiments and varmints.