“COLEMAN PRESSLEY WINS 30 TH ANNUAL BOBBY ISAAC MEMORIAL AT HICKORY”
Newton, NC…….It took seventeen years, three weeks, and 200 laps, but Coleman Pressley finally won the “Bobby Isaac Memorial 200” at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Pressley, of Asheville, NC, is the 17-year-old son of NASCAR legend Robert Pressley, and grandson of short-track legend Bob Pressley. But on Saturday, September 23 rd , he was all alone in the #59 Kingford/Clorox/Kmart Dodge and proved beyond a doubt that not only has he inherited the famous name but also the driving talent and desire.
Each year, the Bobby Isaac Memorial is one of the most prestigious wins among Late Model Stocks races throughout the country. The winner receives a $4,000 purse check and a stunning crystal trophy.
Bobby Isaac, from nearby Catawba, NC, started his racing career at Hickory Motor Speedway and went on to win NASCAR's highest honor in 1970: the Winston Cup Championship. He is a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama, and set 28 world speed records, many of which stand to this day.
The first Bobby Isaac Memorial 200 was run in October of 1977, the same year that Isaac passed away. He is buried in Catawba Memorial Park, overlooking the speedway where he started his career and raced his final race. Catawba Valley Community College's “Bobby Isaac Motorsports Program” is named in honor of this legendary driver.
It took three weeks to run the 200 lap event. More than 30 of the best Late Model Stocks drivers and raceteams from across the country showed up on the originally scheduled date, September 4 th , to compete in this event before rain called a halt to the action after only 25 laps had been completed. With 175 laps remaining in the event, cars were lined up in the order they were racing when the original race was called. With two weeks break between the dates, teams had a chance to repair any damage or fine-tune their engines even more.
In 2005, in only his first year racing, Pressley took the Pole Award in the Bobby Isaac Memorial 200, and was able to manage a very respectable 5 th place finish.
This year, he started third, with a plan to save his tires, his engine, and avoid trouble. However, the competition was tougher than ever.
Previous HMS Track Champion Matt McCall returned to the site of his 2004 dominating season, and took the Pole Award with a lap time of 15.102 seconds around the .363 banked asphalt oval, and let the competition know that he was the man to beat.
With McCall leading the pack to the green, he had his work cut out for him with fierce competition throughout the pack. #32 Kevin Leicht was fast, as was #41 Jesus Hernandez. #7 Ashley Huffman and #92 Marc Davis have both had much experience, and much luck, at the track. Young guns #3 Branden Bonnett and #31 Kyle Grissom seem to feed off of a challenge. Visiting champions from other tracks were here to try their best against Hickory's best. And then there's #8 Jamie Yelton….who always shows up with the best of equipment, and the talent and the will to win.
McCall took the lead early, but the pressure was never off, with challenges coming from Yelton and Pressley early and often. With a full field of racers, fans had trouble knowing which battle to watch as the action never faltered throughout the event.
But when the checkered flag flew, it was Pressley in an emotional Victory Lane. His mom, Gina, dashed from the team hauler to Victory Lane and handed Coleman her cell phone. Robert Pressley was unable to attend the event, working with a NASCAR team in Las Vegas, and wanted to congratulate his son for the prestigious win.
Coleman had this to say in Victory Lane:
“I know anytime you're racing with Jamie Yelton or Matt McCall, they're going to race you hard but they're going to race you clean. I tried to save it a little bit in that first half, but in the second half, everybody stepped it up and I couldn't save anything. Those lapped cars at the end of the race…I just knew something bad was going to happen. That just says a lot about these cars at Hickory…they'll race you hard, but they'll race you clean. I know last year when I first got started, and there were people yelling for me to get out of the way, and I paid my dues. I'm glad that that they gave that respect to all of us, not just me.”
#3 Branden Bonnett may have been the surprise of the day, when he turned a 13 th place starting position into a charge for the win, racing against the best with no hint of intimidation. Bonnett was able to turn a 13 th place starting spot into a 2 nd place finish, and firmly established himself as a new contender. Bonnett is a driver in the new reality TV show “Racing for a Living”.
Yelton worked his way to a great third place finish. “Man, on (new) tires that thing was a hot rod! Greg Marlowe builds a great car.”
MB2 Motorsports' #41 Jesus Hernandez finished fourth, with McCall finishing fifth.
Also racing on Saturday were the Limited Late Models going for a $1,000 winners purse, and Street Stocks racing for $500 to win. These are the longest, highest purse events for both divisions at HMS this year.
#44 Matt DiBenedetto capped off his 2006 Limited Late Models Championship Season with a win during the Bobby Isaac Memorial date. #43 Jesse LeFevers finished second, after starting on the Pole. #44x Jarit Johnson was third, with #22 J J Jensen fourth, and #2 Ken Stimpson fifth.
Street Stocks 2006 HMS Champion #32 Gary Ledbetter Jr. continued his roll with a win over an 18-car field. #03 Kevin Eby was second, followed by #66 Scott Wallace third, #40 David Smith fourth, and #08 Monty Cox fifth. The Street Stocks results are still unofficial pending a ruling on shocks on the #66 car.
For more information, log on to www.hickorymotorspeedway.com , or call Speedway Offices at 828 464 3655.