"THE FALL BRAWL AT HICKORY SPEEDWAY!"
Newton, NC.....Imagine holding your breath for 250 laps…..surrounded by 35 of the finest Late Model Stocks drivers in the Southeast…..wide open….on a .363 mile banked asphalt oval. Imagine being one of only 10 drivers left on track for the final green-white-checkered finish. Imagine the pile of sheet metal and parts growing in the infield. Welcome to The Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway!
This year's event offered a 250-lap Late Model Stocks guts-show for the $5,000 winner's purse. With the off-season coming up, and all winter to rebuild the cars, nobody was holding anything back and the fireworks began….
Qualifying for Late Models was held on Saturday afternoon, and the nervous racers met the fans in a pre-race Autograph Session, directly before taking the grid on Sunday, October 15 th , for the longest race of the HMS season.
Ashley Huffman's #7 led the field to the green flag after taking the “Smoke'm Pole Award”, with 2006 HMS Track Champion Andy Loden starting outside front row. Showing amazing skill, the 35-car field was off to a great start until lap 8 when an 8-car pile-up in Turn One left #93 Richie Steamboat on top of the #9 of Kyle Gregson. Gregson and #91 Brad Kurth were done for the day, but the others got out the big hammers and were able to continue.
Several other big wrecks occurred throughout this leg of the event. On lap 62, #31 Kyle Grissom and #19 Kyle Moon tangled coming out of Turn 4, with both slamming hard into the frontstretch wall. Both drivers were uninjured, but their racecars were finished.
Huffman continued to hold the lead until lap 105, when #92 Marc Davis took over leader duties, after making his way up from a 13 th place start.
After leading the most laps in the event, Huffman collided hard with the Turn One wall. After making repairs, he was able to continue, but never up to the competitive level of early in the race.
Davis held the lead until lap 150, when Loden made his charge for the front spot. Loden was able to hold off all challengers until lap 202, when 2001 HMS Track Champ #48 Mark Setzer took his turn at the front. Setzer was able to hold the lead for only two laps, when Davis reclaimed the lead.
With 10 laps left to go, there were 16 cars left on track. Davis held the lead over #59 Coleman Pressley, Setzer, Loden, and #44 Matt DiBenedetto, who was competing in his first Late Model event. In sixth place was #32 Randy Porter, followed by #95 Shane Brafford, #17 Paul Adams, #74 James Hansen, and the #12 of B J Mackey.
At this point, “yellow fever” breaks out with a rash of caution flags in the final 10 laps. Battered racers tighten the belts and get ready to do whatever it takes to get the wind with the smell of checkers in the air. On lap 242, Andy Loden and Mark Setzer were battling for third spot and tangled coming off of Turn four, taking Loden out of the event. Setzer was able to continue, but wrecked on the restart.
On the restart, Pressley takes off in close pursuit of leader Davis. Pressley looks low, but meanwhile the rest of the pack is closing up on the leaders, with DiBenedetto trying the outside of Pressley and Porter pressing from behind. Davis is trying hard to make his car as wide as possible, but Pressley makes the pass. Davis turns Pressley coming off of Turn 2, spinning him out in front of the oncoming pack. Pressley takes his bent-up race car to the pits for repairs, and Davis is sent to the rear of the field.Porter inherits the lead, ahead of DiBenedetto and Adams, for the restart on lap 245. But Porter starts “outside the box” and is sent to the rear of the field. Meanwhile, Davis & #14 Randy Burnett tangle on
the backstretch, bringing out yet another caution. At this point, there's nothing but empty seats in the house, as all fans are on their feet for the dramatic conclusion.
On the restart, DiBenedetto leads the pack, followed by Adams, Mackey, Hansen, and Pressley. Going into Turn 2, Adams dives low and sends DiBenedetto around, collecting Pressley and Hansen. Pressley drives down onto Pit Road with a flat tire, while the DiBenedetto crew gets busy tearing off loose sheet metal. Adams gets his marching orders to the rear of the field.
Mackey inherits the lead, followed by #96 Jeremy Thompson, and Davis. With 2 to go, the hood from #96 sets sail, bringing out the caution for a final green-white-checkered restart.
Mackey leads the field to the green in a last-chance charge for the win. He manages to take off while the rest fight among themselves, and wins the biggest event of the year at the historic Hickory Motor Speedway.
Thompson held off the others for a career-best second place finish, while Davis hit the checkers third, followed by Adams fourth, DiBenedetto fifth, #53 Duncan Molesworth sixth, Pressley seventh, Burnett eighth, #40 Jamie Hayes ninth, and Hansen tenth.
Following post-race technical inspection, Davis was disqualified for unapproved changes to his crate engine, moving everyone else up one position.
Mackey was thrilled in Victory Lane: “We kind of fell into the lead there at the end with all the leaders wrecking each other” said Mackey. “We didn't like our starting position, but were able to hold on until halfway and made some adjustments to our car and got better as the race went on. We hadn't raced too much Late Model stuff this year, but we'll take a win here (at Hickory) anytime!”
Race cars were trashed, tempers were hot, and fans were ecstatic over one of the most exciting races in years. Some drivers were cheered, while others were boo'ed, and a great race was seen by all. The Fall Brawl continues to thrill. Short-track racing is alive and well at Hickory Motor Speedway.
For more information, log on to www.hickorymotorspeedway.com , or call Speedway Offices at 828 464 3655.
LATE MODEL STOCKS (1)12 B J Mackey (2)96 Jeremy Thompson (3)17 Paul Adams (4) 44 Matt DiBenedetto (5)53 Duncan Molesworth (6)59 Coleman Pressley (7)14 Randy Burnett (8)40 Jamie Hayes (9)74 James Hansen (10)32 Randy Porter (11)48 Mark Setzer (12)29 Andy Loden (13)34 Bobby Measmer Jr. (14)93 Richie Steamboat (15)10 Andy Mercer (16)95 Shane Brafford (17)46 Lucas Ransone (18)41 Jesus Hernandez (19)18 Andy Houston (20)7 Ashley Huffman - Pole (21)27 Brad Seagle (22)23 Terry Brooks (23) 43 Jesse LeFevers (24)77 Clint Mills (25)25 Ross Furr (26)85 Brent Raymer (17)99 Brandon Dean (28)31 Kyle Grissom (29)19 Kyle Moon (30)5 Payne Pickles (31)27 Danny O'Quinn (32)4 James Edwards (33)91 Brad Kurth (34)9 Kyle Gregson (36)92 Marc Davis – DQ
LIMITED LATE MODELS (1)07 Bill Lett -POLE (2)55 Waylon Flynn (3) 44 Jarit Johnson(4)22 JJ Jenson (5)27 Brandon Mundy (6)29 Allen Johnson (7)2 Kenneth Stimpson (8)13 Jon Vivo (9)77 Mark Goin (10)1 Harry Hill (11)14 Brandon Cox (12)11 Rance Hume (13)15 Kenny Brooks (14)35 Matt Scoggins
SUPER TRUCKS (1)70 Gary Ledbetter (2)97 Kevin Bumgarner (3)16 Mack Little (4)03 Kerry Lawrence (5)19 Jordan Anderson (6)09 Scott Whittaker -POLE (7)24 Ben Stancill (8)45 Kenneth Pardue (9)7 Joseph Boyer (10)1 Rusty Loggins
EAST COAST FLATHEAD FORDS (1)53 Rick Newsom (2)6 James Rogers (3)28 Kenneth Tuttle (4)83 Ben Brown (5)99 Johnny Johnson (6)33 Jerry King (7)19 Jerry Tuttle (8)17 Dennis Overby