LODEN TAKES HOME TROPHY FOR BOBBY ISAAC MEMORIAL AT HICKORY
Newton, NC……….Andy Loden won the 2006 Hickory Motor Speedway Track Championship, won 19 races at the track in the past two years, but had never won the Bobby Isaac Memorial….that is, until Labor Day Monday, Sept 3 rd , when he took home the custom-designed crystal trophy and the winner's check!
In doing so, he had to beat the best.
2004 HMS Track Champion Matt McCall set the bar with a Qualifying Lap of 15.158 to take the MTP Tires Pole Award, and proceeded to set the pace and lead the most laps on a blistering hot afternoon.
But the weather wasn't any hotter than the action on the track. The first caution flew on lap 7, when 3-wide running early in the event collected #9 Willy Evernham, #22 Alli Owens, and #33 Patrick McVay. By lap 20, McCall had caught the back of the pack and was putting cars a lap down.
By lap 68, McCall had pulled out to a straightaway lead over the remainder of the pack, and was flying. But just before the halfway mandatory 10 minute break, Loden had reeled him in and passed to take the Sunoco Halfway Leader Award, worth 50 gallons of Sunoco racing fuel.
On the restart for the second half of the 200-lap event, McCall quickly made his presence known by taking the lead again, while Loden starting dropping back. On lap 120, third-place starter and defending winner #59 Coleman Pressley spins on the frontstretch, bringing out the caution. Pressley is able to continue, but kept having problems: issues with the right rear hub assembly of his car.
More contact and more cautions follow, with intense laps of hard core racing in between. By lap 165, Loden begins taking his trademark high-line to the front. But with laps winding down, #12 B. J. Mackey, who qualified outside front row and ran top-five all day, started showing oil smoke….which continued to increase, finally ending his hopes for a Bobby Isaac victory.
With 20 to go, car # 92 spins coming out of Turn Four. The #92 was started by Nick Hutchins, but Jake Crum took over as relief driver at the halfway break. Crum found out the hard way that earlier contact had caused exhaust fumes to become trapped inside the car, and eventually ended his day of racing. HMS Rescue personnel assisted Crum from the car, and treated him on site.
With only 17 laps to go, McCall was flying, Loden was coming on strong, #31 Kyle Grissom was wide open, the #1 of Travis Swaim was battling hard, and #07 Chrissy Wallace was on a tear, when suddenly at the front of the oncoming pack, McCall's car cuts hard right into the Turn Four wall with a broken wheel. With the experienced drivers at the front of the pack, all were able to avoid McCall and he was able to avoid being demolished. McCall and crew were able to get his car back in the race for a valiant charge to regain the lead, but lapped traffic and a short window of opportunity made this impossible. His hopes for victory were done for the day.
With two to go, #04 Forrest Reynolds wrecks in Turn Four, bringing out the caution and setting the field for a final green-white-checkers dash for the cash. Loden takes off and secures the win, followed by #31 Grissom second, #07 Wallace third, #1 Swaim fourth, and #21 Lucas Ransone fifth.
The legendary annual event is held at Hickory Motor Speedway each year to honor hometown hero, the late Bobby Isaac. Isaac started and ended his career at Hickory Motor Speedway, and went on to become NASCAR's national champion in 1971. The first “Bobby Isaac Memorial 200” was held 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, and continues to supply the top NASCAR teams with personnel.
Each year, The Bobby Isaac Memorial 200 is one of the most prestigious wins among Late Model Stocks races throughout the country. The winner receives a $4,000 purse check, a specially commissioned, one-of-a-kind crystal trophy, and serious bragging rights.
Also racing on Labor Day Monday were the Carolina Vintage Racers and the Legendary Flathead Fords, with each division showcasing cars the type of which raced in the early days at Hickory Motor Speedway. Carolina Vintage Cars opened the show with wild action bringing fans to their feet, and the show to a halt after #81 Howard Scruggs was involved in a wreck and ended up bumper deep in the “Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet Pace Car”. Both driver and pace car suffered injuries, but both were treated and released! #12 Johnny Gregory won the CVR event, followed by #4 Jerry White 2 nd , and #48 Bill Webb third.
The Legendary Flathead Fords provided just as much fun for the fans, without as much carnage. #V8 Randy Apple won their event, followed by #2 Bill Blair second, and #33 Jerry King in third.