Grissom Victorious at the Fall Brawl!
By: Jill Frischmann, Hickory Motor Speedway
(Newton, NC) Hickory Motor Speedway's “The Fall Brawl” has become known as one of the wildest Late Model events in racing. This year's race was no exception…..with fireballs, double-decker racecars, and even a rock'em, sock'em trophy.
Thirty drivers from around the world made their way to the track for the 250 lap Late Model Stock event, featuring some of the finest short-track drivers in this country, plus one driver from Kanagawa, Japan, and another from Budapest, Hungary. The event was split into two 125 lap segments pitting drivers against one another for a moment in Victory Lane, the trophy, and in excess of $5,000 for the winner!
Devastation came early in the feature for the #6 of Danny O'Quinn as he went head-on into the outside wall in turn one on the first lap. O'Quinn's ride went up in a fireball bringing out the red flag and the safety crew to battle the blaze and clean up the track. O'Quinn was uninjured, but understandably disturbed about what had happened when a mechanical failure was shown to have caused the wreck.
On lap 12, the #92 of Candace Munzy got together with the #87 of Akinori Ogata, causing serious front end damage to Munzy's ride. Both drivers were able to hold on and no caution was called, but Muzny received the black flag to make her way to pit road to fix the damage and continue.
On lap 13 the #8 of Jamie Yelton found himself sitting in prime track position taking over the lead. Caution number two flew on lap 19 when Ogata spun out on the back stretch. Yelton began to increase his lead over the field once the race went back to green flag racing. By lap 32 Yelton was up against lap traffic, putting cars down a lap one by one. Yelton, determined to maintain his lead, made a gutsy move on lap 58 as he dipped to an extreme low line to pass lap traffic and keep his lead from the hard charging #2 of pole sitter Kevin Leicht. A third caution came out on lap 73 when the #57 of Grant Wimbish went for a spin on the back stretch.
As the race came closer to the mid point break, drivers became more fearless as the #35 of Chris Lewis, the #33 of James Goff, and the #43 of Jesse LeFevers went three wide in turns three and four on lap 83, fighting for position. Caution number four came out on lap 84 when the #17 of Rob Fuller, the #38 of Dexter Canipe Jr., #01 of Roger Powell, the #47 of Patrick Molesworth and the #15 of David Pletcher got caught up heading into turn one in Hickory's version of “The Big One!” Canipe Jr. received the majority of the damage, knocking him out the race and out of contention for the victory.
On lap 91 Muzny and the #18 of Bear Rzesnowiecky made contact on the front stretch, spinning and coming to a halt before entering turn one, bringing out the fifth caution of the feature. Caution number six fell on lap 101 as the #25 of George Gorham fell off the pace and came to a stop on the track. Lap 111 saw more disappointment as the #7 ride of Ashley Huffman blew up heading out of turn three, bringing out the seventh caution. A red flag immediately followed in respect for a funeral procession at the cemetery located next to the speedway. With one lap remaining in the first segment Leicht tried to make a move on Yelton to take back the lead, but didn't have enough for Yelton, giving Leicht the chance to rethink his strategy and make adjustments during the Halfway Break.
Leicht immediately resumed his run on Yelton at the beginning of the second segment of the 250 lap feature event. Leicht spent the first portion of the second segment working the low line to try and regain the lead from Yelton. Caution number eight flew on lap 134 as Ogata spun out the back stretch. The ninth caution was called on lap 149 for debris on the track. Caution number ten flew on lap 157 as the #10 of Andy Mercer spun around coming out of turn four. On lap 175 Leicht began to battle Yelton again for the lead, making the pass on the low side as the two came out of turn four bringing with him the #32 of hard charging Kyle Grissom.
It didn't take long for Grissom to begin putting pressure on Leicht for the lead. An eleventh caution dropped on lap 179 as Gorham went for a spin in turn two. With fifty laps remaining the top four cars had managed a sizeable lead over the field. By lap 208 Grissom had worked his way to the back bumper of Leicht, putting himself in prime position to steal the lead. Grissom clinched the spot on lap 214 as the two ran door to door coming out of four.
On lap 233 Goff and the #71 of Gyuri Makai collided on the front stretch coming to stop outside of turn one. The two came to a rest with Goff ‘s racecar on top of the hood of Makai, in an unintended “double-decker” effect and causing caution number 12 to fly. The red flag was brought out once again for major clean up.
The thirteenth and final caution flew on lap 233 as Wimbish and Fuller made contact coming out of four, putting Fuller in a spin cycle. Quick moves made by the #59 of Coleman Pressley allowed him to maneuver his ride around the wreck, moving into the top five. With five laps remaining it was smooth sailing for Grissom as he walked away from the field and into Victory Lane.
“That was a fun race,” exclaimed Grissom, “we had a really good car!” A second generation driver, Kyle joined his father Steve Grissom in taking the win in a big race at Hickory. Grissom received the specially commissioned Fall Brawl trophy manufactured by Xtreme Trophies, which featured a working “Rock'em Sock'em Robots” mounted on top of the huge trophy.
Leicht, Yelton, Pressley, and the #97 of Zeke Shell rounded out the top five.
The Limited Late Models put on a jaw dropping show as the 20 car field hit the track for their 75 lap event. The #17 of Kyle Mansch displayed his new found dominance early in the race as he jumped to the lead, immediately moving away from the field. The first caution of the event came early on lap two when the #94 of Josh Wright and the #1 of Chaz Andersen connected coming out of turn one, sending Andersen into the outside wall. The #45 of Kenneth Pardue and the #46 Eddie Laws spun out trying to avoid the parked ride of Andersen. Caution number two came out on lap 28 when the #77 of Mark Goin spun out coming out of turn two. The third caution immediately followed on lap 29 as the #7 of Jason Smith went for a spin the ever popular turn two. The fourth caution was soon to follow as Pardue found himself in the back end of the #32 of Justin Sorrow as the field took the green.
From the restart, the #04 of Chris Chapman began to plot his move on pole sitter Mansch in order to take over the lead. Chapman got under Mansch as the two headed out of turn four on lap 30, but Chapman didn't have enough to complete the pass for the top spot. By lap 35 Mansch was back out to a sizable lead over the rest of his competition. On lap 43, caution number five flew as the #51 got loose coming out of turn two collecting Wright. It didn't take long for caution number six to come out as Goin lost control of his hot rod heading out of turn one. The #55 of Trevor Weldon checked up to avoid Goin, squeezing Smith into the outside wall of turn two.
The first and only red flag of the event flew after the seventh caution was brought out on lap 49, when Chapman and the #07 of Tyler Church made contact coming out of turn four, sending Church spinning down the front stretch. As the two headed towards turn one they made contact again, lifting Church's car off the ground and resulting in heavy damage. Wright spun out on the front stretch trying to avoid hitting the parked ride of Church. Rescue was immediately dispatched to the #07 car, and Church was sent to the nearby hospital for tests. Church was released later that same night in good shape.
Wright was a rocket from the restart, picking off cars one by one and making his way to the front of the field, stealing the third position on lap 60. Chapman was on his heels the entire way, looking for his opportunity to over take Wright. On lap 64 Chapman made his move on Wright and grabbed the spot on lap 65. With five laps remaining, Chapman moved his way into second and then set his sights on Mansch. Chapman wouldn't have enough time to catch Mansch causing him to settle for a second place position. McGregor, Wright, and Sorrow finished in the top five respectively.
Be sure to join us on Saturday, October 25 th for the ISCARS Dash Series with the Super Cup Series and the Southeast Mini Cup Series! You won't want to miss the action off the track as Geoff Bodine, plus Byron Cherry and Jerry Rushing from the Dukes of Hazzard will be on hand, along with the General Lee Simulator and “Bumble Bee” from “Transformers”!
For more information please visit our website at www.hickorymotorspeedway.com or by phone at 828-464-3655. We can't wait to see you at the races!
Hickory Motor Speedway is a .363 mile asphalt track. The track held its first event in June of 1951 posting Gwyn Staley as the event winner. Hickory Motor Speedway has supported series such as the now Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Currently the Speedway is sanctioned by NASCAR featuring the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The Speedway also hosts a wide variety of touring series that travel throughout the country.
Hickory Motor Speedway runs Saturday nights, mid-March through October. Grandstands open at 5 PM with racing beginning at 7 PM. For more information visit www.hickorymotorspeedway.com.
Fall Brawl Late Model 250
Fall Brawl Limited Late Models 75
Pole Award Winners
(2) Kevin Leicht – 15.150 seconds
Limited Late Models:
(17) Kyle Mansch – 15.740 seconds