CONCORD, N.C. — official series release — PASS/SMRS photo —
Jonathan McKennedy grabbed the lead from Brandon Ward on lap 94 and led the race until it was called for rain on lap 108 to win the inaugural Southern Modified Racing Series (SMRS) Presented By PASS event Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway. McKennedy’s Easter Bunny 125 win came in an action packed race that saw the lead change hands 11 times among six different drivers.
“It’s great to be here at Hickory, it’s got a lot of history to it and it’s pretty awesome to win down here,” said McKennedy in victory lane. “I knew we had a real good chance to win at about halfway when the other cars started coming back to me. We had a great pit stop and I was able to get the lead, and the rain obviously helped us a little bit too.”
Lisbon, CT’s Chris Pasteryak blistered the legendary speedway in qualifying with lap of 85.651 miles per hour, but would start sixth after the top six qualifiers redraw. Former North-South Shootout winners Matt Hirschman and Burt Myers would move up to the front row and lead the field to green for th e inaugural SMRS event.
Myers quickly jumped into the lead, but just as quickly Cale Gale took it from him on lap two. Several cars were making their way up through the field, including Bobby Measmer, Jr. and Brandon Ward, who wasted little time moving towards the front.
The lead pack of ten cars changed the lead back-and-forth, lap-after-lap, with several drivers taking turns at the front, such as Gale, Myers, Pasteryak, Ward, and Jeremy Mayfield. Eventually, Ward would take the lead from Mayfield on lap 40 and take command with Gale and Myers following close behind.
After leading more than 30 laps, Ward would lose the lead when Burt Myers moved to the outside to take the position on lap 76. Gale followed Myers around Ward for second and then would bypass Myers for the lead again on lap 83.
The first caution of the night did not wave until lap 92 when Kevin Orlando slowed in turn three, causing the lapped cars of Gary Putnam and Josh Nichols to check up and spin, collecting the third place running Ward in the process. While the leaders took the opportunity to pit for fresh rubber, Ward stayed out, opting for track position and hoping for rain.
But, the rains did not come and once back under green, McKennedy moved by Ward for the lead on lap 94. McKennedy led until the rains came on lap 108 and was awarded the win over John Smith, B. Myers, Measmer, and Hirschman. Rounding out the top ten were Kyle Bonsignore, Pasteryak, Jason Myers, Patrick Emerling, and Gale.