May25, 2013 – Hickory, N.C. – Ashley Huffman thought he had things under control coming down the stretch in Hickory Motor Speedway’s 100-lap NASCAR Late Model main on Saturday night. Controversial competitor Jesse LeFevers chased down the No. 7 of Huffman, forced his way under him in turns three and four with just two laps left and went by for the big Memorial Day Weekend win.
The victory was his second of the season at the legendary NASCAR “short-track”. It didn’t come without a bit of contact and for that he faced a chorus of boos from the fans as he climbed out of his car at the finish line. A talented racer who has never seemed shy of wearing the “black hat”, Jesse literally stole the show as Huffman settled for a strong second followed by Josh Berry in the Junior Motorsports Late Model, Josh Wright and the No. 4 of Jack Madrid.
It’s been a pleasant surprise that the NASCAR Late Model drivers have been able to run a couple of shows basically caution-free and most of their shows have featured less than three yellows in 100 laps. The downfall to that is that the racing can become a bit tedious as Hickory can be a difficult track to pass on, especially when the top six or eight cars are running within a tenth or two of each other.
From that standpoint, the excitement at the end, though some may cry foul, provided some unexpected drama that potentially could spill over into the next race. Congrats to Jesse on his win and congrats to the entire field of Late Models for a season that so far has provided some tremendous racing without a ton of yellow flags. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. can be a good thing and I’ve seen plenty of it in this class so far this year!
The same can be said for the Limited Late Models. Monte Cox outraced Shane Lee, Brayton Haws, Jeremy Pelfrey and Casey Pierce for the victory on Saturday but the story in this division is clearly the level of competition and the car counts, which have hovered near 20. Frankly, I have been to other tracks and watched their Limited class run this year. I haven’t seen anything that matches either the quantity of cars or the quality of the competition. There are a half-dozen or so young racers in this class who race each other hard on the track and get along together off it and that makes for some fantastic racing for 35-laps each week.
Other winners on Saturday were Robert Hapeman in the Classic Sportsman, Jonathan Smith in the Street Stocks, Carroll McKinney in the Renegades and Clint Fields in the Super Truck class (another highly competitive division where quality belies quantity).
If you are in the North Carolina area and haven’t been to a race at Hickory this year, I strongly suggest you get there soon. The crowds are healthy, the racing is the best I’ve seen it in quite some time there and the show normally is done by 10 or so. You can’t beat that on a Saturday night!
Their website is HickoryMotorSpeedway.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sherri Stearns – Hickory Motor Speedway Photographer