Hickory, NC – Cup Series star William Byron took a break from a busy weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway to race his #24 Donnie Wilson owned Super Late Model in the second of two Easter Bunny 150s Saturday. Byron a former regular at the track did not attend Friday night’s event or even race at Hickory for the past seven years. Rust was a non-issue as he was able to lead 109 laps on his way to the victory by more than a half a second over Brandon Barker #88.
The first twin 150 was set by group qualifying due to rain on Friday, but Saturday fans were entertained by four heat races to set the field. Heat races are a staple of the Pro All Stars Series and PASS regulars were the ones to prevail. Gabe Brown’s #61 took home the first heat race victory, Derek Griffith #12G won heat number two, Cole Butcher #53 beat out teammate William Byron in heat three and Wyatt Alexander #96 won heat number four.
This would be the lone bright spot of the weekend for Wyatt Alexander. Wyatt and the #96 team were held up by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on the way to the track from Maine on Wednesday. After they finally made it to Hickory, they unload the car and blew a motor in Thursday’s practice session. The team borrowed an engine from local chassis builder Dean Clattenburg and worked throughout the night and into early Friday morning. All in all, they end the weekend with two DNF’s and a torn-up racecar. Wyatt Alexander Racing team is Known as W.A.R and while they lost the battles at Hickory look for them to be back on track real soon.
Pole-sitter Gabe Brown lead the first three laps of 150 around the “World’s Most Famous Short Track” before two-time Easter Bunny Winner Derek Griffith took over the top spot following a yellow flag for Kate Re of Harrison, Maine making hard contact with the turn three wall. 13 laps later both Donnie Wilson Racing entries snuck under the #12G. Griffith fell back in line in third spot and fought to regain the positions lost.
Cole Butcher, who finished second in Friday’s event, was able to lead 14 laps Saturday before Byron charged to the lead. Griffith slowly made his way back to the front picking off both Butcher and Byron and led for another nine laps before a big moment in lap traffic returned the lead to Byron in the Axalta #24.
Brandon Barker in his familiar #88 was on the move. After extensive damage to his machine on Friday night Brandon had considered loading up and taking the 15-hour drive home to Windham, ME. A crew member convinced him to stay and fix the car. It proved to be a wise idea as just over halfway through the 150-lap event Barker had gained 16 positions and was running inside the top 5.
Friday night’s winner Ryan Moore was battling an ill handling racecar and went a lap down to leader William Byron on lap 104. That would not be the only trouble for Moore as a few laps later Ryan spun on the front straight after contact from the #42 of Kyle Reid. Moore would rebound to finish 11th as the last car on the lead lap.
On the ensuing restart Kyle Reid has issues, and the chain reaction caused DJ Shaw’s #60 to spin in turn one. A third caution fell for the incident collecting Wyatt Alexander #96, Josh King #21, and John Peters #09P. DJ Shaw was able to continue on. However, the others all ended their day prematurely.
In true Garett Hall fashion, the Norm’s Used Cars #94 quietly found his way to third shortly following the restart, putting himself in prime position to finally win at Hickory after two near misses.
With 18 laps to go Butcher’s race took a bad turn while running second. When asked about the incident by Racing America’s Zach Evans, Cole wasn’t sure what happened. “I think a tire may have went down…I could hear it bottoming (out) every lap I thought maybe a packer had fallen out or something silly. I honestly don’t know; it just went straight into the turn three wall. It was a pretty hard hit but we’ll come back next time”.
Butcher’s elimination set Garret Hall up with an opportunity to contend with Byron for the late race restart. Byron powered away but with just two laps to go Ben Rowe#4, Jake Matheson #52 and Isaac Bevin #7B went for a spin setting up a two-lap shootout.
Byron would take the victory over Brandon Barker #88, Garrett Hall #94, Derek Griffith #12G and Joey Pole #4NH.
The 33-year-old Joey Pole is the eldest driver finishing in the top five and his experience has earned him four consecutive top five finishes in the Easter Bunny 150s. Pole theoretically was one of the drivers Byron was nervous about after seeing the fast times from last night. Byron was watching lap times on race monitor and felt he had never run that fast. In his post-race interview he gave shoutouts to both Cole Butcher and Brandon Barker – a credit to the caliber of competition on the Pro All Stars Series. Byron said he will use the Easter Bunny victory as a confidence builder going into his event at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday March 20th, 2022.
After the twin 150s PASS teams will head home to prepare for the 48th annual Icebreaker at Thompson Motorsports Park in Connecticut on Saturday, April 2nd, 2022. The Icebreaker weekend will also consist of a visit from the American Canadian Tour with multiple local divisions from Sunoco Modifieds to Mini Stocks. Sunday April 3rd will feature the Outlaw Open Modified Series Icebreaker 125. A great weekend of racing to open up the season in New England. Tickets will be available for purchase at the gate, and for those unable to attend, it will be live-streamed on Racing America.
|SUPER LATE MODELS at HICKORY
UNOFFICIAL RACE RESULTS – 3-19-22
|1) 24 – William Byron – 150 Laps
2) 88 – Brandon Barker – 150
3) 94 – Garrett Hall – 150
4) 12G – Derek Griffith – 150
5) 4NH – Joe Polewarczyk Jr. – 150
6) 13 – Austin MacDonald – 150
7) 60 – DJ Shaw – 150
8) 61 – Gabe Brown – 150
9) 29 – Trevor Sanborn – 150
10) 4 – Ben Rowe – 150
11) 74 – Ryan Moore – 150
12) 52 – Jake Matheson – 149
13) 7B – Isaac Bevin – 149
14) 72 – Ryan Kuhn – 149
15) 32L – Treyton Lepcevich – 148
16) 09D – Jeremy Davis – 148
17) 1 – Kyle Desouza – 148
|18) 12 – Rodney Brooks – 147
19) 53 – Cole Butcher – 131
20) 96 – Wyatt Alexander – 126
21) 09P – John Peters – 118
22) 43 – Nick Locen – 117
23) 42 – Kyle Reid – 116
24) 17MA – Eddie MacDonald – 116
25) 21 – Joshua King – 116
26) 66VT – Jason Curtis – 96
27) 7C – Tyler Church – 73
28) 83 – Corey Hall – 68
29) 7CT – Cory Casagrande – 62
30) 18S – Michael Scorzelli – 3
31) 10 – Kate Re – 2
32) 24J – JP Jociasse – 1
DNS – 32J – Nick Jenkins
(not sure of original author of article or photographer, if anyone knows, please let us know so we can credit them here)