Thursday, August 28, 2014

HMS notebook 08/28/14


Big Isaac race set for Saturday at HMS
By Tom Gillispie
Austin McDaniel, the two-time defending track champion at Hickory Motor Speedway, says it would be a big deal to win Saturday’s Bobby Isaac Memorial race.
“(It) would be a huge accomplishment,” said McDaniel. “It’s a big race that has a good history. It will bring some of the best cars around.”
So let’s take a look at this special race.
• The 150-lap Isaac race is Hickory’s longest race of the year.
• Because of a rainout earlier this season, Saturday’s race counts as one of the Paramount Kia Big 10 Racing Challenge races.
• The top four in the 2013 Isaac race haven’t raced much at HMS this year. David Garbo Jr. was the winner, followed by Blake Jones, Jeremy Sorel, Brodie Kostecki and Josh Berry, this year’s season points leader.
• Jesse LeFevers of Lenoir ran eighth last year and was the top finisher among local drivers.
• Thirty-one drivers started last year’s Isaac race, and a 32nd driver, 2005 track champion Keith Bumgarner, was in attendance but didn’t start.
• The night of the 2013 Isaac race, the other division winners were Don Fenn in Classic Sportsman, Shane Lee of Newton in Limited Late Models and Kevin Eby of Lenoir in Street Stocks.
• Dillon Bassett, a seven-time winner at HMS this year, has to be a favorite for Saturday’s race. Dillon’s brother Ronnie Jr. won the 2012 Isaac race.
More Bobby Isaac
Why is the Isaac race important to Late Model driver Ashley Huffman?
“I went through the Bobby Isaac (Motorsports) program at CVCC (Catawba Valley Community College), and he drove for my grandpa, Frank Wilson,” Huffman said. “It was Late Model Sportsman then.”
Through Aug. 18, Huffman was eighth in Late Model points.
If you go Saturday…
• Besides the Bobby Isaac Memorial, HMS will hold races for the Limited Late Models, the Street Stocks and the Classic Sportsman cars.
• Grandstands open at 5, with racing at 7.
• Admission is $16 for most adults, $14 for teens and seniors, free for kids 12 and under.

Results last Saturday
Dillon Bassett of Winston-Salem won both Late Model races. He’s won the last three races and seven total.
In the first Late Model race Saturday, Bassett, Josh Berry, Shane Lee, Ashley Huffman and Anthony Anders finished in the top five. In the second Late Model race, Bassett, Lee, Berry, Austin McDaniel and Chandler LeVan finished 1-2-3-4-5.
Casey Pierce won from the pole for his second Limited Late Model win of the season. Monty Cox, Mark Johnson, points leader Taylor Stricklin and rookie Trent Barnes filled out the top five.
Darren Dickinson of Hickory took the Renegades race, followed by pole-winner Kenneth Roberts, Gregory Austin, Shawn Hayes and Daniel Moore.
Ben Ebeling of Newton grabbed the Street Stock victory from the pole, followed by Chase Pollard, Marshall Sutton, points leader Kevin Eby and Larry Mosher.
Trivia question
Did Bobby Isaac ever start every NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) race during a season?
HMS schedule
• On Sept. 6, twin races are set for Late Models, Limiteds and Street Stocks, plus one 4-Cylinder race.
• On Sept 13, Championship Night, they’ll run a 100-lap Challenge race, plus Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, trucks, Renegades and 4-Cylinders.
• The PASS Super Late Models are set to race on Sept. 20.
• On Sept. 27, the Fall Classic will feature a 100-lap Limited race, plus features for the trucks and Renegades.
Looking at PASS South
After last week’s race at South Boston, Va., Tyler Church of Hickory and Brandon Setzer of Newton remain first and seventh, respectively, in PASS South Series points.
Zane Smith of Maiden has started just three PASS South races but is 21st in points.
Worth noting     
• Just 14 cars started the two Late Model races Saturday at HMS. There were 12 starters in Limiteds, 11 in Street Stocks and 10 in Renegades.
• Ben Ebeling, a part-timer this year, was ranked 23rd in Street Stock points before he won Saturday’s race.
• Bassett and Berry have won seven and five Late Model races, respectively, this season. Berry and William Byron each have five poles.
Whitaker passes
Car owner Ed Whitaker, who died last Friday, had a strong local connection. Whitaker’s teams posted 28 Busch (now Nationwide) Series wins, 20 with Taylorsville’s Harry Gant and eight with Hickory’s Morgan Shepherd.
Whitaker also fielded cars for other big-time racers like Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tim Richmond, Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison.
Worth quoting
Dr. Jerry Punch, on trying to help Bobby Isaac on Aug. 14, 1977, the day Isaac died: “He was my racing hero, and it was to be a special day. I was going to spend it with one of my heroes. He was gone, and I was the last one to see him, to talk to him.”
Trivia answer
Bobby Isaac ran every Grand National (now Sprint Cup) race just once during his career. He started all 49 races in 1968 and posted three wins. During his championship season, 1970, he started 47 of 48 races and won 11 races.
Tom Gillispie, the author of “Angel in Black: Remembering Dale Earnhardt Sr.,” writes about racing at Hickory Motor Speedway for HDR Sports. He can be reached at

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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