Sunday, October 5, 2014

Champions feature 2

(NOTE: This story features three of Hickory Motor Speedway's seven division champions from 2014.)

Eby’s drive for five succeeds

By Tom Gillispie

Kevin Eby had won four straight Street Stock championships at Hickory Motor Speedway, and he went into 2014 on a mission to win his fifth in a row.

Mission accomplished.

“Not many other drivers have been to accomplish that,” Eby said. “Me and John Settlemyre (the track champion from 1977 to ’81). I’m kind of glad it’s over; this relieves a lot of pressure.”

Eby is one of Hickory’s seven division champions this year; the others are Josh Berry in Late Models and the Paramount Kia Big 10 Racing Challenge; Matt Elledge in 4-Cylinders; Bob Park in Classic Sportsman; Kenneth Roberts in Renegades; Spencer Boyd in Super Trucks, and Taylor Stricklin in Limited Late Models.
Eby says he was able to take the points lead on a night about five weeks ago when Kevin Townsend had engine troubles.
“He came back the next week with another motor, and something else happened to him,” Eby said. “That enabled me to pull further out front, and I was able to stay out front the remaining four or five weeks.”
Eby topped Townsend by 46 points.
Eby who works as a shipping supervisor for Shenandoah Furniture Valdes, says he’ll race again the night of the Fall Brawl and the night they’ll run the X1-R Pro Cup Series at Hickory.
“I also may go to Lonesome Pine (Speedway in Coeburn, Va.) or Myrtle Beach (S.C.) this fall,” he said. “We’ll see.”
Don’t expect Eby to go anywhere next year.
“I’ll definitely be back at Hickory next year to race again and defend my title again,” he said. “I’d love to race in a higher division, but it’s very costly.”

Kenneth Roberts, Renegades
Roberts, who finished fourth in Renegades last year, overcame a disqualification this season to beat his car owner, Darren Dickinson, by 14 points. He says Dickinson wasn’t upset with him.
“No, he took it pretty well,” said Roberts, 46.
He says the championship was no surprise.
“No, that was our goal,” he said. “We worked on it.”
Roberts, a 1986 graduate of Fred T. Foard High School, says he started racing at Hickory in the late ’80s.
“I ran the 4-Cylinder division, but I didn’t do too good,” he said.
He tried dirt for a while, and then returned to HMS five years ago.
Roberts plans to race his Renegade car in Saturday’s Fall Classic, but don’t expect him to win the 2015 Renegades title.
“Next year I’ll move up to Street Stock,” he said, adding that he’s already bought a Monte Carlo in preparation.

Bob Park
, Classic Sportsman
Park said that car owner/engine builder John Betts asked him if he’d like to drive the car. Park said that, if he didn’t run well, they could park it.
“As we got into it, I hadn’t driven since 2004, but we were running good, and I told John, ‘We can win this thing,’ ” Park said.
The 73-year-old Park, one of the newer drivers in the Classic Sportsman division, wound up beating 78-year-old Bill Webb by 14 points. Driving his No. 74 car, he posted nothing but top-five finishes this season, with a win on May 3 and two second-place finishes in August.
Park, born June 30, 1941, is originally from East Northport, N.Y., but now lives in Concord. He is probably best known as the father of former NASCAR Winston (now Sprint) Cup driver Steve Park, but he was called ‘The Traveling Man’ for working a full-time job with a trucking company and still racing all over the country.
He ran six NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide Series) races from 1982 to ’84, plus 198 Whelen Modified Tour races from 1985 to ’97, with one win. He also ran four ARCA races from 1985 to ’87.
When his son was racing the Cup Series for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Park worked as a rear-end/transmission man for DEI from 1999 through 2001.
On his possible re-retirement, Park said, "I'll probably be back next year."

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