The old saying, “you only need two cars to make a race” held true on Saturday night at the birthplace of NASCAR stars. Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) was the backdrop for a final 30-lap dogfight that no one saw coming. With only 10 cars in the field, many expected a runaway. Instead they got a show, and a good one at that.
The players were pole sitter Landon Huffman, who had led 50 laps the week before and didn’t visit victory lane after an altercation with another driver. On this night, he was the leader up until a late race restart.
Also in the mix was last week’s winner Matt Piercy, who was seeking his second win of the young season. Piercy had followed Huffman all night long.
The final player was last year’s Paramount Kia Champion and track champion Josh Berry. The JR Motorsports driver had to start shotgun on the field after a post-qualifying infraction.
With Huffman leading of the restart Berry turned under Piercy to take second. He then dueled Huffman for 20 laps either side-by-side or three wide as Piercy looked underneath and found room on several occasions.
With seven laps to go Berry slid up in turn three sending Huffman for a loop. Berry got the lead and later the win after the final restart. Huffman charged back to fifth despite the spin.
“We were both struggling for grip and he would go high for the run off so I would go up and try to do the same,” said Berry. “We got together and he went around. I like Landon and I hate that happened to him. I don’t race dirty, but it’s just a part of racing when you are running that hard and you’re sliding around that much.”
Huffman remained cool on the track and after the race he pulled alongside the winner and revved his engine to show his displeasure of the incident. After the race he spoke his mind to Speed51.com.
“We have worked our tail off to be able to run with the 88 (Berry),” said Huffman. “Josh took it upon himself to run into us every lap because he couldn’t get by. The 25 (Piercy) came in and was racing us three wide and Josh took us out. Now I know how he races me and he can expect the same in return.”
Berry knows that he could be expecting some revenge from Huffman in the future.
“At the end, some contact sorted it all out,” said Berry. “One day the shoe will be on the other foot and I will have to look back to tonight and remember what happened.”
Matt Piercy had the best view of the night watching the two leaders while occasionally making it three-wide for the lead.
“It was a good night for us,” said Piercy. “I have never had so much fun running second. If we keep this up we are going to have a great year.”
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com