After a pair of late-race confrontations between front-runners, Derek Ramstrom emerged from the chaos to win the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Easter Bunny 150 Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
While Ramstrom celebrated in victory lane, Bubba Pollard and Preston Peltier shared differing opinions on their intense battle for the victory. After several hard-fought laps, Pollard spun after contact with Peltier on lap 138. PASS officials sent Peltier to the rear of the field for his role in the incident, dashing both drivers’ shot at the win.
“It was going to come down to me and Preston,” Pollard told Speed51. “We traded paint back and forth. Just good short track racing. It could have been a good race to the finish.
“It was good, hard racing, and he turned it into something else,” Pollard added. “It could have ended in a good race for the fans, but he wanted to play dirty.”
Peltier felt Pollard crossed the line first in their battle.
“He crossed me over and put me in the fence on the backstretch,” Peltier said. “I don’t care if you’re Bubba Pollard or not, I ain’t gonna take no crap from you. If you’re going to stick me in the fence and I’m not going to win, you’re not going to win either.
“I was going to race him hard,” Peltier added. “Maybe a little rubbing, but I wouldn’t have stuck him in the fence. I think that he thought that’s what he had to do to win. He did it, and that’s where we are.”
Tate Fogleman inherited the lead, but he would also lose it after contact with Corey Heim, which saw Heim penalized for rough driving as well.
“We got the lead on that last restart and just got run over,” Fogleman said. “It kinda sucks when you work that hard and do everything right throughout the race and get run over. He didn’t even try to race me. I guess that’s how people race nowadays.”
Thus, the battle for the win came down to Ramstrom, the winner of last fall’s Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown at Hickory, and Mike Hopkins, a winner at the Commonwealth Classic at Richmond Raceway (VA).
In the end, Ramstrom prevailed, and he couldn’t help but thank his lucky stars.
“Everything panned out in my favor,” Ramstrom said. “The drizzle, the drama, it all worked out in my favor. Between Preston and Bubba, that incident helped me out because they were extremely fast. I don’t know if anyone could have touched either one of those guys. Then it came down to Fogleman and Heim, and those two tangled.”
“It was chaos, honestly,” he added. “The whole race. I wasn’t expecting any of that. I guess sometimes you need a little luck in racing.”
Hopkins was another who ran into misfortune while leading early in the race. He held the top spot in the opening stages but brought his car to the attention of his crew under caution with a vibration.
“I thought a ball joint or something was coming out,” Hopkins explained. “The wheel was back and forth, shaking like crazy. When it lands on the max tire load, it was like I had no power steering.
“I hated to take a chance on a ball-joint breaking and putting us in the fence with a good race car,” he added. “Trust me, it was the hardest thing to do to turn that wheel left to come to pit road.”
Hopkins charged through the field and led the field to the green following the final caution involving Fogleman and Heim, but lost out to Ramstrom in the closing battle.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a hard one to swallow,” Hopkins said. “If I could have started on the top, it would have been a different story. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
Brandon Setzer finished third, recovering from a poor qualifying effort with a car that left him fuming after practice. Even with a podium finish, Setzer wasn’t pleased with his car but felt experience on the tight Hickory bullring played into his favor.
“I don’t know how it happened,” Setzer said about the finish. “The car was not good. The track was so bad in the race, nobody was good. Everybody was slipping and sliding from 30 laps in. It was crazy. It played into our favor a little bit, I’ve got plenty of experience slipping and sliding here.”
Race fans who missed Saturday’s Easter Bunny 150 can watch an on-demand replay of our pay-per-view broadcast by clicking here.
Results – Pro All Stars Series Easter Bunny 150
Hickory Motor Speedway – Newton, North Carolina
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo