SWEETWATER, TN — Cory Hedgecock of Loudon, TN swept the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series season opener on Friday night at I-75 Raceway driving the Eagle Racing Engines Rocket. Hedgecock was the fast qualifier with a new track record, and then led all 40 lap of the main event to capture his first career NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series victory.
“It feels good to finally win one of these NeSmith Late Model races and to do it here close to home is even more special,” Hedgecock said. “We’ve led a lot of laps in these races, but we could never get the win. This is how you like to win races by setting fast time and then leading all of the laps.”
Riley Hickman of Cleveland, TN finished second in the Hickman Manufacturing CVR, and John Ownbey of Cleveland, TN took the third spot in the Sam’s Restaurant Equipment Special. Richie Stephens of Smith Station, AL was the Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Race after a fourth-place effort driving the K&J Trucking Special.
Chase Edge of LaFayette, AL drove the Edge’s Gas Company Special to a fifth-place finish, and Scott Dedwylder of Vossburg, MS was sixth in the Scott’s Body Shop Special. Donald McIntosh of Dawsonville, GA finished seventh in the Billy Kennedy CVR, and Brandon Williams of Crossville, TN took the eighth spot in the Autozone CVR.
Jeremy Shaw of Millport, AL started 21st in the Summit Resources Trak-Star and finished ninth to earn the Beyea Headers Hard Charger of the Race Award. Jason Manley of Loudon, TN rounded out the Top 10 in the Mighty Muffler and Brake CVR.
The top nine qualifiers broke the track record of 13.552 seconds set last season by Matt Henderson of Loudon, TN. Hedgecock took Fast Time honors with a lap around I-75 Raceway in 13.302 seconds for a new track record. In other preliminary action, the two ten-lap B-Main Races were won by Anthony White of Clinton, TN in the Stone Plus Special and Williams.
Hedgecock took the lead at the drop of the green flag followed by Hickman, Henderson, Edge and Ownbey. On lap two, Henderson tried to drive his Rebel Diesel Duayne Hommel Tribute Rocket to the inside of Hickman to challenge for the second spot in turn three. The two cars got together and spun, triggering a multi-car pile-up and bringing out the first of five caution flags.
Henderson was ticketed with the caution flag and had to go to the rear of the field for the Dixie-Style Double-File Restart. The field went back to green flag action, but not for long, as the defending and three-time NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series National Champion Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN cut down a left-rear tire on lap four.
On the restart, Adam Gauldin of Talladega, AL spun his Adam Gauldin Racing GRT out of the eighth spot in turn two. Michael Blount of Sumrall, MS cut down a left-front tire on lap five to bring out the fourth caution flag. Hedgecock had Hickman, Edge, Ownbey, Stephens, Dedwylder, Ross White of Knoxville, TN in the R.T. Clapp Professional Car Care Special, Williams, McIntosh and Shaw doubled up behind him for the restart.
When the green flag came back out, Edge, Ownbey and Stephens broke out three wide in turn two to battle for the third spot. By the time they got back to the start/finish line, Stephens held the third spot with Ownbey in fourth, and Edge fell back to the fifth spot.
Hedgecock reached the cars on the tail of the lead lap by the 12th lap, and Hickman began to chip away at the leader’s 12 car-length advantage. With Hickman on his rear bumper, Hedgecock got a break when the fifth and final caution flag came out on lap 27 with Gauldin stalled on the high side of turn two.
Track conditions led NeSmith Late Model officials to call for a single-file restart with Hedgecock leading Hickman, Stephens, Ownbey, Edge, Dedwylder, McIntosh, Williams, Shaw and Manley. On the restart, Ownbey got to the inside of Stephens in turn three, and he then drove under the Rocketman coming off the fourth turn to take the third spot.
Hedgecock once again encountered lapped traffic on lap 35 and Hickman closed in and looked like he was going to make it a hard fought battle to the checkered flag. Hedgecock was up to the challenge, as he was able to put a lapped car between himself and Hickman with three laps to go. That move sealed the deal for Hedgecock as he took the checkered flag with a 1.532 second margin of victory.
The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series returns to I-75 Raceway on Saturday night for Round 2 of the 2016 season with a $2,500-to-win 50-lap main event.
For more information and rules about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series web site at www.nesmithracing.com, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing. Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month. You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 1 AT I-75 RACEWAY IN SWEETWATER, TN ON 4/8/16:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS $ WON
1. 1 23 Cory Hedgecock Loudon, TN 40 $2,000
2. 2 R1 Riley Hickman Cleveland, TN 40 $1,000
3. 7 J0 John Ownbey Cleveland, TN 40 $700
4. 3 00 Richie Stephens (R) Smith Station, AL 40 $550
5. 4 18 Chase Edge LaFayette, AL 40 $500
6. 10 33 Scott Dedwylder Vossburg, MS 40 $425
7. 13 K37 Donald McIntosh Dawsonville, GA 40 $375
8. 12 95 Brandon Williams (R) Crossville, TN 40 $350
9. 21 1s Jeremy Shaw Millport, AL 40 $325
10. 8 32 Jason Manley Loudon, TN 40 $300
11. 5 H2 Matt Henderson Loudon, TN 40 $275
12. 23 25 Justin McRee Woodstock, AL 40 $250
13. 20 32h Greg Huskey Knoxville, TN 40 $225
14. 22 19 Marcus Minga Shannon, MS 40 $200
15. 14 15 Jason Britton (R) Alexander City, AL 39 $175
16. 19 00m Ruben Mayfield Lenoir City, TN 39 $150
17. 24 121 Michael Blount Sumrall, MS 38 $140
18. 17 5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN 38 $125
19. 15 30 Ryan King Seymour, TN 37 $125
20. 6 0 Ross White Knoxville, TN 25 $125
21. 9 17 Adam Gauldin (R) Talladega, AL 25 $125
22. 16 22 Will Roland (Y) Jasper, GA 3 $125
23. 18 10 Matthew Turner Dawsonville, GA 3 $125
24. 11 2x Anthony White Clinton, TN 1 $125
-NeSmith Media Press Release
-Photo Credit: Bruce Carroll