Thomas Beane won the 2019 track championship at Hickory Motor Speedway, adding his name to a list that includes some of the greatest stock car drivers of all time. Beane will be back at “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars” Saturday, hoping to rebound from an uncharacteristically disappointing showing last week.
Hickory was able to contest its season-opening event on March 7, with Beane scoring second and fourth-place finishes in twin features, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down racing across the country. Not only did Beane enjoy a strong run that night, he was honored as the track’s newest champion.
At a historic facility which has crowned champions such as Ralph Earnhardt, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Harry Gant, Jack Ingram and many more great names in stock car and short track racing over the years, the meaning of joining that list was not lost on Beane.
“That’s a pretty big deal, to be on that wall with great race drivers,” Beane told Speed51. “It was really special when I was able to put my name on the wall, that was a big deal the first week. There are a lot of great names on that wall. There aren’t many other tracks that can say they’ve had that many great drivers.”
The season resumed at Hickory last Saturday, albeit without fans in attendance, with twin-51 features for the Late Model Stock division. While it was a great evening to go back racing, the results were not what the defending champion hoped for.
“Any day at the race track is better than a day at other places,” Beane said. “It did suck to have such a bad night. It really hurt any chance of points. It was a bad night.”
During the early laps of the first race of the evening, an oil line came loose on Beane’s entry. While his team was able to resolve that issue and return him to the track, the car did not handle the same for the rest of the evening. He would finish 21st and 20th in the two features, dropping him to seventh in the track standings.
After combing over the car during the week and finding no glaring issues with the chassis itself, Beane can only speculate that the oil leak negatively impacted his tires, which are used in both twin features under Hickory rules.
“I had an oil line come loose about lap four into the [first] race,” Beane explained. “I don’t know if it was the oil or something, but something made the tires get really hard. It drove really bad for the rest of the night and we couldn’t make any ground up like we normally can.
“We did a lot of work on the chassis this week, trying to figure out what went wrong. It was an odd ball night.”
After working hard throughout the week to diagnose last Saturday’s issue, Beane has full confidence that he and his team are fully prepared for a new week of racing.
“I think we’ll be good. Nothing’s really changed from the first week aside from it being warmer. We’ve always been pretty competitive at Hickory, so I’m hoping last week was just a weird night with all the work we’ve done this week.
“Hopefully we’ve worked out all the bugs, we won’t have anything strange happen like an oil line coming off, and we’ll be running up front again this week.”
Saturday’s racing program is headlined by twin-40 features for the Late Model Stock Cars. The event will also feature the second round of Hickory’s Paramount Kia Big 10 Racing Challenge for Limited Late Models, a 50-lap race. Joining them will be the Super Trucks for 35 laps and the Street Stocks for 30 laps.
Race fans can watch Saturday’s race on Speed51 for just $14.99. Click here to order your pay-per-view ticket today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo