NEWTON, N.C. — The outside temperature is warming up and this is the sign that spring is coming which will bring an annual tradition to the Greater Hickory Metro that fans are excited to get started once again – NASCAR racing at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The speedway will kick off its 66th season of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition this Saturday with the Cosmo Motors Spring Classic.
Classic is an appropriate name for the event for Americas Most Famous Short. From NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Ned Jarrett, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Isaac, Jack Ingram and Junior Johnson to current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series regular Matt DiBenedetto – many legendary names in NASCAR either called Hickory Motor Speedway home or won races or championships at the .363-mile track.
The next future NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series star could be competing at the track this weekend as Lee Faulk Racing brings their development program back to Hickory Motor Speedway this week. Also, NWAAS Late Model Stock Car driver Ty Gibbs, grandson of Monster Energy Cup Series owner Joe Gibbs will be driving for Greg Marlowe Motorsports.
Headlining Saturday’s season-opening schedule will be the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Bojangles Late Model division in Twin-50 lap features. Other divisions in action include a 50-lap feature for the Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models and a 35-lap feature for the Super Trucks. The Cosmo Motors Street Stocks will battle for 30 laps and the Renegade division will also have a 20-lap race.
The Cosmo Motors Spring Classic will also feature a new starting time of 7:30 p.m. with gates opening at 5 p.m.
For the fourth consecutive season the track will also feature the Paramount Kia “Big 10” Challenge, however 2017 will bring a change as the Challenge has been moved to the Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models. This is a special 10-race series featuring special purse amounts and bonus awards for drivers who compete in the special series to highlight the Limited Late Model drivers.
“We’re very fortunate to have a well-known and established company like Paramount Auto Group to step up and partner with the track to give our competitors a prestigious series and give the fans a great show during this 10-race challenge,” said HMS track promoter Kevin Piercy. “Paramount’s support allows us to give Limited Late Model drivers from across the state and region an opportunity to race for respectable purses and the prestige that comes with being a feature race winner at Hickory Motor
Since Gwyn Staley won the first race held at the track in 1951, the legendary facility has not only served
as a proving ground for up and coming drivers, it also helped some of today’s sharpest minds in the
sport hone their skills either behind the wheel and /or applying that knowledge as a crew chief or pit
Several former track champions have made that a reality with 2004 Hickory Motor Speedway Track
Champion Matt McCall now serving as crew chief for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray.
Shane Huffman (1999) calls the shots for Timothy Peters in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
with Mark Setzer serving as an integral part with Richard Gdovic’s NASCAR Xfinity Series team and twotime
champion (1987 & 1988) Robert Huffman serving as a truck chief in the NCWTS for former NSCS
champion and team owner Brad Keselowski.
Brothers Andy and Marty Houston won track titles in 1994 & 1997, respectively and both currently work
for Richard Childress Racing with Andy currently serving as spotter for NSCS driver Austin Dillon.
“Hickory has a proud tradition of producing talent throughout the world of NASCAR and fans can expect
to see that on track at Hickory Motor Speedway this season,” said Piercy. “Josh Berry has already made
starts for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Shane Lee is coming off a recent 3rd place
finish at Daytona International Speedway in the ARCA race and I don’t see this pipeline of talent from
Hickory stopping anytime soon.”
DiBenedetto, who competed in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Bojangles Late Model division
at Hickory when he was a student at Fred T. Foard High in Newton, has progressed to a full-time ride in
NASCAR premiere division and has proven once again if you can compete and win at Hickory Motor
Speedway you are likely talented enough to climb the NASCAR ladder and make it to one of NASCAR’s
“We work hard to produce a family oriented atmosphere for our fans when they choose to come watch
a race at this legendary track and we’re going to continue in our efforts to make sure their experience at
Hickory Motor Speedway lives up to their expectations when they come to a race,” Piercy said.
Ticket prices for the Cosmo Motors Spring Classic Season Opener are only $12.50 for adults; teen and
seniors are just $10.50 with kids 10 and under free. The track is also offering for a limited time a NASCAR
Whelen All-American Series 20 race ticket pack for just $200.
-Hickory Motor Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Nicholas Stearns