SEYMOUR, TN – Cory Hedgecock of Loudon, TN won the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model 2016 season opener on Saturday night at 411 Motor Speedway driving the Eagle Racing Engines Rocket, but he was very gracious in his post-race Victory Lane interview because he knew the victory was a gift.
Hedgecock assumed the lead on lap 44 of the 50-lap race after dominant race leader Ryan King of Seymour, TN was eliminated from the race in a hard crash that was not of his own making. Despite his race car being destroyed, King walked away uninjured after the crash.
“I knew from the drop of the green flag that I was racing for second because Ryan had us covered tonight,” Hedgecock said. “He made a better tire choice than we did, and when he was in a clean track condition, we was gone and we had nothing for him. I hated he got taken out like he did in lapped traffic. We were gaining on him and I was looking forward to an opportunity to race him at the end.”
King led the first 43 laps of the race in the Brian King Roofing Stinger. He was working in heavy lapped traffic and he tried to go to the inside of Ross White of Knoxville, TN in the R.T. Clapp Professional Car Care Special coming off the fourth turn. White came down on the race leader and hit the right front of King’s car.
That sent King spinning to the infield, and he backed into a large utility tire in the infield that was placed to protect the track scales and the track infield personnel. The impact pushed the left-rear four-bar suspension mounts into the back of the seat.
“I was in a hurry to get through the lapped traffic because I saw Cory one time and knew I had to go,” King said. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that’s just a part of racing. We’ll be back for the next race because I’m O.K. and we can fix and replace these race cars. This was one of last Stinger cars built at J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment. I’ve got to thank Travis Holbert for not only a fast car, but a safe car.”
Tyler Crowder of Lamont, FL finished second in the Crowder Excavating Special and Jake Knowles of Rome, GA drove the Coosa Heating and Cooling Rocket home to a third-place showing after an exciting three-wide battle with Ronnie Johnson of Chattanooga, TN and Adam Martin of Talladega, AL.
Tim Busha of Boaz, AL ran a steady race in the Kilpatrick Racing GRT to take the fourth spot, while the defending and two-time Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series National Champion Johnson was fifth in the NeSmith Chevrolet Special. The 2015 Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year Martin settled for sixth in the Measuring Solutions Special, while his dad Ross Martin of Talladega, AL finished seventh in the Magnolia Place Special.
Oliver Gentry of Newnan, GA was eighth in the Gentry Used Auto Parts and Recycling Rocket, and Jadon Frame of Winchester, TN charged from the 19th starting spot to take the ninth spot in the Poultry Electric/Pro Hardware GRT. Rusty Ballenger of Sevierville, TN rounded out the top ten in the ETE Electric Special.
Austin Smith of Rome, GA finished 12th in the ETI Rocket and was the Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Race. Hedgecock was the fast qualifier with a lap in 14.525 seconds around his home track, 411 Motor Speedway. That earned Hedgecock the pole position for the 50-lap $3,000-to-win main event.
King took the lead at the drop of the green flag from his outside front row starting spot followed by Hedgecock, Crowder, Busha, and Johnson. The first of four caution flags came out on lap eight for debris in turn two. King had Hedgecock, Crowder, Busha, Johnson, Knowles, Adam Martin, Ross Martin, Gentry and Mario Gresham of Rome, GA in the Gresham Racing Parts Special doubled up behind him for the Dixie Style Double-File Restart.
On the restart, Knowles and Johnson battled side-by-side for the fifth spot, and Adam Martin joined the show by dropping to the inside of Knowles to go three wide with Johnson on the outside. The trio raced three wide for four straight laps before Knowles made a bold move on lap 12.
Knowles threw a slider on Johnson in turn one by diving to the bottom groove of the track, and then slide up in front of the nose of Johnson’s race car in turn two to complete the pass and take over the fifth spot. King began to encounter the cars on tail end of the lead lap on the 17th tour with a three-car length advantage over Hedgecock.
The traffic in front of race leader Ryan King of Seymour, TN went away with a caution flag brought out for Ryan King of Anniston, AL, who spun the David King Automotive Special in turn four on lap 17. On the restart, Knowles moved up to the fourth spot by getting around Busha, while Johnson dropped back to eighth.
Smith brought out the third caution flag with a spin in turn two on lap 21. The top ten for the double file restart had King on the point with Hedgecock, Crowder, Knowles, Busha, Adam Martin, Ross Martin, Johnson, Gentry and White doubled up behind him. Knowles and Busha battled side-by-side for the fourth spot on the restart, but Knowles held his ground to keep the position.
King took a half-straightaway lead over Hedgecock into lapped traffic on lap 30, and maintained that advantage for another ten laps before getting into heavier traffic. Hedgecock began to close in, and by lap 42 had closed to within a car-length on the race leader. It all came undone for King on lap 44 after the contact with White.
Hedgecock inherited the lead and was able to keep the rest of the field behind him for the remaining seven laps of the race. Hedgecock took a 1.585 second margin of victory over Crowder at the checkered flag.
The next two events for the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series will be a 30-lap $2,000-to-win race on April 22 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, MS, and a 50-lap $3,000-to-win race on April 23 at Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian, MS.
For more information about the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series visit the series web site at www.525superseries.com, or visit the series on Facebook at Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series.
OFFICIAL RESULTS OF ROUND 1 AT 411 MOTOR SPEEDWAY IN SEYMOUR, TN ON 3/26/16:
POS STRT CAR # DRIVER HOMETOWN LAPS $ WON
1. 1 23 Cory Hedgecock Loudon, TN 50 $3,000
2. 4 47c Tyler Crowder Lamont, FL 50 $1,500
3. 6 66 Jake Knowles Rome, GA 50 $1,000
4. 5 15 Tim Busha Boaz, AL 50 $850
5. 3 5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga, TN 50 $750
6. 11 47a Adam Martin Talladega, AL 50 $700
7. 9 47r Ross Martin Talladega, AL 50 $650
8. 10 03 Oliver Gentry Newnan, GA 50 $600
9. 19 J8 Jadon Frame Winchester, TN 50 $550
10. 13 29 Rusty Ballenger Sevierville, TN 50 $500
11. 16 0 Ross White Knoxville, TN 50 $475
12. 15 84 Austin Smith (R) Rome, GA 49 $450
13. 14 55 Ryan King Anniston, AL 49 $425
14. 8 21 Mario Gresham Rome, GA 49 $400
15. 15 24 Barry Goodman (R) Spring City, TN 49 $375
16. 17 23a Barry Anderson Murphy, NC 49 $350
17. 2 30 Ryan King (R) Seymour, TN 43 $325
18. 12 34 Chad Wallace (R) LaGrange, GA 36 $300
19. 7 44 Colby Kilgore (R) Dalton, GA 6 $300
-NeSmith Racing Press Release. Photo credit: Bruce Carroll