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Dawsonville, GA - The 2017 season has already kicked off for the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series, but the final curtain on the 2016 was drawn at the annual NeSmith Racing Awards Banquet held on January 21st at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Historic Dawsonville, GA. Over 200 attendees were on hand to as the top 10 drivers in the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series Touring Division, NeSmith Weekly Racing Series, NeSmith Performance Parts Street Stock Division, Sunoco Young Guns Challenge, and the Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series were honored for their 2016 accomplishments.
Loudon, TN driver Cory Hedgecock received the coveted NeSmith Cup as the 2016 NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series National Touring Champion. Hedgecock piloted his Eagle Racing Engines/VooDoo Technology Rocket to 6 wins on the Tour to claim his first National Championship. Along with the National Championship Hedgecock also claimed Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year Honors for being the top rookie on the 2016 tour. Hedgecock's father, Chad Hedgecock, also picked up honors for his work on the #23 Rocket as he was named the Chevrolet Performance Crew Chief of the Year.
Tyler Crowder of Lamont, FL picked up the 2016 Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series National Championship and the $10,000 payday that goes with that honor. Crowder had finished in the runner up position each of the last two seasons, but the stars aligned and the 2016 season was the year that his consistency and knowledge propelled him to the top spot. Crowder picked up his first series victory at Cochran Motor Speedway, and then followed that with another win at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN. Crew Chief Stacy Lee was honored as Chevrolet Performance Crew Chief of the Year for his work on the Crowder Excavating #47 throughout the season. Cruise With The Champions Rookie of the Year honors for the Chevy Super Series were picked up by Rome, GA driver Austin Smith who used his steady improvement and consistency to edge the 2016 Rookie Class.
Michael Arnold took the $10,000 NeSmith Weekly Racing Series Championship back to his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi for the second season in a row as he went back-to-back as National Champion. Arnold's season was just one point shy of the perfect 700 points available, but it was enough as he amassed 17 wins, 23 top 5s, and 24 top 10s in 29 races. He also capped off his 2016 season with a win on the NeSmith Touring Series at Greenville Speedway in Greenville, MS. Arnold's crew chief Zach West was also honored for his work on the #4 machine in route to a second National Championship.
16 year old Bryant Marsh picked up the Sunoco Young Guns Challenge Championship for 2016. The Sunoco Young Guns Challenge pits drivers 18 years of age and under against each other for the Championship and the $1,000 top prize. Marsh piloted his Modern Woodmen sponsored Trak-Star Race Car to 6 wins along with 11 top 5s and 15 top 10s to capture the Championship sponsored by the Official Race Fuel of NeSmith Racing - Sunoco Race Fuels. Marsh also placed in the top 10 in the Weekly Racing Series final point standings making 2016 a breakout year for the Corinth, MS native.
Other notable special awards were the Weekly Racing Series Chassis Manufacturer's Championship which went to Trak-Star Race Cars built by Boland Performance in Cuba, AL. The National Touring Late Model Chassis Manufacturer's Championship went to Rocket Chassis of Shinnston, WV. The 2016 NeSmith Weekly Racing Series Promoter of the Year Award went to Tom and Kim Lowery of Southern Raceway in Milton, FL. The Lowery's have taken over the speedway and implemented new changes, with many more in the works for the Florida mainstay.
The Annual Bob Cross Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016 was awarded to NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC for their contributions to short track racing, and their continued support of the sport. NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC, and their award winning parts department, helped in the development of the divisions that race under the NeSmith Racing banner. Their customer support, and unheard next day delivery program lead the way in how to make the crate engine division not only grow, but thrive. The commitment to the series is one that we hope carries on for many more seasons with the expansion of the divisions that are powered by Chevrolet Performance circle track engines provided by NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC.
The attention now turns back to the competition side of things as the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout resumes with the Bubba Army Winter Nationals at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Florida January 25-28th, highlighted by the 100 lap, $10,000 to win 12th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship.
For more information about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, visit the series website at www.nesmithracing.com. You can also follow the series by Liking the Facebook page at NeSmith Racing; following on Twitter @NeSmithRacing; and Instagram @nesmithracing.
Contingency Sponsors Include: Out-Pace Performance, AR Bodies, Crate Insider.com, Gresham Racing Parts, Knowles Racing Parts and Bodies, and FreeStyle Graphix.
Chassis Sponsors are Trak-Star Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis, GRT Race Cars, and CVR Race Cars.