Hedgecock Survives late race shootout and lap traffic to claim inaugural "King of the Crate 60" at North Alabama!!
By: Wesley Outland – NeSmith PR – North Alabama Speedway "King of the Crate 60" Race Recap – September 30th, 2017
(TUSCUMBIA, ALABAMA) – Cory Hedgecock has been the competitor everyone on the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Tour in 2017 has been gunning for. The Loudon, TN driver would continue his winning momentum with "America's Leader in Racing" at the 3/8th mile North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, AL in front of an electric crowd at "Alabama's Action Track" for their yearend finale "King of the Crate 60". Hedgecock’s Cushman/Eagle Race Engines sponsored Rocket XR1 chassis was able to survive negotiating through heavy lap traffic many occasions and a late race shootout to claim the $5,000 payday continuing his run for a back to back national championship for.
As a recap from Friday's preliminary action, the Top 16 drivers for the 60 lap A Main were locked in from 4 Heat Races on Friday night. Following the Friday night action, all of the drivers returned for Saturday’s B-Mains and Feature event. While some were damaged and bandaged, they prepared to close out the events and take their final shot to get in the dance with the two twelve lap B-Main last chance qualifiers. #1 Bryant Marsh, whose Trak Star Race Car got on its lid in heat race one Friday was able to come back overnight with his fixed machine and overcome all competition to take the first qualifier. #05 TJ Brittain was also able to overcome struggling handling issues from his car Friday to easily claim the second last chance qualifier. Provisional starts went to #10 Justin McRee and #F44 Heath Johnson and with that the twenty-four car field was set to decide who would be the inaugural "King of the Crates" at North Alabama Speedway.
With the culmination of driver introductions and a special celebration to this great land we live in "America" with the 4-wide salute to the fans with the drivers carrying massive flags of "old glory" ripping the crowd into an epic crescendo, the stage was set for the 60 lap A-Main feature just after 10 pm Central time in Tuscumbia. The opening laps saw #1s of Jeremy Shaw from Millport, AL jump out in his GRT chassis, but that was short lived when the yellow would fly on lap 4 when the #M1 High Roller race cars chassis of Matt Henderson stalled on the backstretch. The restart lasted again only a couple of laps allowing Shaw to pull away again until the #58 of Brandon Shaw would limp to a stop exiting turn two. This restart was the opportunity Hedgecock needed to take the Rocket to the outside diving into one carrying to momentum to Shaw's driver door on the inside exiting two and clearing him going into three to take the stop spot. From that moment, he'd have the "bullseye" on his chest for the rest of the evening.
The BIG ONE happened on lap 11 with Hedgecock still out in front of contenders #66 Jake Knowles, #85 Ronnie Johnson, and #1g Grant Garrison and earlier Shaw who led early fell back into the top five. The #713 Ben Brocato lost it solo entering turn one then shot up the track blocking the pass for all behind which caused a calamity of eight cars taken out in the path. The caution would fall a total of eleven times in the 60 lap feature with some being for debris or cars stalling including: #69 Mike Henn, #10 Justin McRee and #4 Dustin Harris. All the while Hedgecock would still hold on to the P1 position with Knowles, Johnson, #1p Andy Picklesimer, #7w Greg Wilhite all rallying to catch the #23 Rocket. In the process Hedgecock was too figuring out the ways to maneuver lap traffic and open up the lead on the field.
A major turning point would happen in the race on lap 32 when #s4 Seth McCormack, the 7 time NeSmith Weekly Racing Series winner and North Alabama Speedway track champion would have mechanical issues with his BruceBilt chassis having heavy smoke bellowing out the rear end to force him to give up a top ten run and pit. Same song and dance with everyone on the heels trying to run down Hedgecock as he'd sail away and begin the process again of clearing lap traffic to open his margin of lead. With 16 laps to go, caution would fall again when the pole starter Jeremy Shaw, rallying to get into the top five for a late race charge, drove too high exiting turn three causing his GRT chassis to lose control stalling.
On the restart, the same old song and dance continued, however Jake Knowles, Ronnie Johnson, Grant Garrison and even Greg Wilhite were closing and with laps winding down it was time to pounce on the opportunity to pull the upset on Hedgecock. Disappointment would ensue though for the #1p Andy Picklesimer Rocket chassis after what looked like an impressive finish hanging in the top 10 the whole race would have issues stalling in turn two on lap 58. This would bunch up the field for a final “Dixie Double File” restart with clean track in front of the leaders to battle for a green- white – checkered shootout to decide it.
On the final restart Hedgcock defended a move by Knowles making a dive to his inside at the restart line and drove deep to the inside of Hedgecock going into one, staying to the inside off two forcing Hedgecock up top then putting them door to door off turn three for the white flag. Johnson was quickly in pursuit to pull the upset if the two slipped but that wouldn't happen as Hedgecock would prevail the last restart to take the win with Knowles, Johnson, Garrison and Wilhite the finishing top five.
After the conclusion of the race NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Dirt Series officials completed a "full engine" teardown on the winning machine that caused inspection lasting late into the night. At the conclusion, Hedgecock’s winning Eagle Race engine passed with "flying colors" giving him the official title of the inaugural "King of the Crate 60" champion at North Alabama Speedway, "All Hail King Hedgecock".
The stars and cars of "America's Leader in Racing" are back on the road again as part of the 20th Annual Running "Showdown in Savannah" at the Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Pooler, Georgia October 5th, 6th 7th for a event not to miss. Thursday October 5th Open Practice, Friday October 6th $2000 to win full show and Saturday October 7th $3000 to win full show plus much more. There will be further details of this event on our website and social media outlets immediately forthcoming.
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OFFICIAL RACE RESULTS OF THE "KING OF THE CRATE 60" AT NORTH ALABAMA SPEEDWAY:
1st #23 Cory Hedgecock
2nd #66 Jake Knowles
3rd #85 Ronnie Johnson
4th #1g Grant Garrison
5th #7w Greg Wilhite
6th #3 Todd Robinson
7th #05 TJ Brittain
8th #56jr Colton Horner
9th #17 Travis Smith
10th #19 Marcus Minga
11th #1m Bryant Marsh
12th #4 Dustin Harris
13th #72 Steve Russell
14th #102 Dustin Stutts
15th #F44 Heath Johnson
16th #1p Andy Picklesimer
17th #69 Mike Henn
18th #4s Seth McCormack
19th #1s Jeremy Shaw
20th #10 Justin McRee
21st #713 Ben Brocato
22nd #58 Brandon Shaw
23rd #79 Billy Flannagan Jr.
24th #M1 Matt Henderson
NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC is the Official Title Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Chevrolet Performance is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series.
Hoosier Racing Tire is the Official Tire of the NeSmith Dirt Late Model Series. Sunoco Race Fuels is the Official Race Fuel of the Series. Knowles Race Parts and Bodies is the Official Parts Supplier of the Series. Cruise with the Champions is the Official Vacation and Rookie of the Year Sponsor for the Series.
RockAuto.com is an Associate Sponsor of the Series and Official Sponsor of the RockAuto.com Winter Shootout Series. David Smith Carburetors is the Official Carburetor of NeSmith Racing.
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.