It’s that time of the year once again, time to get ready for Championships to be decided and “Big race” season to begin. Starting with the 41st Annual Bobby Isaac Memorial at Hickory Motor Speedway, a Labor Day tradition in the Catawba County area. As always, this race never disappoints, this race the past year or two has fell off with the car count, but that bounced back with a vengeance this year.
To kick off our Race22 coverage of the night, the Paramount Auto Group Limited Late Models took the track for Round 9 of 10 in the Paramount Kia Challenge Race Series with a 50-lap affair on deck. Monty Cox would have the pole position, alongside would be fellow Hickory veteran Jeremy Pelfrey.
Cox would take control of the lead immediately with Pelfrey in tow. On Lap 20, Pelfrey had saved some of his #51 B.Watson Trucking ride early and would get by Cox’s #21 with relative ease. Cox would continue to lose positions and would eventually fall back to 4th and settle their. Meanwhile, Tyler Gregory and Dylon Wilson started making some heat through the field and would find themselves in 2nd and 3rd for the moment.
On Lap 45, disaster would strike for Gregory as the steering knuckle would break while running 2nd closing in on Pelfrey for the lead. This would set up a five lap shootout to decide who would win this contest. On the restart, chaos would take place as Dylon Wilson spun the tires on the restart causing a chain-reaction and Monty Cox ended up being the big looser on that as he would slam into the back of Pat Rachels and causing huge damage to the #21.
Another restart would take place and it went much better for the field this time. Jeremy Pelfrey would be able to get the advantage and pull off the win. Dylon Wilson would be able to hang on for a 2nd and Pat Rachels with a strong run coming home 3rd.
Race22 interviewed Pelfrey after the race and his comments were:
“We won it last year, and we were trying like crazy to win it back-to-back this year and it paid off with help from Dexter Canipe, Will Walker and all my guys. We are gonna try and conclude the points championship and it ends in two weeks.”
Up next is the Bojangles’ Late Models for 150 laps to honor the “late-great” Bobby Isaac.
Fourteen year old Ty Gibbs and Justin Carroll would lead the 20-car field to the green flag. It wouldn’t take long for things to get heated up as Philip Morris had to start deep in the pack got collected with Kevin Leicht with Charlie Watson involved as well on Lap 6. Caution laps would count in this event until lap 130 then at that point only green flag laps count.
On Lap 15, young Gibbs would lead the field back to the green with Carroll and the rest of the pack in his back pocket. On Lap 25, a caution would come out again as lapped car Tomas Pasceryak would get caught up in the middle of the leaders as they were lapping him causing him to spin around.
Green Flag would come back out for the field around the lap 30 mark in the race. As the cars were riding saving tires and equipment, Ty Gibbs started to ride off into the sunset. On Lap 80 Justin Carroll would put the “cross-hairs” Gibbs and would get by him quickly and take control of the lead for the next 49 laps.
On Lap 128, the caution would wave again for a car near the back of the pack with some trouble. On Lap 130, the contest would resume for a 20 lap shootout, Josh Berry and Anthony Alfredo made their charge to the front and Berry would get around Carroll with around 15 to go. Berry would never look back and go on to win. Alfredo would come home 2nd with Justin Carroll with a solid 3rd place effort.
Berry said, “We started off the year a little slow with mechanical problems and wrecks, but we’ve had a good year and got some momentum going into Martinsville in a couple weeks.”
Josh Berry has pretty much won everything there is to win in Late Model Stock Car competition, except the biggest race of the year at Martinsville. This statement that Berry spoke of just shows how much he wants to win that race and how hungry he is to win it.
Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris both made rare appearances to Hickory, both struggled just a little trying to get a hold of the worn out surface of HMS. Pulliam was able to snag a 7th out of the night. Which could hurt him in the National Points race, depending on what happens with Trevor Huddleston on the other side of the country.
Morris however, had a rough go at it for his first appearance, he would eventually bring home a 12th after a rough day.
Regardless, the Bobby Isaac Memorial is always a success at Hickory Motor Speedway. If a driver earns at trophy at “America’s Most Famous Short Track”, they have definitely earned that victory.