Story by: Corey Latham ~ [email protected]

Check out Photos from the race at

Newton, NC(June 21, 2012) — While the Late Models may be the feature division at Hickory Motor Speedway, the Limited Late Models stole the show this past Saturday night with a normal 35 lap event. And by “normal” I mean 25 cars starting, two red flags, a fight on the track, the leaders crashing with a handful to go and the guy who started dead last came home the winner. It was one of the classics that will go down in the record books at Hickory.

Why so many cars? Who knows, it a was normal night and a normal distance event yet the field was as large as a touring event for most series. Although there were a few new faces, most were Hickory regulars and those that didn’t race all the time, it just seemed the ones that race sparingly showed up on the same night to have some fun. One newcomer was Roger Pitts who had moved up from the Street Stock division, he did it in fine fashion taking the pole over Jeremy Pelfrey, Shane Lee, Zach Breunger and Jacob Marlowe. Pitts would make his first start a memorable one for sure.

At the drop of the green it got crazy, just like we knew it would. Cars were everywhere, two by two and at different places in the field three-wide, it was really amazing we didnt wreck every car we had on this night. Pitts and Pelfrey would have a great battle for the lead until we get to lap five when Brandon Atkinson gets some contact from Charlie Watson turning him in front of the entire field. Casey Peirce would pile in with nowhere to go along with Michael Buckner but Atkinson would get the worst as his night was done.

On the next restart it takes….ohhh about three seconds for it to get wild again as Bruenger dives to the inside of Pitts and Pelfrey making it three wide for the lead going into turn one, they make it out of turn two and Bruenger takes the lead with Pelfrey ducking behind then Pitts. Meanwhile Jacob Marlowe is side by side with Dan Moore as they bounce off each other numerous times around the track. The craziness comes to an end once more on lap 12 as Nelson Canache gets turned off turn four by Jason Stanly as cars spin to avoid. You could only hold your breath for a few laps at a time in this race.

Bruenger and Pelfrey would take off on the restart as Shane Lee gets punted high and loses nearly five spots to go back to tenth. The rest of the field stays on top of each other as every lap the crowd sits on edge, it looks as if the three wide racing and cars being against the wall are actually what is keeping them straight, they would hit something since they were so close to each other keeping them heading forward and not spining. Lap 21 see’s the leaders get into some action as Pitts begins to press the issue as he gets to the bumper of Bruenger for the lead after bypassing Pelfrey a few laps earlier. He knocks him sideways and they race two abreast for numerous laps, neither giving an inch. The caution comes out once more for a spin on lap 23 but not before Pitts is scored as the leader once more.

Pitts would take off on the restart to take the lead once more as Breunger tries to get to his bumper, he had not forgotten about the aggressive bump that Pitts had given him a few laps earlier. The pack behind them is a mess, three-wide, cars being knocked high out of the groove, some brake checking going on, it all comes to a head on lap 29 as we have a terrible crash off turn four. Josh Bralley, Michael Bucker and Dillon Houser crash hard on the frontstretch, the Bralley and Bucker machines nearly destroyed. Houser slid in late busting his radiator, he was making his first ever start in racing and had the name “Harry Hogge” above his window, the character from the movie “Days Of Thunder”…… gotta get cool points just for that.

After a lengthy cleanup from all the fliud on the track we get back to racing, and we notice a car towards the front that had quietly made his way through the field. Travis Byrd, driving out of the DHR racing shop had qualified well but was deemed too low in post qualifying tech, making him start shotgun on the field, He had dodged all the carnage and passed cars at the same time and was now running in the top five, coming from 25th it would have been a great night just being in that spot, but he wanted more. He would get more very soon.

After the restart Bruenger and Pitts but on another great battle for a few laps only to be slowed by caution once more with four laps to go. This is where it gets ugly. The Pitts machine had been loose the entire night and a little aggressive making contact with more than one car, as they raced hard for the lead coming to three to go Bruenger slips in front but Pitts would force the issue off turn four getting into him and shooting him up the track. They go down the frontstretch with Bruenger on the outside when Pitts squeezes him into the wall, Bruenger comes back down into Pitts but shoots back up the track and into the turn one wall hard taking Landon Huffman with him, both cars destroyed. Bruenger would show his displease as the cars sat under the red flag with him going to the Pitts machine and giving him some punches through the window as crews and cops come onto the scene in a hurry. A few were escorted out of the track as the crowd goes wild. Obviously Bowman Gray had followed me to Hickory on this night.

Now it sets up a Green-White-Checkered, and who was on the outside of Pitts now? Well that would be Travis Byrd, the same guy who started shotgun on the field but was now in contention for the win. With the green in the air Byrd holds his own to the outside, they get to turn three looking at the white flag and once more Pitts runs him up the track just as he had done the others but Byrd doesn’t budge and keeps digging in the high line. Still side by side through turn two for the final time and Byrd gets the good jump on the high side and slips in front, Pitts tries to get to his bumper in turn three and four but just misses nearly wrecking himself as Byrd takes the checkered flag.

This was one of those “You had to see it” races, words can’t really describe the action that was on the track for this one. Although not on the same scale, Byrd’s drive to the front was reminiscent of Matt McCall in 2009 when he started last to win the Dwight Huffman Memorial race. While McCall had 177 laps to get the job done, Byrd had just 35 and nearly the same amount of cars, it was really one of the best perfermances in Hickory Motor Speedway history, and to myself, one of the best races I’ve ever watched. Hickory has become the place to be once more boasting car counts better than anywhere, and racing action that hasn’t been seen much in other places this season.

1. (7) Travis Byrd
2. (21X) Roger Pitts
3. (51) Jeremy Pelfrey
4. (22) Dan Moore
5. (00) Shane Lee
6. (9) Charlie Watson
7. (07M) Jacob Marlowe
8. (5) Christian Calvo
9. (21) Monty Cox
10. (24) Ryan Salomon
11. (18) Casey Pierce
12. (37) Chris Phipps
13. (71C) Nelson Canache
14. (19) Benji Woodward
15. (57) Barry Helms
16. (02) Jason Stanley
17. (55) Zachary Bruenger
18. (75) Landon Huffman
19. (10X) Bryan Weatherman
20. (22X) Kenneth R. Pardue
21. (07) Joshua Bralley
22. (95) Michael Buckner
23. (11) Dillion Houser
24. (8) Greg Wise
25. (15A) Brandon Atkinson