Story by: Langley Austin ~langley@RACE22.com
Hickory, NC(June 23, 2009) — To say that Andy Mercer is on fire at Hickory Motor Speedway this season would be an understatement and Saturday night, June 20th he turned in a heroic performance to claim his tenth straight win.
On Saturday night the field was stacked against Mercer as 2008 Bobby Isaac Memorial race winner, Coleman Pressley, UARA-STARS Series race winner, Paddy Rodenbeck and regional hot shoe, Brennan Poole were among the 15 other cars that made up the field for the 100-lap event. Poole, who drives for FatHead Racing, which is owned by former Hickory dominator, Jamie Yelton, looked as if he may be the only guy up to the task of beating Mercer.
Poole qualified outside the front row right along side Mercer, but on a night when the deck was already stacked against him, Mercer accepted a challenge put forth by one of the track’s sponsors to move to the rear of the field. Mercer was first offered $500 by the sponsor, but replied with a simple “make it $1,000 and you’ve got a deal” … Mercer’s counter offer was accepted by the track and the challenge to start dead last and win was on.
Mercer certainly knew he had the car to beat, by how well he qualified, but it was still a bold move on his part as he had to pass 15 of the best Late Model Stock Cars anywhere. The race rolled to a start and Poole put his FatHead Racing, Marlowe Racing Chassis out front and looked to be the class of the field, but Mercer was on the move from the back of the pack.
Mercer moved into the top five by lap 31 and continued his charge to the front as devastation was coming to many of the front runners. On one of the many double-file restarts with Mercer running second to Poole and on the outside the two made contact which set off a huge crash that sidelined some of the top running cars. Involved in the crash was Dexter Canipe, Jr., Josh Wimbish, David Wilson, James Goff, Neil Meredith, Cole Miktuk, Paddy Rodenback and JR Allen.
The crash looked to have destroyed Rodenbeck and Canipe’s cars for sure and certainly gave the crews of the other teams a lot of work to do before the next race. This crash left only nine cars on the track for the run to the finish just shortly after halfway, but up front it was getting ready to be “All Mercer … All the Time”.
Mercer took the lead away from Poole soon after the restart and set sail into the lead before being slowed by a series of late race cautions. The cautions set up double-file restarts for the run to the finish, but for Poole his good run was about to come to an end. Poole knocked the shifter knob off on a lap 47 restart and that subsequently caused him to miss a shift late in the race, knocking the youngster out of contention for a top five finish.
Mercer kept his nose clean getting to the front of the field and he was able to stay out front once he got there in his Pistone LTO Chassis giving him his tenth straight win in 2009. The streak that started in the second race of the season after he fell just a few feet away from victory in the season opener.
Behind Mercer’s, Coleman Pressley recovered from having to go to the rear of the field to finish second with Ty Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner, Richard Childress third. Kyle Moon survived to finish fourth his first top five finish in at least two seasons with Ashley Huffman recovered from an early spin to finish fifth.
1) Andy Mercer
2) Coleman Pressley
3) Ty Dillon
4) Kyle Moon
5) Ashley Huffman
6) Jesse LeFevers
7) Brennan Poole
8) JR Allen
9) Neil Meredith
10) James Goff
11) Paddy Rodenbeck
12) Dexter Canipe, Jr.
13) Cole Miktuk
14) Josh Wimbish
15) David Wilson
16) Grant Wimbish