We can’t say it enough. If you forget where you come from, you’ll forget where you’re going. We remind ourselves of that everyday. It’s true that in our quest to cover the very best short track racing in the region, we spend a lot of time covering tour racing. It’s just a fact that in most cases, tour drivers compete at the top of their game with the goal in mind to advance to the highest levels the sport provides. But for those drivers, if they’re successful, in most cases they started at the grassroots level. And so from time to time, you’ll even hear the Cup Series drivers talk about their home tracks. They know that to understand how they got where they are, it’s important to remember where they started that journey. More and more successful drivers at the top of their game are returning to the short tracks where they started. And when they do, they remember how fun it was. The truth is that at the top it’s all about business these days. But at your local short track, it’s still all about family and the love of the game.

Every year, we make it a point to remind ourselves as we make our coverage schedule that no matter where we find ourselves, we will always make room for our regional short track’s local shows. After all, it’s what the sport founded itself on as they quietly looked to their future on superspeedways. Before Daytona, it was Bowman Gray and Hickory. And as the sport grew and moved away from their foundations, they did, and still to this day, draw their talents from where they always have, the local short tracks. And for us here at Short Track Report, we couldn’t think of a better place to start our local short track coverage than at where it all started for us, Tri-County Speedway. Eight races of short track adrenaline highlighted the track schedule for this weekend, and once again we are reminded why we do what we do. Let’s take a closer look at all the action from Saturday night in Granite Falls, North Carolina.

VINTAGE FEATURE

After qualifying his # 53 Street Stock on the pole at Hickory Motor Speedway, Cody DeMarmels makes the quick drive over to Tri-County to pilot his father’s # 0 Vintage machine. He’ll put on an absolute clinic in the process, grabbing the win over the fast # 8 hot rod of Bob Hapeman and the # 39 of Mark Whitten. DeMarmels would go on and win the Street Stock feature at Hickory, making it a great Saturday night for Cody.

FRONT WHEEL DRIVE FEATURE

Randy Hupp in the # 54 will roll off first ahead of the # 42 of Scotty Gosnell, # 17 Jackie Stone, # 2B Skyler Brown, and the # 27 of defending track champion James Powell. Flagman Travis Louk looks over the competitive field, likes what he sees, and we’re green for the Front Wheel Drive racers! Hupp gets the jump as Powell is on the move early, moving all the way up to second. Gosnell’s race is off to a rough start as he falls all the way to sixth, allowing Jason Garwood in the # 46 to break into the top five. The caution will fly early though as the # 2 of Rayna Holland spins in turn two. Hupp continues to lead accompanied by Powell, Stone, Brown, and Garwood. Hupp once again gets a great launch as Garwood makes quick work of both Brown and Stone, moving into third. But ahead, Powell makes his move for the lead, and Garwood is there as well, kicking Hupp to third. Powell’s lead doesn’t last long, as Garwood dives underneath. Powell fights back on the outside, but it’s not enough as Garwood clears. Stone moves up a position to third with Hupp now falling in the clutches of Brown. Hupp and Brown have a great side by side battle but Brown will clear in the end. But now he kisses the wall! That allows Hupp to get back alongside, but the battle is broken up as the # 81 of Dewayne Smith spins in between one and two. Garwood will restart up front followed by Powell, Stone, Hupp, and Brown. Garwood executes a perfect restart with Hupp and Brown once again dueling for fourth. They bang doors and now Brown goes around in four, bringing out another yellow! That’ll give Powell one last chance at Garwood, but Garwood clears on the restart as Gosnell moves into fifth. Stone’s car begins to come alive late, using lap traffic to his advantage and getting around Powell after splitting a lap car three wide. But up front, it’s all Garwood as he’ll take the win. Stone comes home second followed by Powell, Hupp, and Gosnell.

LEAPFROG LANDSCAPING CROWN VIC FEATURE

The # 12 of Kyle Dubeau will lead the field to green ahead of a stacked Crown Vic field with the # 22 of Jacob Hickman starting alongside. The # 0 of Jacob Hayes rounds out the top three as we’re green for the wild Crown Vics! Dubeau jumps out to the early lead as Hickman and Hayes fight for second. We’ll come to a halt early however as the # 40 of Cheyenne McIntosh loops it in three and four. We’re back green in no time though as the # 16 of Chandler Barker will move into second behind Dubeau. There is so much action in the field that I can’t even keep track of it as Barker now makes a move for the lead. Dubeau will barely hang on as now we’re three wide for second with the # 95 of Alex Vance coming into the fray! The battle simmers down to just Vance and Hayes with Vance getting around and setting his sights on the lead. Caution number two will fly as the # 1 of Nathan Franks comes to a stop at the top of four. Dubeau leads, Vance sits in second with Hayes in the wings in third with only a handful of laps to go. Dubeau and Vance are gridlocked on the restart, with neither one giving an inch. The fans jump to their feet though as Hayes makes it three wide for the lead! They’re all under a blanket on the white, but Hayes pops a tire! Dubeau is still there with Vance, but he pounds the wall off of two! That gives open road to Vance who comes home the winner in a chaotic finish to collect a cool $500 bonus from LeapFrog Landscaping. The # 76 of Jon Morton emerges to finish second followed by Dubeau in third.

MINI STOCK FEATURE

The # 50 Mini Stock of Terry Torrence lines up on the pole ahead of # 57 Dennis Trivette, the # 46 of Front Wheel Drive winner Jason Garwood, # 1 Shane Canipe, and the # 10 of Tim Canipe. Louk looks the pack over, likes what he sees, and we’re racing! Trivette clears for the lead early but it doesn’t last long as both Shane Canipe and Tim Canipe move into first and second. Trivette falls to third followed by Garwood and the # 61 of Jamison Whittington, with Torrence tumbling back to sixth. Garwood powers by Trivette as the # 17 of Jackie Stone, another driver pulling double duty, goes up in smoke and stops in turn four, bringing out the caution. Under the yellow, Shane Canipe dives down pit road for some quick adjustments. That’ll shuffle the top five some as Tim Canipe remains the leader followed by Trivette, Garwood, Whittington, and Torrence. Tim Canipe gets a fantastic launch as Trivette falls back to fourth. While one Canipe tries to build a gap on the field, the other is trying to come through it as Shane flies by Trivette for the fourth position, then setting up Whittington for third. Whittington’s day falls even further as he’ll come down pit road and is unfortunately done for the day. Back on track, Garwood is trying all he can to pull off a double win night. But here comes Shane Canipe, dancing in Garwood’s mirror and eventually making the pass to make it a Canipe 1-2. It’ll stay that way for the rest of the race as Tim Canipe grabs his second win in a row followed by Shane Canipe, Garwood, Trivette, and Torrence.

RENEGADE FEATURE

Defending Renegade champion Klint Townsend in the # 9 machine starts on point with the # 13 of Jarrett Anderson starting in second followed by the # 22W of Michael Waldrop, who rounds out the top three. Townsend gets a phenomenal jump as the # 24 of Mike Shelton and the # 16 of Steve Smart are on the move, disposing of Waldrop and Anderson without issue. While Shelton experiments with different lines to find a way to Townsend, the Smart machine is under attack from the # 28 Cale Yarborough throwback of Gary Ledbetter Jr, with both drivers just sweeping the top two in Hickory Motor Speedway’s Renegade feature. Ledbetter Jr sets Smart up perfectly and makes the pass, taking third away while Townsend remains in front. Shelton continues to try all he can, but it’s too little too late as Townsend collects another Renegade trophy ahead of Shelton and Ledbetter Jr in the # 28.

STREET STOCK FEATURE

The always popular Tri-County Street Stocks hit the track with former track champion # 14 Davey Smart rolling off first. The beautiful # 54 Bob Pressley throwback machine of Marvin Miller will start second accompanied by the # 96 of Maxx Porter in third. Louk gazes over the fast pack, approves what he sees, and we’re racing! Smart gets the jump as Miller is immediately under attack from Porter, who takes the spot and brings the # 03 of Kevin Eby with him. You can put the top three under a blanket as Smart, Porter, and Eby are all nose to tail. Porter looks once, twice, three times, but Smart keeps shutting the door. But now there’s a problem with Smart! He slows, causing the field to stack up with Miller spinning to avoid any carnage. Smart will head to the pits as his night ends prematurely. The stack up will jumble the top three with Porter now your leader followed by Greg Grindstaff in the # 3 and James Dolan in the # 4. Porter shoots out with the advantage as Mike Hatton in the # 12 looks to the outside of Grindstaff. But coming out of turn two, Grindstaff comes up and Hatton is there, sending both into the wall hard! That’ll put us under the red flag as thankfully both drivers are okay. After everything is cleaned up, the top three consists of Porter, Eby, and Dolan. Porter once again gets a gigantic restart as Miller will take third position from Dolan. But soon after, Miller ducks down to the pits, giving third back to Dolan. None of that matters to Porter though as he takes his first career Tri-County Speedway Street Stock victory ahead of Eby and Dolan.

HONEY HUSH BOUTIQUE OUTLAW FEATURE

A great field of Outlaws have converged to Tri-County today as the # 26 of David Messer will start on the pole. Rounding out the top five will be defending winner Shelfon Clay in the # 15, # 77 Ruben Caceres Jr, # 4 Kevin Leicht, and the # 92 of defending champion Martin Nesbitt. Louk gives the thumbs up and we’re green in the Outlaws! Clay finds the grip on the outside and will clear for the lead as Leicht moves to second quickly ahead of Messer. Caceres Jr starts to fall back a bit as the # 1X of Tyler Church assumes fourth ahead of Nesbitt. Church is on a mission, now looking underneath Messer. He’ll take that spot with Nesbitt trying to sneak in as well. Messer will lose another position to Nesbitt as here comes the # 27 of fastest qualifier Lee Tissot. Messer defends the best he can, but it isn’t enough as Tissot will enter the top five. Ahead, Church pokes his nose underneath the Leicht machine, but Leicht shuts the door. Church will make it stick the next time as they battle side by side for multiple laps. Church finally clears the # 4, but now has a tall task as Clay has managed a steady gap. But Church is fast, closing in on Clay ever so slightly. But every time Church closes in, Clay opens it up a bit more. Church gives it one last ditch effort, but it’s just not enough as Clay will go back to back in a fast and furious race. Church crosses the line second followed by Leicht, Nesbitt, and Tissot.

LIMITED LATE MODEL FEATURE

With a field full of 20+ cars, anticipation is at an all time high for tonight’s Limited Late Model event. The # 18 of Casey Pierce qualifies the fastest with a great time of 15.889 seconds. But a five car invert will put the # 9 car of William Aldred on the pole. Starting second will be former track champion Austin Harris in the # 59, starting third is the # 25H of Graham Hollar, starting fourth will be dirt star Taylor Reimer in the Lee Faulk Racing And Development # 25, and starting fifth will be fastest qualifier Pierce. Flagman Louk looks over the fantastic field, loves what he sees, and we are green for fifty action packed laps! Harris will jump out to the early lead as Hollar moves to second ahead of Aldred. The racing is already heated behind as Pierce looks on Reimer for fourth, but can’t make it work quite yet. The caution will fly early as the # 42 of Owen Wilson slides into the outside wall in turns three and four. After the first choose, Harris remains the leader ahead of Hollar, Aldred, Reimer, and Pierce. Harris and Hollar get near identical restarts as they drag race for an entire lap. Behind them, Aldred and Reimer drag race as well as the entire top four is two by two for multiple laps in an absolutely amazing sequence of laps. Behind them, former track champion Zack Franks in the # 1 moves into fifth as Harris eventually clears for the lead. But Hollar crosses him over! The fans are on their feet but the yellow will fly as Eric Wallace in the # 12 and the # 33 of Coleman Chapman spin in turn four. Both are able to drive off as Harris lines up first followed by Hollar, Reimer, Aldred, and Franks. The green flies but is immediately rescinded as debris is found on the backstretch. We try it again but this time the officials don’t like the restart. The third time is the charm as Hollar will now clear for the top spot. Behind, Pierce looks under Franks for fifth and gets it as Hollar is getting hounded for the lead.

Harris is all over Hollar, but here comes Reimer as she dives underneath Harris going into one. And they make contact, sending Harris around! The crowd lets their feelings known as Harris will have to go to the rear of the field after spinning. For the restart, Hollar continues to lead, now alongside Reimer on the front row followed by Aldred, Pierce, and Franks. Hollar fires off nicely as Taylor Nesbitt in the # 92 will kill two birds with one stone, passing both Franks and Pierce. Hollar now has company as Reimer starts to move around in his mirror, pressuring him in every turn. Soon enough, the two are side by side, but it’ll have to wait as the # 14 of Don Carlton, the # 33 of Roger Lee Nance, and the # 27 of Ethan Johnson spin wildly on the frontstretch. It’s thankfully a quick caution as Hollar and Reimer make up the front row with Aldred in third, Nesbitt fourth, and Pierce fifth. Hollar once again gets a great restart, but all Reimer needs is a few green flag laps and she’s there on his bumper. Nesbitt moves into third as Reimer makes her way under Hollar. Everyone is on their feet as both drivers are giving it everything they have! And they hit going into one! They both spin with Hollar slamming the outside wall and Reimer hitting the inside wall! The crowd goes nuts as that’ll give Nesbitt the lead on the restart. Hollar and crew are none too happy as they go and discuss things with the Lee Faulk team. Things are understandably heated, but nothing gets out of hand as Aldred will line up behind Nesbitt followed by Pierce, the # 17 of Archie Adams, and Franks. The officials disagree with the first restart, but the second restart is good as Aldred is able to muscle the lead away. Pierce takes away fifth as Nesbitt is diving into three very hard each and every lap. She gives it one last go on the final circuit, but she can’t get there as William Aldred survives to grab the victory. Nesbitt gets a hard earned second, Harris comes all the way through the field to take third at the end, Adams guts out a fourth, and Pierce hangs on for fifth.

MY TAKE

Over the past twenty years, NASCAR’s top tier series has changed almost beyond recognition. I mention it only to point out that some have a valid concern that at least at the very top, NASCAR might have lost it’s way. Now true that every stock car racing fan has an opinion on that and no matter which side of the fence they are on in that debate, I have to wonder myself at this point if NASCAR is purposely trying to distance itself from it’s beginnings. Unlike in it’s pinnacle era, outside of the throwback paint schemes, you hardly hear them mention their early years anymore. Whether it’s to change their image for a future perceived audience, or for whatever reason it is, it’s still up for debate. But from the Next Gen car to their marketing, it’s again a debate that’s valid. But one thing that’s not up for debate is that the talent that graces their ranks still come from where it always has. Most every driver in the Truck, Xfinity, and Cup Series cut their teeth and learned their craft on local short tracks. And a good number of those did so at the short tracks in the region that it all began. We’ve made a point from the beginning to highlight the best young talent from the central east coast as we knew that in short time, the very best of those would be moving up into the highest ranks of stock car racing.

One of the things we try to get racing fans to understand is that if you want to see how your favorite NASCAR stars got to where they are, you can see the future of the sport at your local short track today. It still amazes us when we watch or cover big league races, how the new drivers are presented with a sense of wonder from those who are supposed to be the “experts”. But still have no clue about the new young talent that is making his “big league debut”. Of course there are people like Steve Post. Guys like him in the industry have our full respect as they know their way to your local race track and they recognize the future talents when they see them. The truth is, local short tracks are the key to the sport’s success. And for those that don’t see that, they need to open their eyes.

So again, we can cover the biggest events on the calendar. But for us, we will never forget that a local short track racing event IS one of those big events. The proof of that was on full display at Tri-County Speedway Saturday night. From the family in the crowd, to the family on the track, it was another reminder what short track racing is at the grassroots level. At a track that had to fight for it’s very existence, we watched racers race for the pure pleasure and love of what they do. Cody DeMarmels driving his dad’s Rat Rod Vintage racer, to Michael and Lee Faulk working to develop a promising young prospect looking to advance up through the ranks. To listening to Landon Huffman talk about his father helping him in his career while Landon himself was helping and fielding a car for another young prospect, to also listening to Crown Vic drivers talk about how fun and cool it is to drive those cars in Tri-County’s newest division. To looking at all the work the Higgins family has done to revitalize the facility in a big way, to not just the track itself, but to bringing the first and currently only Outlaw Late Model division to the region. None of this was easy. It took a lot of bank to make it happen. Not just in currency but in vision. And they have brought Tri-County Speedway not just to what it was, but to a showcase track. And they’re not done yet! Even bigger things are coming to Tri-County and I advise anyone that loves short track racing and come see for yourself why we call this track home.

(Race write ups by Joshua Weatherman. Intro and My Take written by Billy Weatherman. Copyright 2024 SHORT TRACK REPORT)

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