THE 2021 FALL BRAWL AT HICKORY MOTOR SPEEDWAY
It’s that time of year. When the die hard racer and his team come out and run their last races of the season. It’s not for points now. It’s for the love of racing. If there’s a trophy to be had, and especially the quintessential “big check” to be given out, the true racer is going to want and come take it. It’s in their blood. It’s just what they do. And this race…well, it’s the Fall Brawl at historic Hickory Motor Speedway. The check is $6,000 to the winner of the main event. And the trophy, not only the most appropriate for the race we’ve ever seen, is right up there as one of the coolest we’ve ever seen as well. And it’s the Brawl, so, the racing is guaranteed to be intense. You as a race fan should know, this event at Hickory Motor Speedway, always lives up to it’s name. And this year was no different. The big guns came out to play. And with no points on the line, they went at it. It was indeed a brawl between heavyweights. As we arrived at the track, people were already filing in. What’s to be noted about that is that for this time of year, it’s a bitter cold outside, with the winds doubling down on the chill. But these fans, just like the drivers and their teams, are die hard short track racing fans. They know the significance of this great event, and they weren’t going to miss their chance to see some of the best in the business go head to head at arguably the most historic short track in all of America. And I want to say right here that we salute you guys that came out to the race and sat in the cold because of your love for the sport. It was heartwarming to see by those of us who share your passion.
It was evident to me immediately as I went down through the pits. These guys were here to have fun, but they were deadly serious about going for that trophy. It’s what they came here for. And they’re all convinced they’ve got a great shot at it. And to me, it’s already evident that these guys are going to be racing hard here today, and with the experience on hand, there’s definitely going to be some great racing. After a day of practice, and through the rounds of tight qualifying, it becomes more clear that this will also be a day of speed, with a track record broken, and high lap times throughout these stellar fields. The pre-race ceremonies are commenced as the Speedway welcomes the dedicated crowd of race fans here today, and the track pays tribute to some of it’s own who need remembrance. And the invocation is spoken in acknowledgement, and the National Anthem is sung (A heartfelt thank you to Hickory Motor Speedway for giving me the honor of singing our National Anthem at this prestigious event.). And the racers and the fans are ready to see these drivers and teams battle it out for victory in one of the biggest and most prestigious races of the year, here at the end of the 2021 short track racing season. So, Let’s Go Racin’!
HERITAGE FINANCE STREET STOCK DIVISION FEATURE
The # 21 of 2019 Hickory Street Stock champion Drew Cox sets a new Street Stock track record of 16.295 seconds to take the pole for this one. Veteran # 48 Gary Ledbetter starts second, # 5 Jesse Clark third, # 03 Kevin Eby fourth, and # 31 Derek Fowler fifth. The flagman brings them down, likes what he sees, and we’re green for the first race of the Fall Brawl! Right away, Ledbetter shows his muscle and clears Cox for the lead on the outside. Behind them, Eby is able to power by Clark. But Clark gets right back by as the # 2 of Ethan Johnson takes his ailing machine to the pits and is done for the day. Clark’s machine is really starting to come in as he looks to the inside of Cox for second, but Cox tries to hang on to the outside. But Clark gets by anyway and sets his sights on Ledbetter. Mark Johnson in the # 29 is able to power by Fowler for fifth as Clark is getting ever so close to Ledbetter. As the white flag waves, Clark turns up the wick. He sends it into turn three but it’s not enough as Ledbetter takes the checkered first. Clark comes home second, Cox third, Eby fourth, and Mark Johnson fifth.
PARAMOUNT AUTO GROUP LIMITED LATE MODEL DIVISION FEATURE
25 of some of the best Limited Late Model drivers came out to Hickory Motor Speedway for the Fall Brawl, and all of them only have one thing in mind…to win The Brawl and raise the coveted trophy in triumph. The # 9 of Charlie Watson makes the first move and takes the pole with a lap of 14.949 seconds. And as an indicator of how strong this field truly is, that’s a track record for Watson and his team, and to note, the time for the entire field is as close as you can imagine. # 14 Akinori Ogata will roll off second with # 12 Mason Ludwig third, # 15 Ryan Millington fourth, and # 71 Katie Hettinger rounding out the top 5. The Hickory Motor Speedway flagman gives the signal, and the competitors double up and prepare to go racing.
Watson brings them down at a brisk pace, and drops the hammer in the middle of the restart zone. The flagman likes the view, and the green is out in the Limited Late Model feature. Watson clears by Ogata early as the # 97 of Michael Bumgarner gets by Hettinger for fifth, and Ryan Millington clears Ludwig for third and immediately starts to put pressure on Ogata for second. He also shows that he’s here to race today as he leans on Ogata who fights hard for the position, but Millington gets a good run and passes for second, and Ludwig follows him through to third. Now Bumgarner moves in on Ogata, but they both have to navigate past # 25 Ricky Parker as the field has already started lapping cars and are setting a blistering pace up front. And as they maneuver past, Ogata and Parker get together in turn three, and Hettinger gets collected in the fray with nowhere to go. Somehow Ogata escapes and retains his position but Hettinger is not so lucky and has to pit to address the damage she sustained. She’s joined by Parker who’s team gives the car a look over, and # 30 Jordan McGregor and # 00 Kyle Barnes also come down to make adjustments to their machines. Virtually no track cleanup means a short caution, and the flagman gives the signal and the field doubles up for the restart. Watson chooses the bottom with Millington to his outside, followed by Ludwig, Ogata, and Bumgarner restarting as your top 5.
Watson gets a good start, but Millington is there with a run on the outside. Millington moves ahead but Watson is not ready to give up the point and he dives back underneath, and the two lean on each other for the spot, but the battle is interrupted by the yellow flag as Katie Hettinger has come to a virtual stop trying to get to pit road with a flat on her machine. Under caution # 28 Clark Houston joins Hettinger on pit road, as his team goes to work making adjustments to try and find some more speed for his machine, and again, with virtually no track cleanup, we have a short caution as the Hickory Motor Speedway flagman doubles up the field for the restart. Again Watson will bring them down from the inside, as the Speedway refers back to the previous lap before the caution, and Millington restarts to his outside, followed by Ludwig, Bumgarner, and Ogata and your top five. And the crowd is alive with excitement as everyone knows the battle for the lead is going to be intense with Watson and Millington ready to battle for supremacy up front. Watson again gets a great start as the flagman looks over the field and waves the green to resume the battle. And again, Millington is there to Watson’s outside and the two run side by side with neither of them giving an inch up front. Bumgarner gets by Ludwig for third, as Ludwig tries to dive back under to retain the position, but Bumgarner holds him off and sets his sights on the leaders who are still two wide for the point. Millington finally gets the advantage, as Ludwig isn’t done with Bumgarner yet, and again dives to his inside, and makes it work moving back into third. But again the caution waves, as # 22 Max Price had worked his machine in position to battle with Ogata and the two tangle and come together in the middle of one and two behind the leaders. Both have to bring their cars to pit road for repairs, and are joined by Ricky Parker who’s team is still trying to find some speed for this race, so far unhappy with the performance of their machine. The track crew has a bit to cleanup this time, but it’s just some sheet metal and so again they have the track prepared in no time and we are set to go back racing.
For the first time, Millington will bring them down from the point, and he chooses the outside in a brilliant tactic we’ve seen all year, protecting his flank on this double groove track, and prevent a run from his competitors from the high side. Millington gets a good start, and the official flagman gives the nod and we are back to green. Millington gets clear for a moment, but Watson’s not having it, and he dives back underneath, but once again we come back under caution as a huge pileup manifests in the second half of the field as the drivers in the group were working to join the front half of the field and got all wadded up in turn three. Involved are # 71 Katie Hettinger, # 25 Ricky Parker, # 28 Clark Houston, #22 Max Price, and # 15T Tristen Barnes. Houston, Price and Barnes come down pit road for repairs as the track crew gets to work, but Barnes is done for the day. After the cleanup, the Hickory Motor Speedway flagman gives the signal to double up and prepare to go back racing, and again Millington chooses the outside to protect his flank on the restart. Watson lines up to his outside with Ludwig, Bumgarner, and now the # 58 of Daniel Moss rounding out the top five. Again Millington gets a great start and he clears Watson as Ludwig and Bumgarner run side by side for third. # 17 Skyler Chaney moves into the fray and he clears Moss for fifth. Ludwig clears Bumgarner and Chaney follows him past to run fourth. Up front, Watson dives back under Millington and again they battle side by side for the point. An amazing race up front for the point has defined this race, as the field go to battle behind them in an effort to put themselves in position to challenge for the win at the end of the race. Watson edges back ahead as Millington tries the cross over, but here on lap 63, # 42 Zack Wells gets into # 32 Nick Waycaster spinning him around, and Waycaster is none to happy about the move, and he brings his machine hot through the field looking for Wells, but then, and we assume that someone on the radio talks him out of what he’s thinking, and before he can get to Wells’ car he thinks better of what he may have intended for Wells and he brings his machine to the care of his crew. He’s joined on pit road by Parker, who’s team is still working to improve that ride, and # 28T Dennis Trivette who also is looking for some adjustments. No real track cleanup needed so in short order, the field gets the signal and we are doubled up for the restart.
Watson takes the nod from Millington, and he now starts from the outside as Millington drops to the bottom underneath, followed by Ludwig, Chaney, and Bumgarner rounding out your top five starters. Watson brings them down, the official flagman likes the view, and we are back underway in the Limited feature at the Fall Brawl. And up front, again the leaders go at it like a couple of heavyweights as they run side by side for the lead once again. Bumgarner gets under Chaney for fourth, and here comes # 00 Kyle Barnes who moves under Chaney for fifth. Katie Hettinger brings her machine down pit road and parks it as the team just can’t overcome the damage sustained during the event. Mark it down to attrition and add it as part of the process of elimination that a brawl of this magnitude exudes. And she is followed shortly after by Akinori Ogata who’s machine has just sustained too much damage to be as competitive as they would like. Up front, the epic battle for the point continues as Millington clears for a moment, but Watson dives right back underneath, and then he clears for a moment, and Millington crosses him over and dives back underneath. These guys have gone at it tooth and nail, and when you think about how long they can keep it up, it just gets increasingly more intense, as these guys are flat out going at it, trying to wear each other down. They are putting on one whale of a show for the crowd here today. At the same time, Kyle Barnes has now caught Bumgarner, and the two are in a hard battle for fourth, allowing the # 25H of Graham Hollar to close in as well. He’s been on a steady run to the front, and he sits just outside the top five waiting to make a move. Barnes gets impatient with Bumgarner and moves him up out of the groove and then dives in underneath as Hollar follows him through to fifth. The # 22 of Max Price brings his machine down pit road, and up front, Ludwig makes a move on Millington for second. But as they battle up front and throughout the field, the # 42 of Zack Wells is stopped in turn three as he tried to make it onto pit road but couldn’t get cleared down through the group of hard racers, bringing out yet another caution on lap 87.
Wells retires his machine, and the track gets things back in order quickly, and we are ready to go back green. You already know however, that with just thirteen laps to go, if it’s even possible, this already hotly contested race is fixing to intensify even more. Watson will bring them down from the front, and he again takes the outside with Ludwig starting underneath, followed by Millington, Barnes, and Hollar rounding out the top five. The field gets a great restart and the official Hickory Motor Speedway flagman agrees and we are back under green. Watson inches ahead for a moment, but Ludwig leans on him and hangs to the inside, looking like he might be able to edge ahead up front. But on lap 92, as that battle heats up, behind them the big one happens, and half the field is involved. Bumgarner gets into the back of Barnes and sends him around in turn three, leaving a bulk of the field nowhere to go. Many of the drivers are able to pull away, but as the track crew works on the cleanup, # 25 Ricky Parker, # 13 Chase Murphy, # 23 Reilly Doyle, # 00B Ronnie Buckner, # 32 Nick Waycaster, and # 00 Kyle Barnes come down pit road to the attention of their crews. Cautions breed cautions, and it’s amplified in this race at this point.
The race has already endured a number of cautions due to the competitive nature of the event, but after this pileup, we are subject to a couple of quick cautions as the cars deal with wreck damage, or just drivers unwilling to settle for their position late in this big event. Ricky Parker has a tire issue bringing out the next caution, and on the following restart, Nick Waycaster goes around trying to make up ground. A few cars retire before # 6 Ricky Dennie and # 40 Chase Ratliff tangle in turn three, and on the following restart, Ratliff goes around trying to make up the ground he lost. And on lap 96, Barnes gets impatient with Waycaster and turns him around in turn four, and that finally sets us up for the run to the checkered. Watson is still in charge up front, but not after a couple of strong challenges from Ludwig as Millington had the best view of the action right behind. But just before the last caution, Millington had worked his way back to second, with Bumgarner fighting his way to third, Ludwig still there in fourth, and Skyler Chaney setting himself up to fifth. Watson has changed tactics late, and now restarts on the inside, leaving the challengers to try the outside groove. Surprising to me this late in the race as the drivers now have severely worn tires and it’s going to be hard to hold the bottom as we’ve seen all year. But Watson knows what he has, and all I know for sure is that it is going to be one exciting finish. Watson brings them down, and drops the hammer with a great start, and the official Hickory flagman agrees, and we are under green to decide it. And as they did earlier throughout the event, Watson and Millington are two wide for the lead with Ludwig and now Chaney looking on, unable to make a move on the leaders. The two lean on each other hard, but race clean until Millington finally inches ahead and gets clear, as the field goes for broke behind him. Watson comes home second, Ludwig third, Chaney fourth, and Michael Bumgarner for an eventful fifth, with a blanket on the field for position behind them and Daniel Moss getting into the wall coming to the line. What a race!
CAROLINA PRO LATE MODEL SERIES DWIGHT COPP SR. MEMORIAL 100 SPONSORED BY HOME ESSENTIALS CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE
Fan favorite # 71 Katie Hettinger clocks a 14.743 second lap to claim the pole in the Championship Finale. But the invert is 4, putting # 4 Leland Honeyman starting first, # 12 Jake Crum second, # 43 Nick Loden third, Hettinger fourth, and # 13 Erik Nash fifth. The flagman brings them down, likes the formation, and we’re green for the final points race of the season! Crum gets the jump over Honeyman and claims the lead early. Hettinger immediately gets to work, getting by Loden for third. The # 48 of Tovia Grynewicz had been having problems all day, and brings his car down early on, ending his race prematurely. Up front, Honeyman is all over Crum, and takes over the top spot. As the laps tick off of the board, Honeyman pulls out to an outstanding lead. But major trouble behind as points leader Nick Loden blows up on the frontstretch! This brings out the caution on lap 35 as Loden limps his car to the hauler, hoping he has enough points to lean on. # 10 E.J. Tamayo takes advantage of the caution and heads to the pits to make some adjustments. Up front it’ll be second place points runner Honeyman up front, with Crum to his outside. The flagman surveys the formation, is pleased, and we’re back underway.
Honeyman and Crum are dead even as they battle for the lead. Right behind, Erik Nash is able to take the third spot away from Hettinger. But here comes Hettinger right back as she wrestles the spot away from Nash. Back up front, Honeyman is finally able to clear Crum for the lead. But the caution is back out as Jacob Perry in the # 21 slams the wall hard going into turn 1. Honeyman decides to try a different strategy up front and takes the outside for the restart. Crum will start alongside as the green drops yet again. Crum takes Honeyman up high in turns 1 and 2 and takes the lead for the time being. But Honeyman won’t be denied and immediately takes back the lead. Hettinger takes advantage of Crum’s lost momentum and gets under him for second. She gets it but Crum nudges her out of the way immediately to take back the second spot. # 24 Penn Crim seems to have a problem and takes his hot rod down to pit road. He is unfortunately done for the night. As Honeyman starts to pull away again, the battle for second starts to heat back up. Hettinger is all over Crum, and gets under him going into turn 3, but she goes around vying for the spot. Nash and # 18 Landon DeVaughn barely miss her as the caution flies. It’ll be Honeyman VS. Crum again as the flagman looks them over, and we’re green yet again.
As Honeyman and Crum go to war, DeVaughn knicks the wall behind them but keeps his machine going without issue. Crum gives Honeyman all he’s got, but Honeyman won’t be denied his first win and clears Crum. Behind him, Hettinger is already back up to fourth, and takes the third spot from Nash. She’s now all over Crum, and they make contact. They’re able to gather it back up as Hettinger amazingly takes the second spot. But there’s not enough time as Leland Honeyman is a bridesmaid no more and takes his first career Carolina Pro Late Model Series win. Hettinger comes home second, Crum third, Nash fourth, and DeVaughn fifth. Despite winning the race in dominating fashion, Honeyman comes up just short in the points as Nick Loden is officially crowned the 2021 Carolina Pro Late Model Series champion.
THE FALL BRAWL HERITAGE FINANCE LATE MODEL STOCK FEATURE
And now it’s time for the main event, the 200 Lap Fall Brawl here at Hickory Motor Speedway. The signature race for this historic speedway. For treasure and pride, but most importantly the prestige of winning this great event, and adding their names to the list of greats that proceeded them. And so the field for this race is as stellar as you would imagine. # 88 Doug Barnes Jr. runs the fastest qualifying lap and sits on the pole followed by the # 15 of Mitch Walker starting second, # 15M Ryan Millington third, # 95 Jacob Heafner fourth, and # 24 Mason Diaz rounding out the top five.
Barnes gets a great start as Walker settles in behind, and Heafner clears Diaz, with # 44 Justin Johnson and # 47 Chase Janes following him past, while Millington starts to fade immediately. Diaz gets his footing and then moves back by Janes for fifth, but just shy of the 20 lap mark, # 77 Logan Jones is slow and is unable to make it to pit road, bringing out the first caution of the event. The track crew gets him pushed to his crew, but he’s done for the day, as the # 21 of J.P. Dyar uses this opportunity to come in and let his crew take a look at his machine. The track crew checks the track for fluid, but the speedway wastes no time getting the teams ready to go back to green in this long event, as caution laps count, and they want to have as many green flag laps as they can muster. Barnes will lead them down, followed by Walker, Heafner, Johnson, and Diaz as your top 5 on the first restart. Barnes leads them down and gets a great start, as the flagman concurs and we are back underway in the 2021 Fall Brawl.
Barnes again clears up front with Walker settling in behind, as Heafner and Johnson go two wide behind for third. Heafner clears, as Dyar brings his car to pit road and parks it, and we are two cars down early as we already begin the process of elimination. But on the track, Diaz gets past Johnson as # 40 Taylor Satterfield follows him past. And then the drivers play it smart and settle in single file, saving their cars for when they need them later in the race. But on lap 50, # 12 Annabeth Barnes Crum has to come to a stop in turn three, unable to clear down to the bottom and make it to pit road with a flat right front on her machine, and we are slowed for the second caution of the race. Millington takes advantage of this break, bringing the car down to the attention of his crew as they had been losing spots right from the beginning of the event. Again the track works hard to get the field back under green as soon as possible, and he flagman gives the signal to double up and get ready to go back to green. Barnes is still in command up front, with Walker, Heafner, Diaz, and Satterfield rounding out the top 5 at this point.
Barnes leads them down and gets a good start as the flagman likes the view and we are back underway. But Walker wants the view of seeing the track from the front, and he battles Barnes for the point and gets himself clear. Barnes doesn’t want to spend any laps looking at Walker’s back bumper and he battles back to the front. # 8 Carson Kvapil begins to make his way to the front, and soon he is going by Satterfield for fifth. Again the field then settles back in to save their stuff and make a good green flag run, still feeling out what they will need to do to get their machines faster during the halfway mark break synonymous of this event. And on lap 94, the # 41 of Whitney Meggs has trouble with her machine, and also not being able to clear to pit road, comes to a stop in turn 3. Annabeth Barnes Crum comes back down pit road and parks it, as Meggs is pushed in and rolls her machine in front of the hauler as well. And we run caution laps until the halfway break, and the field brings all the machines down pit road and to the attention of their waiting crews.
As we come back for the second half of the race, Barnes will lead them back to green, with Walker, Heafner, Diaz, and Kvapil heading the battle up front. Barnes brings them down, the flagman looks them over, and we are back underway for the second half of the Fall Brawl at Hickory Motor Speedway. Barnes again gets a great start, but this time Walker slips up high and Heafner and Diaz take advantage and move past. And here comes Millington. His car’s come to life, and he moves in under Kvapil and clears for fifth. But on lap 110, a huge wreck ensues on the front stretch as the drivers start to pick up the pace. Janes, # 55 Isabella Robusto, # 1 Trent Barnes, and # 7 Jeff Sparks are all piled up before the turn one tire barrier. The track crew has their hands full and immediately get to work cleaning the track of cars and debris, as Satterfield and Janes make their way to pit road. But Robusto, Trent Barnes, and Sparks are done for the night, and we continue the process of elimination. And you can feel it. The teams are gearing to go at it in earnest, and under caution the drivers are adamantly cleaning their tires in anticipation. Again Barnes will lead them down, with Heafner, Diaz, Walker, and Millington ready to challenge. Barnes gets a good start, the official flagman concurs, and we are again back under green for one of the biggest races on the 2021 season in our region.
Heafner challenges on the outside as he and Barnes go toe to toe for the point. Heafner inches his nose in front, but as he moves to clear in the middle of one and two, he comes down half a lane to clear, but at the same time Barnes moved up a half lane to keep him on the outside, and the two make contact, and are both around and into the wall. What a turn of events. Two of the fastest cars, both with an outstanding shot at winning here today, take each other out in a bid for the front, leaving Diaz, who had the best view of anyone of the incident, out front for the first time in the race. An early Christmas gift for the # 24 team. Luckily, no other cars are involved, but what an unexpected turn of events here in the Fall Brawl. Heafner rushes to the window of Barnes to ask him what happened, but both drivers are out of this great race, and are the next contributors to the process of elimination.
As the track crew cleans the track and clears the debris, Janes brings his car to pit road again to make further repairs, and # 28 Ryan Glenski brings his car to the front of the hauler, and further adds to the process. But again, the track crew gets the track ready quickly, and the flagman gives the signal to double up and get ready for the final run to the finish. Walker will lead them down for the first time tonight, as after caution here at Hickory Motor Speedway, they resort back to the previous lap before the caution, where Walker had the slightest of leads over Diaz who will roll off second, followed by Millington, # 6 Mike Darne, who is making a great run here in the final stages, and Johnson who finds himself now rounding out the top 5 starters. Walker brings them down to green and gets a good start, confirmed by the official flagman who drops the green, and we are ready to settle the 2021 Fall Brawl.
Diaz immediately challenges, and he leans on Walker as the two make contact, and Diaz comes out in front. Behind them Darne and Millington battle for third. Millington clears as Johnson now gets into the fray and clears himself by Darne for fourth. And here comes Kvapil by Darne on the outside battling for fifth. Kvapil then moves outside of Johnson for fourth, and sets his sights on Millington for third. Kvapil looks good on the outside as he battles Millington for the spot. Millington puts up a fight, but Kvapil clears for third and Millington will have to settle for fourth, as Satterfield moves past Johnson for fifth. But up front, no one has an answer for Diaz up front. He saved his stuff early, watched as the leaders crashed in front of him late, battled his way past Walker for the lead, and then separated himself from the field, taking home the prestigious Fall Brawl here at Hickory Motor Speedway, joining an elite group of drivers that have conquered this great event.
What a show! The Fall Brawl was everything we hoped for and more. We saw Gary Ledbetter go up against the best in our area in the Street Stocks and do what we’ve seen him do all over the region, and that’s win in amazing style. We saw the Limited Late Models put on one of the best races of the year, and I say that without a hint of resignation or exaggeration. Those guys put on an amazing show for the fans. And I should say here that the central east coast Limited Late Model contingent has got to be at the top of the list in the country. Everywhere we’ve seen them in the region, they have put on an outstanding show. We think Steve Zacharias putting together the All Pro Limited Late Model Series is quite genius really, or at the least a case of remarkable timing, as the experience and talent of the Limiteds in our area is second to none at this time. But in this race in the Fall Brawl here at Hickory Motor Speedway, the Limited’s 2021 season all seemed to culminate in one epic race. And we saw the Late Models face off in a head to head amazing battle of attrition, where Mason Diaz’s CARS Tour experience paid off in huge fashion, waiting for the coast to clear before he made his move and pull away for outstanding victory.
The leaders went to battle up front, as throughout the field, as the Fall Brawl demands. There will be no inch given in this race as the title infers. During the race, at one point, announcer Jason Sherrill commented during one of the incidents on track that this race for some reason seems to come down to a race of attrition and he wondered on why that was, but I think he knows why, as everyone who came to see this grand event already knows before the green flag falls that this is no regular show. It’s racing combat for supremacy. You can’t just say you’re the best. In this race, you have to show it. No points tabulation. Only a win will do. And with that we can address the one incident that was the perfect example. On the restart after the halfway break, leader Doug Barnes Jr. and Jacob Heafner lined up side by side on the front row and led the field to green. Heafner got a great start with leader Barnes, and he inched ahead on the outside going into one and two, but as Heafner moved to claim his position for the lead, at the same time, Barnes moved to take his shot at remaining in the battle, and they both ended up going for the same spot on the track at the exact same time. Now, if you’re a Heafner fan, you would say that Barnes took him out. But if you’re a Barnes fan, you’ll say Heafner came down before he was clear. But if you’re neutral, you saw two guys going for the lead in a race called the Fall Brawl. One of those racin’ deals. And Diaz had the best seat in the house.
There was only one points race on the night, and that was the season ending points race for the Championship for the Carolina Pro Late Model Series. Leland Honeyman dominated the race in his bid for the title, taking the pole and winning on double points night, but the stars lined up perfect for Nick Loden, and he retained just enough points to secure the title, bolstered by four wins on the season, and helped by a crazy set of circumstances that befell some of his fellow competitors. There were 17 confirmed entries for the race, but by race time the number dwindled to 11 as drivers missed flights due to travel woes out of their control, had mechanical issues, or were in some instances hampered by the virus we have all come to know all too well. And so that added to the theme of the race as well, as in many respects, the Fall Brawl became a process of elimination, where at the end, the strong that night, were the only ones left standing.
And in an event such as this, it was also a demanding choice for our Blue Collar Racer Of The Week, as the battles were fierce, and the competition immense. But after all was said and done, we could not deny the performance of Ryan Millington and his team. Doing double duty, Ryan went on to fight for all he was worth in the Limited feature, spending most of the race two wide in battles for the lead, getting shuffled out of the point at a crucial time toward the end of the race, only to battle back for the amazing win. Then he went to battle in the Late Model main event, falling back early, but fighting his way back through the stellar field, finishing fourth overall. Two top 5’s including a win in one of the best races we’ve seen all year, in one of the biggest shows in the country is a performance we couldn’t ignore, and garners Ryan Millington and his team our nod for Short Track Report’s Blue Collar Racer Of The Week. We’ll have an exciting announcement soon on our choice for Blue Collar Racer Of The Year as we get ready to prepare for our last live event of the year, but until then, as always, See You At The Track!
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