April 21, 2014 — Audio, photos and recap by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — HICKORY, N.C. — The hometown hero led at the white flag, but it was the northern invader who stole the spotlight and the spoils of victory on Easter Sunday at Hickory Motor Speedway.
D.J. Shaw, PASS North Super Late Model Series regular, stormed to the inside of hometown favorite and defending Hickory winner Tyler Church coming off Turn 4 on the final lap to score his first career Easter Bunny 150 triumph on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after the race was rained out from its original Saturday evening slot.
“I lost this race last year with Preston [Peltier] for letting him be aggressive with me, and I wasn’t gonna have that happen again,” said Shaw after his first career Easter Bunny 150 triumph. “It’s great to win at a historic place like Hickory, the list of names that have won at this place is incredible. It’s an honor to be on it now, and you know, to win a PASS South race; we’ve been close a couple of times and to finish it off today is great. I just have to thank the fans and PASS for getting it in today and supporting us on Easter.”
“It got pretty dicey there in the last 25 laps,” Shaw added. “The crew gave me a good enough car that after I made a few moves, we had the lead before that late caution. The 7 (Church) tried to steal it from me; he jumped the start there and beat us down into one, and I couldn’t lose it that way. I had to get it back. I just made a banzai run there late, and beat him back to the line in a drag race.”
On the start, it was PASS South rookie Jared Irvan who led the field to green after the redraw of the top ten qualifiers from time trials, with fast qualifier Preston Peltier on his outside after Peltier scored his third career Easter Bunny 150 fast time award earlier in the day.
Irvan would lead the opening laps, but a massive crash on Lap 5, sparked when rookie Harrison Burton and northern regular Trevor Sanborn made contact in Turn 1, collected thirteen cars and forced an early red flag to clean up the race track and remove the carnage. Among the cars involved were Brandon Ward, Ryan Moore, 2014 K&N Pro Series West winner (and winner of the last chance race) Patrick Staropoli, Tate Fogleman, Cole Timm and Brandon Setzer.
On the restart, Irvan would jump out front and traded the lead twice in five laps with Peltier, but the pair would not remain on top of the field for long, as veteran Randy Gentry came calling at Lap 15 and snatched the lead away from Peltier, who ended up hung on the high side of the race track and was back to sixth by Lap 20 as Gentry stretched his lead out to a second and a half.
However, Gentry’s growing lead would be eliminated on Lap 33 when the second caution of the event flew after Lee Tissot and Nick Tucker spun in Turn 4.
Gentry would resume out front on the restart and the field would settle into a long green flag stretch, nearly interrupted when Tate Fogleman got into the wall on the frontstretch at Lap 57, but the field would roll all the way past halfway under green, with Gentry, Orange County Speedway PASS South winner Roger Lee Newton, and 14-year-old rookie Tyler Dippel comprising the top three at Lap 75.
It was right after that, though, that the action would heat up. The battle for the lead became fast and furious at Lap 79 as Newton started searching for a way around Gentry, first leading Lap 80 by a bumper before surging to the point and sailing away from the 09. Gentry would ultimately fade to the tail of the lead lap and come home 16th.
Newton would not be able to stay at the front long either however, as young Harrison Burton, the 14-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton, stormed to the lead at Lap 92 after surging to second on the previous lap. Burton would quickly extend his lead to nearly a full straightaway, leading the first laps of his PASS South career in dominating fashion before the third caution flag of the event flew at Lap 111 for Jay Fogleman’s stalled car in Turn 4, erasing Burton’s sizable advantage.
Once the green flag flew again, Burton would have to hold off Dippel for the top spot, with the New York rookie taking hold of the top spot for the first time all day at Lap 113 after passing Burton on the high side of the speedway. However, another quick caution at Lap 117 would slow the field again and give Burton another shot at the #1 car.
Burton was unable to make a move on the restart, and Dippel was able to hold off the challenges from behind until Church used a mammoth run on the outside to challenge for the lead with 28 laps to go, but had to settle back in line in second as Dippel inched closer and closer to his first-career victory. With fifteen laps to go he still held the lead, but Burton and Church were clamoring for a way around.
With ten laps to go, Burton surged to the inside of Dippel to reclaim the top spot, but his return to the front would be markedly short-lived, as Shaw powered past the #12 just two laps later to take over the point.
However, the day would not be done, as a caution with five laps to go for a flat tire on the Carswell Motorsports #98 of defending Southern Super Series champion Daniel Hemric set up a sprint to the checkered flag and one of the most thrilling Late Model finishes of 2014 to date.
When the green flag dropped, it was hometown favorite Church who got the jump on Shaw as the pair came off Turn 2, claiming the top spot and attempting to streak away to victory lane, but Shaw was right with him over the next four laps, dogging the #7 as the duo took the white flag with Church out in front.
Shaw looked low in Turns 1 and 2, but got a little loose off the corner and couldn’t make the charge stick. Following in Church’s tire tracks down the backstretch, Shaw dove hard into Turn 3 and gave Church enough of a bump to move him up the race track and beat him back to the line by just under a car length for the historic triumph.
Following the race, Church was visibly frustrated after coming so close to a highly-coveted Easter Bunny triumph.
“There’s words to describe (that last lap) but I just can’t say ’em,” Church said after the event. “This one slipped away; we had it, but it just got away from us. Good points night, but I wanted that win bad.”
“I’m ready for the next one (at Ace Speedway) now. I’ve only been there once, but after the way today went, bring it on. I want to go and win.”
Quick timer Peltier finished in third, defending his 2013 triumph in the Easter Bunny with another podium run. Polesitter Irvan and Dippel rounded out the top five at the finish.
In the PASS Pro Late Model feature, Walker Yates took the lead from Jeff Batten after a late-race restart with 13 laps to go and never looked back.
Yates held on for his second career PASS Pro Late Model victory after scoring his first career win at Greenville Pickens in the season opener in March.
“Oh man, this is crazy,” a stunned Yates said in victory lane. “We left a lot out there in qualifying and had to start fifth (after the redraw). Just had to be patient and save my tires at the beginning of the race, keep it smooth and steady, and was just there to take it away at the end.”
Batten hung on to finish second at the checkers, with Kodie Conner, Jacob Schneider and Erik Nash completing the top five finishers.
In the caution plagued feature, with four yellows just after the halfway point, the worst crash of the race took place on lap 29 when Austin Reed and Schneider made contact in turn four. The contact turned Schneider around and collected Reed and Lucas Jones as well in the maelstrom.
The PASS South tour now takes two weeks off before heading to the Ace Speedway on Friday night, May 9th for the Ace’s High 150, racing on the card along with the USAC HPD Eastern Midget Series.
RESULTS: Pro All Star Series; Easter Bunny 150 weekend; Hickory Motor Speedway; April 20, 2014
Super Late Models:
- #60 – DJ Shaw – 150 Laps
- #7 – Tyler Church – 150 Laps
- #74X – Preston Peltier – 150 Laps
- #28 – Jared Irvan – 150 Laps
- #1 – Tyler Dippel – 150 Laps
- #33 – Roger Lee Newton – 150 Laps
- #29 – Trevor Sanborn – 150 Laps
- #57 – Cole Timm – 150 Laps
- #2 – Trevor Noles – 150 Laps
- #4T – Austin Theriault – 150 Laps
- #14 – Clete Caywood – 150 Laps
- #7K – Ted Mickelson – 150 Laps
- #54 – Jake Griffin – 150 Laps
- #68 – Clay Rogers – 150 Laps
- #12J – Trey Jarrell – 150 Laps
- #09 – Randy Gentry – 150 Laps
- #12 – Harrison Burton – 149 Laps
- #8F – Tate Fogleman – 149 Laps
- #98 – Daniel Hemric – 148 Laps
- #70 – Nick Tucker – 148 Laps
- #41 – Jody Measamer – 145 Laps
- #9 – Matt Daley – 126 Laps
- #4N – Ben Rowe – 117 Laps
- #4F – Jay Fogleman – 110 Laps
- #88 – Lee Tissot – 94 Laps
- #48 – John Batten – 44 Laps
- #74 – Ryan Moore – 5 Laps
- #62 – Brandon Ward – 5 Laps
- #71 – Patrick Staropoli – 5 Laps
- #6 – Brandon Setzer – 5 Laps
- #83 – Joey Padgett – DNS
Audio with race winner D.J. Shaw:
Audio with runner-up Tyler Church:
Pro Late Models:
- #02 – Walker Yates – 50 Laps
- #49 – Jeff Batten – 50 Laps
- #45 – Kodie Conner – 50 Laps
- #81 – Jacob Schneider – 50 Laps
- #11X – Erik Nash – 50 Laps
- #17 – Greg Bohanon, Jr. – 50 Laps
- #16 – Lucas Jones – 50 Laps
- #7 – Matt Murphy – 49 Laps
- #23 – Zachary Dabbs – 45 Laps
- #14 – Austin Reed – 44 Laps
- #82X – Jason Lasky – 31 Laps
- #71 – Nick Robinson – 1 Lap
Audio with race winner Walker Yates: