Cory Hedgecock has quickly established himself as the dominant force in Limited Late Model racing around east Tennessee. After running off a string of impressive wins at the 411 Motor Speedway over the past few months, the Loudon, Tenn. driver added a $1,200 victory at the Smoky Mountain Speedway to his collection on Friday night.
This race was run in conjunction with the two night NDRL Super Late Models event at the Maryville, Tenn. track.
Ethan Hunter proved to be the fastest of the 16 cars that took a turn at qualifying when he posted a lap of 16.645 seconds around the 4/10 mile oval. But it was Hedgecock’s outside front row starting spot that would prove to be the difference maker in this event.
The field was set entirely from qualifying and no heat races were run.
At the start, Hedgecock bolted from the outside of the front row and immediately pulled out to a big lead. But just when it looked as if this would be another of his dominating drives, Hunter closed the gap and challenged for the race lead.
For several laps, the top-2 ran nose to tail around the clay track, but eventually, Hedgecock would pull just far enough ahead to have a bit of breathing room over his closest pursuer. Meanwhile, there was quite a battle going on just behind the lead duo as Drew Kennedy, Brad Lowe, Mack McCarter and Jason Manley wrestled for positions within the top-5.
On lap 14, Lowe was able to grab the 3rd spot away from Kennedy, dragging McCarter along in the process. Eventually, Kennedy would drop out of the race with mechanical troubles.
At the finish, Cory Hedgecock won out over Ethan Hunter, Brad Lowe, Mack McCarter and Jason Manley.
“Our cars was real good,” Hedgecock pointed out from Victory Lane. “My dad was signaling me that he(Hunter) was on the bottom. I was on the outside and it looked and felt good up there but I saw Ethan stick his nose on the bottom so I figured I’d better go back to the bottom.”
In the Classics division, Phillip Thompson started from the pole but had to hold off a fierce challenge from Bart Baxter as the two cars raced side-by-side across the finish line for the win. For the entire 15 lap distance, the top-2 machines appeared to be tied together as they raced in tight formation. Garrik Kelley and Joe Keck followed just behind the leaders at the finish.