Cory Hedgecock picked up right where he left off last season at the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn. The young driver scored the win in 2014’s first Late Model feature race when he captured that track’s 4th Annual Hangover event on Wednesday afternoon.
Hedgecock, who won the 2013 finale at the Mitch and Tanya McCarter owned facility, led all the way in the 35-lap feature after earning the pole position in qualifying earlier in the day. The Loudon, Tenn. driver had turned a lap of 13.827 seconds in time-trials. Joining Hedgecock in being locked into the feature’s starting lineup was Jason Manley, who toured the 3/8 mile clay oval in a time of 14.035 seconds to take the outside front row starting spot. A total of 17 cars were signed in for Late Model competition.
Josh Henry and Jason Cardwell earned the second row starting positions for the feature by winning each of two heat races for those not locked in via qualifying.
At the start of the 35-lap main event, Hedgecock led the field through turns one and two but he and Manley contacted each other as they battled for position on the back stretch. Hedgecock held onto the front spot after the contact but Manley fell back to fourth as Henry and Jensen Ford moved around in pursuit of the leader.
During a lap 4 caution brought out when Josh Driskill spun, Manley pulled alongside Hedgecock to show his displeasure over the lap one bump.
On lap 5, the race’s second caution flag waved when Manley had his car tagged by another machine in turn one which set off a series of events that resulted in him finally spinning in turn three. Having been hit by William Overby’s car after coming to rest, Manley climbed from the damaged racer and walked away in disgust.
Following the race’s final yellow flag on lap 12, Hedgecock received his only real challenge of the night when Ford attempted to make the lower line work around the track that typically tends to favor the upper groove. At the same time, Henry, Ross White, Rusty Ballenger and Jason Cardwell staged a four car battle for position just behind the lead duo.
Eventually, Hedgecock was able to pull away for the $1,500 win.
At the finish, it was Cory Hedgecock, Jensen Ford, Ross White, Rusty Ballenger and Josh Henry.
“We got lucky by qualifying decent,” Hedgecock said after the race. “I’m not sure what the Manley deal was all about. I was just trying to hold my groove as much as he was holding his. We were just lucky again tonight and got another one to start the year off good.
“I always just think momentum is going to be the ticket,” Hedgecock expalined of his use of the high line while being challenged by Ford. “I was struggling coming off of two because it was slick. I knew somebody was down there because my dad was giving me hand signals but I think I finally just started to pull back away. We struggled a couple of times through one and two but it all worked out in the end.”