Riley Hickman overpowers Steelhead Late Model field in Cleveland

Riley Hickman dominated the Steelhead Late Model class in Cleveland on Friday night.

Riley Hickman dominated the Steelhead Late Model class in Cleveland on Friday night.

Cleveland Speedway offered up extra money for the Limited Late Model class to race topless on Friday night and a field of 21 quality cars showed up to accept the challenge. In the end, it would be Chattanooga driver Riley Hickman who would drive away with the win to collect a $1,500 payday.

Cory Hedgecock flexed the early muscle in the Steelhead division as he posted a lightning fast lap of 13.26 seconds around the third-mile clay oval. That time proved to be almost a half-second better than his nearest challenger. Joining Hedgecock in being locked into the feature event via time-trials were Riley Hickman, Ethan Hunter, Rick Hixson, Skip Arp and Bryan Pritchard.

Jamie Perry beat out Mike Tinker and Rex Ritchey in the first heat race used to set the remainder of the starting lineup for the main event while Tod Hernandez bested Anthony White and Heath Hindman in the second preliminary.

The start of the 30-lap feature saw Hickman and Hedgecock engage in a slide job filled, position swapping battle that would last for the first three laps of the contest. Ultimately, however, Hickman emerged from that fight as the leader and set out to drive away from the field.

Hedgecock remained in 2nd behind Hickman during the initial circuits of the main event as Hixson and Pritchard seized the 3rd and 4th positions respectively. Also in the early going of the race that would run its first 25 laps caution free, Hunter found himself in a major battle to hold the 5th spot with Hernandez, Arp and Perry applying pressure.

Even in the heavy traffic that would inevitably develop during such a long green flag run, Hickman was able to extend his advantage over the pack. However, he did encounter a close call with a pair of slower cars who were running side-by-side when he attempted to go by on lap 22. That brief brush with one of those machines left the #R1 car with noticeable right side damage.

On lap 25, the race’s only caution flag waved when Tinker slammed hard into the backstretch wall after what appeared to be a tire or wheel failure on his #T22 ride. The car suffered significant damage but the driver walked away.

After the late race restart, Hickman pulled away once again as Hedgecock, who also suffered significant right side damage during the race, received challenges for his runner-up spot. Hixson would eventually claim that position just before the checkered flag waved.

Right side damage on Cory Hedgecock's car.

Right side damage on Cory Hedgecock’s car.

At the finish, it was Riley Hickman, Rick Hixson, Cory Hedgecock, Bryan Pritchard, Skip Arp, Ethan Hunter, Tod Hernandez and Jamie Perry.

In other action, Jimmy Smith beat out a field of 15 A-Hobby machines in a race that was marred by serious crashes at its beginning and its ending.

At the initial waving of the green flag to start the A-Hobby feature, virtually the entire field was caught up in a melee that appeared to have been triggered when front row starters Devin Stewart and Jimmy Smith got together. Most cars would continue on from that incident.

On the 19th of the scheduled 20 laps, Robbie Hixson was involved in a single car crash that saw his racer go flipping wildly multiple times through turn three. The car was destroyed but the driver was able to scamper away once the car was righted onto what was left of its four wheels.

The race was stopped at that point with Smith declared the winner ahead of Devin Stewart, Brandon Stanfield and Charles Devine.

The badly mangled A-Hobby car of Robbie Hixson.

The badly mangled A-Hobby car of Robbie Hixson.

Richard Dixon dominated the field of 14 cars in the B-Hobby division as he beat out Ricky Wagner, Adam Earwood and Jason Emahiser in a race that ran caution free for its entire 20 laps.

Michael Courtney added to his already impressive season in Mini-Stocks by scoring the feature win for that class.

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