Turn 2 Blog: Tempers running hot & Hedgecock’s 411 dominance

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.

The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American All-Star Pro Late Models Presented by PPM Racing Products

Are well publicized pit area melees going to become commonplace?

Richard: Last week, we discussed the dustup between Brandon Overton and Chris Madden during the Southern All-Stars race at Cherokee Speedway. Now, another incident, again with the Southern All Stars, is getting attention following an event at the Southern Raceway in Milton, Florida this past Saturday.

But there is a major difference between the two. In the Overton-Madden situation, both drivers exited their cars did a little pushing and chest bumping then emphatically stated their cases and eventually moved on. Saturday night’s altercation between Ashton and Gary Winger with G.R. Smith and team member Scottie Parker escalated to the point that both Wingers and Parker were taken to jail.

This does seem a bit unusual given that it is so early in the season and rivalries haven’t really had enough time to boil over yet. At the same time, though, this is a sport filled with passion and there are many people whose livelihoods are on the line each time the pit gates open. Sometimes, there are reasons to get angry.

All that said, it sounds like the incident at Southern went too far.

The two national series have recently shown a willingness to work together in terms of their rulebooks and competition related issues. Many of the regional series have followed their lead. I would like to see each of the sanctioning bodies develop a unified code of conduct that would be enforced by all.

We have all seen instances in which a driver or crew member has done something at a local track or even on a series that has resulted in a suspension only to see that individual or individuals go somewhere else and continue to race. If everyone stuck to the code, it would likely cut down on unwanted behaviors.

To answer the question, and as I said last week, an occasional dustup isn’t necessarily bad for business. On the other hand, having to involve the police could be but I don’t think this type of thing will become commonplace.

Michael: I’ve had more than one track owner tell me if there are going to be fights, they’d rather it be on the track in front of the fans instead of in the pits. The main reason behind that thinking is drumming up publicity to sell more tickets to the next race.

Unfortunately, fights that happen in the pits involve many people and often times some sort of weapon is involved. I can recall a race at Smoky Mountain Speedway in the mid 90’s when an argument broke out in the pits. A driver was stabbed and had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.

I’m anxious to see how Southern All-Stars and any other series handle this. The Wingers, the crew member, and G.R. Smith should face some sort of penalties by at least SAS. While the Wingers have received all the attention since they were arrested, people should not overlook Smith’s behavior on the track. There was obviously some bad blood between he and the Wingers after they parted ways in July. Continuing to ram a car time and time again should not be tolerated.

Cory Hedgecock

Cory Hedgecock is showing that a driver doesn’t have to run a national tour to be successful, isn’t he?

Richard: Anytime a major touring series, whether it be a national or a regional tour, comes to this area, the regulars know they will have to contend with Cory Hedgecock. That is especially true at 411 Motor Speedway.

Taking into consideration that the Hedgecocks not only race but also build engines and have just recently entered the chassis business with their BMF Race Cars brand, they have carved out several business niches. And the income they make from racing comes without the same amount of the travel that goes along with racing on a national tour.

Hedgecock proved in 2018 that he could not only race with but beat the “big boys” when he won a World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series feature at 411. At 30 years of age, the Loudon, Tennessee driver has matured into not only a great talent behind the wheel but also savvy competitor.

Hedgecock is showing that big things can be accomplished close to home.

Michael: It’s funny this question has came up. I often think about drivers that race in one area that don’t seem to do a lot in their area but will go race regionally or nationally. Then they wonder why they don’t see any success.

Hedgecock is one of those drivers that won a lot of races locally in crate racing and then branched out regionally. He’s followed the same path in Super Late Models. I think more drivers should use that as a template.

Hedgecock is a very talented and driven racer. If he was to venture out on a national tour, I have no doubt he would be successful. And many people don’t realize he’s winning races with basically his father and a couple of people for a crew. They ran the Southern Nationals last year that way and he won the title.

This has the potential to be a huge racing weekend in this area, doesn’t it?

Richard: It used to be that the two national touring series would make multiple visits to the east Tennessee region, but as those series have broadened their reach over the past several years, it seems as if we have seen less and less of them in this area. With the World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Series dropping in for three consecutive nights, this has the makings of a big weekend of racing.

And considering that this past Saturday featured a $15,000-to-win Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals event at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tennessee, it appears as if this is the place to be for big races during the early part of the year.

Smoky Mountain Speedway will play host to the tour on Thursday night in a makeup from a weekend that fell victim to weather a few weeks ago. With the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series racing on Friday and Saturday in Ohio and Indiana, there is the possibility that some of those regulars might find their way to the Maryville, Tennessee to kick off their weekend.

That event will pay its winner $10,000.

The WoO Late Models will then move down I-75 to Boyd’s Speedway located just barely outside of Tennessee in Ringgold, Georgia. Two nights of racing are slated with a $10,000 payout due to the winner on Friday evening and a $20,000 check to be handed to Saturday’s victor.

So yes, this has the making of a great weekend of racing.

Michael: If the weather will cooperate, this will be a huge weekend of racing. It’s rare that two tracks within 2 hours of each other will host the same series on the same weekend. But with the rain out at Smoky Mountain two weeks ago, there wasn’t much choice for them. And with the new configuration, it will be interesting to see who figures out the track first.

Boyd’s had two big races last year. That track usually produces some of the most interesting races. With a lot of money on the line for two nights, they’re banking on big crowds for both events. If race fans want to see more races like this, they need to get out and support these tracks.

Please consider also reading:

Cory Hedgecock takes the low road to lucrative Spring Nats win at 411

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