Cale Gale Wins Two In A Row At Hickory Motor Speedway
July 2nd 2016 (Hickory, NC): When the hot July sun settled behind the clouds Saturday afternoon, Cale Gale and the rest of the Southern Modified Race Tour teams kept things plenty warm with their own brand of heat in the “Firecracker 125” at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The afternoon started with Busch Pole qualifying. Gale edged Josh Nichols for the top spot just ahead of James Civali, Tom Buzze and Bobby Sheffield who was making his first Modified start since early last season. Darren Shaw, Drew Moffitt, Don Johnson and Junior Miller completed the cars posting times. Ryan Nelson and Jeremy Mayfield fought problems all afternoon and fell in at the end of the field for the start. Nelson had brake issues all afternoon and Mayfield's new JGL Racing team changed engines in the #8 car finishing the job just in time to grid the car.
At the drop of the green, Gale jumped to the point with Nichols, Civali and Buzz close behind. The races first caution flew on lap three when Junior Miller hit the turn four wall after suspension issues sent the #11 hard into the concrete. Miller was OK but the night was over early for the many-time Modified Champion. Nichols, Sheffield, Gale, Civali and Buzze satisfied their mandatory pit stop obligations during this caution.
On the restart Shaw held the point but Mayfield blew past on lap five for six laps before Shaw drove back to the point for the next 15 laps. A quick caution for the stalled car of Ryan Nelson who was running in second spot saw Mayfield made his stop during the caution period. Through the mid-point of the race Mayfield, Shaw, Buzze, Civali and Sheffield took turns at the head of the field. A spin by Don Johnson on lap 80 changed the complexion of the race as all the front runners hit pit road for tire changes and adjustments. Action was about to pick up as the leaders banged nerf bars on the restart causing a spin by Shaw that brought out a quick caution. Nichols and Gale put on a spirited battle for the next 34 laps before Gale was finally able to muscle his way by Nichols on lap 108. Gale held off the field on the final restart on lap 122 after a spin by Mayfield that ended a long day for his team. Civali was able to hold off Buzze and Nichols at the end with Shaw completing the top five. Moffitt was the highest finishing Mod Lite car in sixth with Johnson, Mayfield, Sheffield, Nelson and Miller rounding out the eleven finishers. Scott Eberhart was unable to start after experiencing rear end problems with his modified.
“Hickory Motor Speedway promoter Kevin Piercy has been the main-stay for the SMRT series since its inception in 2014 when the track hosted the very first SMRT event and was rewarded with another nice crowd that turned out in the hot summer sun. We are grateful that Kevin has always been the “big picture” guy and gives us the opportunity to do what we love” said SMRT spokesman Randy Myers.
Nichols posted the fastest lap of the race. Mayfield was the SUNOCO Race Fuels Half-Way leader in a race that saw sixteen lead changes between six drivers. Johnny Johnson and Wayne Lawson were the winners in the East Coast Flathead Fords feature. Former Modified driver, Greg Butcher won the Classic Sportsman Racing Association feature. Sheflon Clay claimed the Hickory Super Truck win while Curtis Pardue took home the win in the 4-Cylinders. Jantzen Stirewalt took the honors in the Allison Legacy Series 35 lapper.
Details on the next SMRT event will be announced next week. The next event on the Hickory Motor Speedway schedule is on July 9 th for race for the Late Models with racing also on tap for the Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, 4-cylinders and the Classic Sportsman Racing Series.