McCALL DOES WHAT HE’S USED TO… WINS AT HICKORY by Jeremy Troiano
UARA Sees Little Passing, Lots Of Big Names
For Matt McCall, winning at Hickory Motor Speedway is nothing new. He was the 2004 Hickory Motor Speedway Late Model Stock champion and was the man to beat anytime outsiders came to the track.
On Saturday, a lot of outsiders came to knock McCall off the Hickory Motor Speedway pedestal.
Caudill and Jamie Yelton and a bunch of others. This is a big deal. This is a big win. It will sink in later when we are in the middle of tearing down the engine in post race tech.
“The car was so good, a monkey could have driven this thing,” joked McCall, who works full-time in the shop for the #32 NASCAR Nextel Cup. “Harold Holly (the #32 Cup team’s crew chief) has taught me so much. We called him today and woke him up while he was napping a little bit in Atlanta. We told him that we needed more speed and we ended up changing about five things before qualifying and we picked up three-tenths (of a second). That is pretty big.
“It may sound cocky, but last year we hit up on some setup stuff that made this car pretty tough to beat. We came back and we were just fine tuning it for these tires. I knew we were going to be good, but I knew we’d have a challenge from guys like Yelton and others. He was fast, but we got them all tonight.”
Defending Hickory Motor Speedway Track Champion Matt McCall won Saturday night's UARA opener at Hickory. (51 Photo)
They couldn’t do it.
McCall topped the 27 other drivers that took the green (and the 45-plus cars that tried to qualify for the event) in Saturday night’s Joe Walker Memorial 150 at Hickory, the season opener for the Southeast’s UARA-Stars Touring Series for Late Model Stock Cars.
McCall started from the pole, but lost the lead at the green. It took him just seven laps to get the lead back and once he did, there was no looking back. He led until the finish to take the $2,500 payday.
“Of all the wins I’ve ever gotten here, this is probably the biggest race that I’ve won because of the names that are here,” said McCall. “I mean, you’ve got guys like Jamey
Once McCall got the lead, he couldn’t be touched. But even back behind the leader, there wasn’t a lot of passing going on. Second place qualifier Caudill finished second. Fourth-place starter Lee Tissot finished third and Yelton, who started fifth, finished fourth.
“These tires… they are real consistent on the long run,” said McCall of the new Goodyear tires for the UARA cars that debuted during the race. “But on the initial get go, there is no grip. I had to start in fourth gear almost every time just to keep from killing the tires. My car though it usually pretty stout on long runs, that is when the driver shows up. Thankfully, he showed up tonight. I was decent, just not superb.”
McCall's #23 was hooked up on Saturday night.
The tires were definitely a factor in lack of passing, as was the tight field. In fact, the top-20 qualifiers were separated by just three-tenths of a second.
“We usually run a little better here,” said a surprised Yelton of his fourth-place run. “That new tire is pretty hard. Everyone was pretty close as well. You’ve got McCall there though and he is a good shoe here. He runs here every week and he is tough to beat. Caudill was up there and he is a class act. There are jus some good race car drivers here. I think Goodyear will get back with the engineers and they’ll fix it. I just don’t think it is the right ire for these cars for what they have right now.”
This multi-car accident involved Joe Buford (#70), Steve Pendergrass (#21) and Stephen Gahagan. (Paul J. Robinson photo)
Defending series champion Jason York was one of the few front-runners that made up a few positions from start to finish. York finished fifth after starting eighth.
He thought the lack of passing was due to a fact of too many cautions.
“Heck, we couldn’t go but about 10 laps and we’d have a caution,” said York. “You couldn’t get enough heat in the tires and you really couldn’t get your rhythm that way either.”
There were eight cautions, including two red flags for multicar accidents, during the 150-lap race.