DENNIS QUEEN TAKES THE CROWN AT UARA-STARS OPENER
Late Race Pass Finally Seals the Deal for Late Model Stock Veteran
Dennis Queen found himself in victory lane at Hickory Motor Speedway. (51 Photos)
Queen was the newly crowned King of the Hickory, as he passed former UARA-Champion Tissot to claim his first ever UARA-STARS victory Saturday night in the 2007 UARA-STARS season opener at the Hickory Motor Speedway (NC)
“This is just great,” said Queen. “This isn’t my first-ever time with the UARA, but it is one of the first times we’ve finished at Hickory. Most of the other times we have been crashed out, something has happened or we couldn’t even make it in the field.”
It wasn’t an easy field to make. The UARA field let the short track world know that Late Model Stock is still very much alive in the Carolinas as a total of 50 cars showed up at Hickory Motor Speedway, but there were only enough spots for 28 of those to compete.
Twenty-two spots were earned during qualifying and two last chance races later, it was finally time for the UARA-Stars to take the first green flag of the season.
Setzer was on the pole, but he had defending Hickory winner Jamie Yelton right behind him who wasted no time taking the lead on lap two. Yelton was able to hold Setzer off
for 20 laps, but Setzer had his eyes set on a spot out front and he passed Yelton on lap 21 to take the lead. After losing the momentum from being out front, Yelton fell back through the field to the sixth spot, where he finished.
“We just missed the set up,” said Yelton. “I wasn’t going to race those boys for sixth or seventh if I couldn’t go for the win, when I wasn’t running for points. What’s the use in tearing my stuff up.
Interestingly enough, the car that Yelton one with in the fall race at Hickory wasn’t the same car that he brought this time.
In 2006, The UARA-STARS championship race was all about the young guns Brandon Ward and Alex Yontz. But that was last year, and now 2007 may have a different ring to it if short track veterans Mark Setzer, Lee Tissot and Dennis Queen have anything to say about it. It was Queen who was victorious to show just that.
“I should have brought my car that we won with last time,” joked Yelton. “But I didn’t. I ain’t never lost a race and not had an excuse for it, and I lost.”
With Yelton out of the picture, Setzer didn’t look back, at least until he had to. Tissot had worked his way up from his seventh starting position and set his sights on Setzer where he passed him on lap 100.
“This was our first time out with this hard core racing Ford,” said Setzer. “It was just a little bit tight, and it wouldn’t turn and get off the bottom like it would at the beginning of the race, I just couldn’t pick up the throttle.
“My team did a great job, we just missed the set up a little bit and instead of winning, we finished 14th. We didn’t really want it this cold, but my hats off to the guys who finished up front. They were faced with the same situation that we had, and they just did a little bit better job with it.”
After Tissot got by Setzer, it looked as if he was well on his way to beginning his quest for his second UARA-Stars championship, but then, with 10 laps to go, the picture that was being painted, changed again.
For most of the evening Queen hadn’t been a factor. He had been riding around the front more or less just biding his time as if he were out on a Sunday drive. He stayed out of trouble and seemed to be content just riding along up front.
But then he saw the opportunity to make his move. By just riding around, he had allowed himself to catch up with Tissot and was able to get by the leader coming out of turn four to lead lap 140, and he didn’t look back all the way to the checkered.
“Our plan was to try and find ourselves a place to ride around for the first 75 laps,” added Queen. “We were hoping that we wouldn’t get lapped or get in trouble and then see if we could do anything in the end, and it actually paid off this time.”
“Me and Lee have raced several times, and we usually put on a show like that. Once I got up front, I didn’t look back; I didn’t know how close anybody was. My spotter was just like Go! Go! Go! And I did. I can’t believe it, I don’t even know what to say.”
While Tissot wasn’t able to come home with the win, second place and the bigger picture of the evening seemed to satisfy him for the time being at least.
“It’s a really good start to the season,” said Tissot. “We came out here to just try and finish in the top-five and we almost won. It was an untested car and a new motor.
“The young guys were coming, they were catching me fast. But I am glad to finish behind Dennis, we are both hometown guys from around this area and it was good, clean racing between us. We will go get him next time at Concord.”
As Tissot said, the new ‘young guns’ were not entirely out of the picture. While Setzer, Tissot and Queen dominated the race, three of the top-five were all under the legal
drinking age as Lucas Ransone, Coleman Pressley and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top-five finishers.
They just weren’t able to quite make it out to the front. But it was only the first race. They will have plenty of more chances to stake their claim on UARA victory, Just ask third-place running Lucas Ransone.
“We ended up pulling it off and getting a good finish with third,” said Ransone. “I don’t know if I could have past to the leaders tonight, Coleman Pressley was coming up behind me pretty quick but we were fast and were right up there with the rest of the guys. It should be a good, competitive season.”
Mark Setzer was fast early but faded as the night went on.
Lucas Ransone's car looked a little different than it did in 06, but it was still just as fast.