Upstarts Become The Show in This Year's Easter Bunny 150 by Mike Twist
Williams Beats Lawler, But The Newest Kids On The Block Aren't Far Behind
Corey Williams ended the night in victory lane... (51 Photos)
good it was. That was because of how hard this team worked. We worked every night until Midnight for two weeks straight. We were killing ourselves, but that paid off. This car rode like it was on a rail and I can’t thank them enough.”
The final rundown will show that Williams beat Lawler and Stancill beat Stroupe, but the closeness of those two races over the closing laps is hard to describe. The two-plus second margin of victory that Williams enjoyed at the finish line was a stark contrast the laps leading up to it.
“That was crazy,” said Williams of his battle with Lawler. “I was behind him and I watched him wheeling the hell out of that thing. He was sideways and I was thinking that it was just like Legend car racing. It was great and we had a blast. He races me clean and I appreciate that.”
On one particular lap, the lead changed between the two drivers at least three times.
“I don’t even know how many times the lead changed,” said Lawler. “I thought I had a tire
going down when the car just slid up the track. He managed to get by a little bit, and then
we went into turn one and he hit a patch of oil and slid up the track. I got back under him
and were banging doors and getting each other sideways. It was a good time. We’re not
going to try to take each other out, but first place sounded good to both of us, so we
fought for it. I had a blast racing with Corey.”
Stroupe sat back in third place at the time and enjoyed the battle – giving the two leaders
plenty of room to race each other.
“They had a great race going on,” said Stroupe. “We were only a car length back and
every time that Corey and Ryan were swapping the lead, I made sure that I gave them
enough room for the other one to try and cross over.”
With just a few laps to go, Williams pulled away to a two plus second victory over Lawler and Stancill passed Stroupe for third.
“Stancill was hooked up and he just got by us,” said Stroupe.
Heath Hindman rounded out the top five finishers.
When the Easter Bunny 150 got its start in 2006, the old guard of short track racing left Hickory Motor Speedway as the big winners. Mike Rowe went into the record book of PASS South and its first winner. He was chased to the finish by a pair of young, but highly experienced drivers, in Chuck Barnes and Clay Rogers.
In that first race though, there were signs of talent budding among the younger generation. Corey Williams showed plenty of speed, but had bad luck drop him from contention. Ryan Lawler was making his first ever Super Late Model start and surprised everyone by finishing fifth.
Fast forward to the 2008 version of the Easter Bunny, held on Saturday night at Hickory, and you can find that those seeds sprouted just fine as Williams and Lawler put on an fierce, but clean, race for the lead with a pair of even younger and newer faces, John Stancill and Zach Stroupe, finishing in their tire tracks.
In the end, Williams was the big winner – possibly his biggest of four career victories in PASS South competition.
“I don’t know, it might be,” said Williams. “This Easter Bunny deal is pretty good. They have had it for three years now and we’ve had a good car here every year but haven’t been able to capitalize on that before. This year, I just can’t even tell you how
...but he first had to fight a fierce battle with Ryan Lawler to get there.
Never giving up when times were tough up North has paid off for both Williams and his underfunded team of family and volunteers.
“Sometimes, it is easy to get down,” said Williams. “But at the same time, if you have it in your blood, you want to just keep digging. That definitely paid off. I moved down here and got myself connected to enough people who have helped me. They are making it happen for me and we’ve had a lot of success because of it. I just wish that I could get enough of a break to run more.”
Williams’ 2008 racing plans are up in the air. A combination of having a low budget
and commitments with his day job as a crew member for the NASCAR Camping World
East Series team of Andy Santerre Motorsports make the possibility of running a full
PASS South season a challenge at best.
One thing is for sure though. Williams is much better at winning races than he is at
keeping those winner’s trophies safe and sound. The hardware for winning the Easter
Bunny 150 ended up sitting on the pavement of victory lane in a few different pieces
after all of the photos were taken. What happened?
“I don’t know,” said Williams. “I was doing an interview and the wind knocked it down
and blew it apart. We’ll have to see if we can glue it back together to put it on the
Speed51.com will have more coverage of the Easter Bunny 150 with our race leftovers
coming soon. Stay tuned.
As close as the competition was, the race could have turned out even closer at the end. Florida’s Jeff Choquette, who has already won Speedfest and the Florida Speedweeks championship this season, dominated the early part of the race with Ben Rowe in hot pursuit. Both of those drivers saw their chances of victory end after getting caught in a wreck with a lapped car. Stroupe also saw his realistic chances at victory go away in the same incident. He dropped back several positions, but with a damaged car was only able to get within sight of the leaders again.
“It would have been a good race if it had come down to me, Ben Rowe, Lawler and Williams,” said Choquette, whose race will be featured more in depth in our Easter Bunny 150 leftovers, which are coming soon.
With his victory, Williams is now the winningest PASS South driver going into the third season of the tour’s history. The series helped him move from an upstart driver who had shown plenty of potential, but produced no victories, in PASS North to one of the hottest short track drivers in the country. The Hickory victory was the fifth time that Williams had won a major short track touring race since early last summer.