Hickory native Shane Huffman came home victorious in the rain-delayed UARA-STARS 150 at the Hickory Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon after a spirited, side-by-side battle with Coleman Pressley during the closing laps of the event. It was Huffman’s second career UARA win and the first of any kind for the former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver in over three years.
Kyle Grissom started on the pole for the season opening UARA-STARS event and jumped out to a five-car length lead over Huffman on the initial green flag. Grissom, a former series race winner, was in his first race with a new crew chief, Nick Hutchins, who won the 2008 series championship with Jake Crum and worked with Brandon McReynolds in 2009.
The first caution fell on lap 12 for series newcomers Lucas Ransone and Frank Deiny, Jr., as they made contact with the turn four wall significant enough to end both of their days. Under that first caution, leader Kyle Grissom experienced suspension problems and brought his pole-sitting car down pit lane, giving the lead to Shane Huffman.
“From the first time I went into the corner at speed, the car bottomed out on the right front and I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure out exactly what it was,” said Grissom. “When we got that caution, it laid over really bad so we came in and found it had sheared the right front lower A-frame in half. We had a really good car and it would have been nice to have seen what we could have done.”
Twenty laps after the lap 25 restart, caution number two came out on lap 45 for a spin by Michael McGuire in turn two. With his car broadside across the racetrack, the cars of Julia Dawson, Dennis Queen, Max Papis and second-place Jamie Yelton all caught a piece of the action. Everyone was able to continue except for the youngster, McGuire, while Yelton had to pit from second place to repair a damaged fender.
The restart gave new second-place driver Coleman Pressley a chance to pounce on leader Shane Huffman but Pressley kept his distance on the early race leader. Another caution on lap 64 eliminated Lee Tissot from competition as he was caught up in chain reaction when Brennan Poole and Brandon Dean made contact entering turn three. Dean and Poole saved their cars while James Goff, Grant McGinnis and Tissot were caught up behind the initial incident.
After the next restart, Pressley stalked leader Huffman and after working the top and the bottom of the track, got beside the driver of the No. 66 on lap 90. After four laps of racing wheel to wheel, Pressley cleared him and pulled away until the next caution on lap 103 when John King went for a spin off of the front bumper of Adam Long in turn four. Immediately after the restart, Brandon Dean was sent for a wild ride in turn one by another competitor that ultimately ended his day and brought out the caution once again.
Soon after the ensuing restart, the yellow came out again on lap 118 when Roger Lee Newton and Patrick Molesworth tangled in turn one. The 47 backed hard into the wall and lifted off the ground but the driver climbed out uninjured. Molesworth proceeded to express his displeasure with the driver of the No. 38 and was escorted back to his pit by track personnel.
Following a restart on lap 129, Shane Huffman muscled his way by leader Pressley to retake the top spot in turn number three and left a mark not only on Pressley’s door, but also his temper.
“To be honest, I was pretty upset,” said Pressley after the race. “Dad (Robert Pressley) said I could do everything I needed to do except for wreck him.”
A late-race restart on lap 147 saw Pressley get a jump on leader Huffma,n but the new Ford crate engine under the hood of the No. 59 took a couple of laps to get wound up and that led to a finish that had the entire grandstand on its feet. As Pressley pulled alongside of Huffman entering turn three on the final lap, the two made contact and then came together once again exiting turn four. Both cars slid sideways out of control but each driver was able to hang onto his ride and Huffman beat Pressley to the stripe by less than a car length.
“Coleman was definitely better on a long run and he had a really good car. We were better on a short run. It took us about three or four laps to get going but then we were good for about another five to ten. After that we would fall off,” remarked Huffman after the event. “The cautions started falling and I knew that if they fell right we would be in good shape. I could really get a good run on him the first few laps but I knew I was going to have to rough him up to get by him after I got under him. He got back into me and we had a heck of a battle. It’s good, hard, short racing at its best. I really have to thank Steven Wallace, Wes Ward and all of my guys. It’s been about three and a half years since I’ve won a race, so this is pretty important to me.”
“It was a good race, it’s what short track racing is all about. We’re going to miss one show this season, but we did what we had to do today by being the top UARA regular. If we can do that the next three races, we should be in good shape before we have to miss the fourth one,” the runner-up Pressley said. He will be competing in a NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Darlington, SC, that particular weekend.
Ty Dillon quietly finished third in his first race of the season with the UARA and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Brennan Poole, came home fourth. Outside front row starter Alex Yontz faded to finish fifth.
The UARA-STARS late model tour will be racing again in two weeks at the Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee. Brandon McReynolds won the series’ last visit to that facility last November. For more information on the UARA-STARS, visit uara-stars.com or contact Wink Bodenhamer at (828) 692-3833.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DRIVER PAPIS ON HIS FIRST UARA START:
“We had blast in the beginning but the right rear shock broke from the word ‘go,’ so we had to come in and change it. After we did that it was fine and was fun. We will be back for sure, but with four shocks, not three! I wish we didn’t have the problem in the beginning because the guys worked really hard on the car and it was a misfortune what happened. Without that problem, I think we would have been pretty good. I think it was the same problem we had in qualifying that made the car step out a lot in turns three and four. It was a shame, but at the same time once it was fixed it was fun and it was fast. There was a lot of beating and banging and I can see why these young, American kids come up so strong because after doing something like this you have to be strong.”
TY DILLON ON HIS FIRST 2010 START WITH UARA:
“We had a great car all day. This is why we came here. We may have been slower in practice, but we were working on race runs because that’s what matters. Like I said, we had a great car and turned it on in the last fifty laps. I think we will have something for them this year. We’re going to try and run them all (UARA-STARS races). We have a few K&N Pro Series conflicts but we’re going to make as many as we can.”
FOURTH PLACE BRENNAN POOLE AFTER STARTING 16TH:
“We started deep in the field. The car was great. David King gave us a great car today and Jamie Yelton and the guys built it great back at the shop. My spotter was great today. He guided me through a lot of wrecks and got me down to the inside. There were a few times where I got into Brandon Dean but it was fun racing with him, he’s such a great driver. But we ended up fourth and it was pretty crazy coming down to the line. I have to thank Midas, TX-AZ, Alco Automotive, Circle Wheels, LP Gear, Tiger Rear Ends and it was just an awesome day, a great points day – passing points too coming from 16th – so I’m happy. Alex is a great driver too that we’re going to have to contend with for the championship, so to beat him in the first race is a great start.”
FIFTH PLACE ALEX YONTZ, STARTED OUTSIDE POLE:
“We just rode and were trying to take care of the tires. When it came time to go, we didn’t have enough car to go. We were trying to hold onto what we had and keep it in one piece. We’re going to try to run the entire schedule, but depending on our luck on the track and success at finding a sponsor, we’ll see if we run out of money first.”
RACING CREATED THE RADIO STAR:
Race winner Shane Huffman is tentatively scheduled to appear on PitRowRadio.com's "Kickin' Asphalt" radio show powered by NOS Energy Drink on Tuesday, March 16. Hosts Doc Love and Alan Dietz will recap the entire UARA-STARS event from Hickory and look forward to the upcoming event in Kingsport, TN. The duo will delve deeper with driver reactions, comments and brewing rivalries after the series' first race in Hickory.
FINAL UNOFFICIAL RESULTS:
1. Shane Huffman – 150 laps
2. Coleman Pressley
3. Ty Dillon
4. Brennan Poole
5. Alex Yontz
6. Roger Lee Newton
7. Garrett Campbell
8. Robert Johnson, Jr.
9. Clint Mills
10. Adam Long
11. Matt Kurzejewski
12. Jamie Yelton
13. James Goff
14. Ronnie Bassett
15. R.A. Brown
16. Clint King (-3)
17. Kyle Grissom (-4)
18. Grant McGinnis (-8)
19. John King II (-13)
20. Max Papis (-24)
21. Patrick Molesworth (-32)
22. Brandon Dean (-44)
23. Scott Turlington (-52)
24. Michael Rouse (-63)
25. Lee Tissot (-87)
26. Julia Dawson (-105)
27. Michael McGuire (-107)
28. Dennis Queen (-107)
29. Lucas Ransone (-137)
30. Frank Deiny, Jr. (-138)