HICKORY, N.C. – Allen Purkhiser had the car to beat Saturday night during the Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series Rev-Oil 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway, it just wasn’t the car he expected to race.
After breaking a piston in his primary car early Saturday afternoon, Purkhiser and his Premiere Motorsports crew pulled out his red back-up car and quickly prepared it for 250 laps of racing at the three-eighths-mile asphalt oval.
That turned out to be the race-winning move.
Caleb Holman started his No. 75 Food Country USA Dodge from the pole and dominated the first half of the race. However, once the second-half started it was an entirely new ballgame.
Holman held the lead at the start of the second half of the race, but Purkhiser closed the gap quickly. By lap 170 Purkhiser was right behind Holman and four laps later he made his move, taking the lead away from Holman.
On lap 184 the caution flag waved when Holman’s Dodge began smoking. Holman ended up pulling his entry into the pits, parking it for the night.
That allowed J.P. Morgan, who brought out the first caution flag of the night on lap 10 with a spin in turns three and four after contact with Purkhiser, to take over the second position for the restart. Morgan managed to lead one lap as he battled with Purkhiser for the lead after the restart, but Purkhiser muscled his way back out front.
The final caution flag of the night waved on lap 225 when Nathan Russell went for a spin in turns three and four. That gave Morgan one final shot at Purkhiser during the restart on lap 231. Morgan ran alongside Purkhiser for a few laps, but he couldn’t make the pass and dropped back behind Morgan.
Once clear, Purkhiser drove away and crossed the finish line more than three seconds ahead of his closest pursuer.
“We’ve actually won a race with it (the back-up car),” Purkhiser said, referencing his victory earlier this year at Ace Speedway. “I knew we had a shot at it. There at halfway we changed to our second set (of tires) and it seemed to be a little bit better. We definitely picked up some speed and it started handling better.”
Lucas Ransone made a late charge through the field and slipped by Morgan on the final lap to finish second.
“Our car took a little bit to come in,” Ransone said. “With about 50 to go I found something that worked with my car and I started using it, but we had those cautions so I didn’t really get to use it. I’ve got to thank my guys, this is probably going to be our last race (this year) but we’ll be back eventually and hopefully run some more next year.”
Morgan finished third and maintained his comfortable lead in the Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series championship standings with one race remaining.
“That last run we got tight,” Morgan said. “The car was good, but Allen and those guys had a really, really good car. I know he had a good time driving it I’m sure. I really wanted to get to his back bumper and see if I could run him up the track a little bit after he spun me there in the first part (of the race).
“I probably wouldn’t have spun him out but I was gonna sure give him a good shot so I could get around him,” Morgan said.
Rookie Dalton Hopkins came from the rear of the field to finish a career-best fourth. Tyler Young, who won his first Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series race at Hickory in March, finished fifth.