HICKORY, N.C. – Ever since the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) staged its first event at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2006, the legendary track has had a knack for attracting some of short track racing’s most talented drivers.
This weekend’s Over The Mountain 150 Presented By CV Products will be no different. A significant number of PASS South Super Late Model and PASS Pro Late Model teams have been testing at the .363 mile track in preparation for Saturday night’s seventh running of the fall classic.
Defending PASS South Super Late Model Champion Kyle Grissom is no stranger to the legendary North Carolina track that originally opened as a dirt track in 1951. Just as others before him have, Grissom made his stock car racing debut at Hickory in 2004 after moving up from the Bandolero division. And it did not take long for Grissom to reach victory lane there in a Late Model Stock car and for Hickory Motor Speedway to become one of his favorite race tracks.
“Hickory’s one of those places that can really humble you in a heartbeat,” said Grissom. “You can go there one week and think you’ve got it mastered and go back the next week and be out to lunch.”
So naturally, when Grissom decided to make the move from Late Model Stock cars to the more powerful PASS South Super Late Models, Hickory was the first place that came to mind. Grissom made his PASS South debut in the 2011 Over The Mountain 150, qualifying well and running near the front before problems relegated him to a 20th place finish. But, Grissom and the Marlowe Racing Chassis team were sold on PASS South Super Late Model racing and decided to make a run at the 2012 series championship.
It did not take long for fans and competitors to see how much potential the team had as they dominated one of the biggest short track races of the year and won the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory. That win solidified Grissom as a threat in the PASS South series. He went on to win 4 more races on the way to the championship in his rookie season.
“We won the Easter Bunny there last year and since then we’ve struggled at Hickory a little bit,” said Grissom, who enters Saturday night’s race trailing Jay Fogleman by 22 points in the PASS South standings. “I like to think we’ve got things figured out since the first race at Hickory this year and I’m going there with that mindset.”
Unique to most short tracks of comparable size, Hickory Motor Speedway offers three distinct grooves of racing, making it a favorite of fans and racers alike. While many drivers tend to think the top groove is the way to reach victory lane there, Grissom offers a different opinion.
“At Hickory, to me, the place to win has always been on the bottom,” says Grissom. “Being able to get pointed and get to the gas early is what works for me. I don’t know though, that place changes a lot, but I always tend to stick to the bottom.”
If Grissom hopes to capture his second win at Hickory in Saturday night’s Over The Mountain 150 Presented By CV Products, he will definitely have his work cut out for him as PASS continues to attract the toughest racers in the country. 4-time Hickory Motor Speedway winner Preston Peltier returns to the series this weekend. PASS South points leader Jay Fogleman is sure to be in contention along with his son, Tate, and Woodman Racing teammate Kevin Powell. Georgia rookie Spencer Davis led at Hickory in April and will be seeking his first series win. Jared Irvan finished second at South Boston Speedway and returns to the track where he made his debut a year ago.
PASS Pro Late Model points leader Trevor Noles will be doing double duty at Hickory for Coulter Motorsports. Former Mason Dixon Meltdown winner Colt James will make his first start of the season, along with veteran racer Mark Reedy. Fellow veterans Brandon Ward, Jody Measamer, Clete Caywood, Bobby Measmer, Jr., Jimmy Doyle, and Randy Gentry will each be seeking their first wins of the season. Brandon Setzer, son of former Hickory Motor Speedway track champion Dennis Setzer, will be making his series debut this weekend, while fellow rookie Joseph Mursuli seeks to continue his progression this year.