For the first time since their season finale in 2011 the Super Cup Stock Car Series will be back at the site of where it all began, Hickory Motor Speedway. This time around they will be a companion event to the Pro All Stars Series and their annual Easter Bunny 150. Several teams have been preparing for more than six months for the first race on the 2014 schedule.
The team to beat going into the weekend in North Carolina will be Peck Motorsports. Todd Peck captured his first career Super Cup championship in 2013 and looks to accomplish something that has eluded him so far, a victory at the historic “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.” Peck finished second there in 2010, but has otherwise run into bad luck while running toward the front in additional previous starts.
Riding a string of momentum will be veteran drivers Kevin Kromer and Brent Nelson. Kromer hasn’t finished outside the top five in more than a year but definitely does not want to end up winless like in 2013, while Nelson comes off a breakthrough first career win last time out at Motordrome and heads to Hickory with confidence.
Momentum aside, there may not be another driver more confident than Hiddenite, North Carolina’s Jon Kerley. His only start in the Super Cup Stock Car Series last June at Motordrome resulted in a sixth place finish. Nevertheless, he brings decades of experience with him to his home track.
“I grew up at the place,” said Kerley. “My race car is twenty years old and I haven’t run a race at Hickory in eleven years, but I’m kind of there to win.”
The car he will be driving originated as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series machine in 1994 that belonged to Mike Potter, and was later converted to an ARCA then a Pro Cup and now a Super Cup car. When it comes to the race, Kerley has an idea of what might be important.
“The big challenge for this race is they put crack-sealer down back in January or February and the stuff has been coming up. The Late Models are running new track records, but how (the Super Cup cars) react to the sealer is going to be the key.”
Kerley has enjoyed his share of good results at Hickory running weekly in the early-to-mid 1990s and leading laps and finishing second and third in a couple Pro Cup races, but now his racing dreams and aspirations have passed and winning would take on a different meaning today.
“My grandson just turned eight years old and it’ll probably be the only chance to see me race. It’s just like one last chance.”
Back in the 1990s, Kerley assisted Kerry and Kelley Earnhardt when they raced weekly at the facility. There’s even a photo on the internet from 1994 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. wearing a Jon Kerley t-shirt while pushing a Late Model.
“Dale Jr. don’t always wear t-shirts, but when he does they have my name on them,” joked Kerley.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first race in quite a while in this year’s Daytona 500. Could the same be said for Jon Kerley on Saturday night?
More competitors hope to have a say in that. J.J. Pack is the only driver entered to previous lead laps in a Super Cup race at Hickory. That particular day resulted in a sixth place finish; however, Pack rides a streak of no finishes worse than third in his last four starts.
On the opposite end of the momentum spectrum are father and son Harvey and Brian Harrison. Harvey finished off 2013 with his best finish of the season of sixth, but hopes to return to his winning ways. Last time at Hickory, Harvey led the field to green but didn’t even make it to turn one without major damage to the front of his car. For the 2014 running, the goal would most certainly be to match or better his previous best Hickory result of third in 2010.
For Brian Harrison, 2013 was a nightmare. Each of his five starts ended before the checkered flag flew, but he comes into Hickory with previous finishes of fourth, sixth, and seventh. Brian would like nothing more than to shake off the bad luck from the previous year.
In addition, there will be a vast amount of newcomers when it comes to competing in a Super Cup car at the unique .363-mile oval. Drivers like Lou Ansel, Kyle Kromer, Rob Morris, Mike Senica along with rookies Chris Wenzel, Josh Ebbert and more will be on hand to take to the track for the first time early on Easter weekend.
It will all commence starting on Friday afternoon with an optional practice session, followed by a day full of action on Saturday leading up to the 75 lap feature. Visit the official Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SCSCSRacing for updates throughout the weekend, and www.supercupstockcarseries.com will be the place to go for a recap and more following the race