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Hedgecock Opens Winter Shootout Series with Ice Bowl Win

Hedgecock Opens Winter Shootout Series with Ice Bowl Win

EASTABOGA, Ala. (Jan. 8) — Cory Hedgecock knew when the team unloaded their Black Diamond Chassis entry on the first morning of the three-day Ice Bowl at Talladega Short Track that their Eagle Racing Engines-powered machine was going to provide a fast ride during the weekend.

He made a few practice laps on a day when rain interrupted activities for a few hours, and those trips around the third-mile facility gave an inkling of what might come the rest of the weekend for the Loudon, Tenn., driver.

Hedgecock was competing in the season-opening event for the Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout Series, which paid $3,000 to win and drew a strong 45-car field to the Adam Stewart and David Miller-owned speedplant, which has undergone some positive cosmetic changes since the purchase was made public last April.

A very good crowd turned out to witness the 40-lapper on a day that was quite a bit warmer than the previous two, and Hedgecock led from start to finish to earn the checkered flag over Jake Knowles, Josh Adkins, Jody Knowles and Austin Horton. He was rarely challenged, and able to hold the advantage despite seven caution flags that gave his fellow competitors some restart opportunities.

“For some reason this car was just really fast since we got here,” Hedgecock said after driving the car to victory in the opening contest of the Crate Racin’ USA-sanctioned 604 Late Model portion of the 31st annual event at the high-banked track. “We ain’t touched it all weekend. “It’s just been really good. We’re usually pretty fast at TST, and we’ve also run well at Lucas Oil [Dirt Late Model Series] shows down there, but this is a big win for our team. It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way early in the season. It’s probably not the biggest win I’ve ever had in my career, but it’s the Ice Bowl and that’s definitely a race that everyone wants to win.”

Don’t Mess With Success
It’s also not a race that’s easy to win, drawing more than 350 cars this year in eight different divisions. A fine crowd also turned out to witness the activities, blessed with warmer weather after two straight days of cold temperatures. The race was held on Saturday afternoon, leaving Sunday as a potential rain date.

“You’ve got to catch the draw just right, and you know at some point you’re probably going to be racing in the rubber,” Hedgecock said. “All weekend long we were two or three tenths of a second faster than our closest competitor, and we were able to set fast time. The car just steered good in practice sessions, with plenty of traction and plenty of scotch. I felt we were in good shape the whole weekend, but sometimes that can make you feel a little uncomfortable. You think you need to be doing more.”

Each time the car hit the racetrack and long before the main event, Hedgecock’s machine was dialed. Perhaps eerily so, and he was hesitant to touch it for fear of making an unnecessary adjustment, possibly committing a mistake on the car’s setup.

“That can be a weird feeling, because you’re trying to judge exactly where you are relative to the rest, and your car is already handling well,” Hedgecock said. “I knew we had two or three tenths on our side, and I really didn’t want to make too many changes and get to foolin’ around too much and dial us out. When you’re that fast, you’re always wondering if that two or three tenths will be enough, even if you lose a little bit on the car. I think from the time we ran hot laps to the time we raced, we only changed one bar, and slightly adjusted our wheel load. I’d go out on the track every time, and tell my dad, “Honestly, I don’t think we need to change anything.” He’d look at me, and I’d have to say it again: “No, I think we’re okay.”

Winning Formula: No Major Decisions
While such near-perfection on a race car is a rare weekend at the track, Hedgecock resisted the urge to mess with success. Making no major decisions turned out to be exactly the right decision. He took off from the pole, was never seriously challenged on restarts, and held off runnerup finisher Knowles despite hitting lapped traffic a couple times during his trip to the winner’s circle.

“Lapped traffic was the only time I felt we might have had a little trouble,” Hedgecock said. “He [Knowles] caught me one time, but we had a couple cautions at the right time, and that would leave us out front running in clean air again. One of those yellows came out late in the race and left us with a clear racetrack, and I knew we had a good car in that situation as long as we didn’t have a flat tire. The whole weekend was cold as heck, but otherwise most everything went the right way for us.”

Hedgecock is a two-time champion of the organization’s Newsome Raceway Parts Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series, having won the title in back-to-back seasons during 2016-17. He’s now the early-season points leader in the seventh edition of the Crate Racin’ USA Winter Shootout Series.

Based on weather and work-related commitments, Hedgecock has tentative plans to chase the miniseries championship and will head to the DIRTcar-sanctioned Sunshine Nationals scheduled Jan. 20-22, 2022, at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. That event is run in close collaboration with Crate Racin’ USA and Dylan Knowles of Lanett, Ala., is the reigning Winter Shootout Series champion.

Hedgecock completed the required distance in a car that carried sponsorship from E-Z-GO, Green’s Recycling, Brucebilt Performance Parts, I-75 Raceway, Budget Transmission, Cobb’s Auto Parts, Ohlins and Pro Fabrication.

About Crate Racin’ USA
The economical Chevrolet Performance 602 and 604 Circle Track Engine is utilized by competitors in the various divisions presented by Crate Racin’ USA. It’s in stock and available for free, next-day delivery from Newsome Raceway Parts in Hartsville, S.C.

Each engine is built and sealed at the factory to prevent any expensive modifications. To place an order, call 1-877-497-3624.
For more information and rules, visit the organization’s website at www.crateracinusa.com, or follow our extensive social media programs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Newsome Raceway Parts, a division of Raceway Chevrolet in Hartsville, S.C., is the title sponsor of Crate Racin’ USA. E-Z-GO Golf Carts is the title sponsor of the E-Z-GO $100,000+ Challenge.

Chevrolet Performance is an official sponsor of the organization, along with Advanced Laser & Machine, Cruise with the Champions, Hoosier Racing Tire, KRC Power Steering, Knowles Race Parts and Bodies, My Race Pass, VP Racing Fuels and Lubricants and Willy’s Carburetors.

Official chassis sponsors include Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis and CVR Race Cars.

Ice Bowl (Crate LM): 1. Cory Hedgecock, 2. Jake Knowles, 3. Josh Adkins, 4. Jody Knowles, 5. Austin Horton, 6. Booger Brooks, 7. Ty Giles, 8. Jason Welshan, 9. Oakley Johns, 10. Jamie Burford, 11. Jake Rainey, 12. T.J. Brittain, 13. Braxtin Barber, 14. Cody Ballard, 15. Tyler Wood, 16. Rodgerick Dykes, 17. Chase Walls, 18. John Ownbey, 19. Adam Ray, 20. Jake Traylor, 21. Sawyer Crigler, 22. Tim Clark, 23. Brian Smith, 24. Michael Page, 25. Dillon Tidmore.

Current points standings (Winter Shootout Series): 1. Cory Hedgecock, 100 points; 2. Jake Knowles, 96; 3. Josh Adkins, 94; 4. Jody Knowles, 92; 5. Austin Horton, 90; 6. Booger Brooks, 88; 7. Ty Giles, 86; 8. Jason Welshan, 84; 9. Oakley Johns, 82; 10. Jamie Burford, 80; 11. Jake Rainey, 78; 12. T.J. Brittain, 76; 13. Braxtin Barber, 74; 14. Cody Ballard, 72; 15. Tyler Wood, 70; 16. Rodgerick Dykes, 68; 17. Chase Walls, 66; 18. John Ownbey, 64; 19. Adam Ray, 62; 20. Jake Traylor, 60.

Total entries: 45
Boyd-Bilt Fabrication Fast Qualifier: Hedgecock, 14.194 seconds
Lap leaders: Hedgecock 1-40.
Cautions: 7
Margin of victory: 2.126 seconds
KRC Power Steering Heat Winners: Sawyer Crigler, Ty Giles, Cory Hedgecock, Jake Knowles.
KRC Power Steering B-main winners: Oakley Johns, Tim Clark.