Magic was in the air on Saturday night as the cars of Dave Marcis and Robert Hamke both returned to Edelbrock Victory Lane at Hickory Motor Speedway. Drivers Ryan Repko (Marcis) and Matt Craig (Hamke) drove their respective throwback liveries to wins in the 3rd Annual Throwback 276 by Baker Distributing, each with their honorees in attendance at the event.
SUPER LATE MODEL RECAP
Matt Craig rocketed to the Mahle Pistons Pole Position in qualifying and earned the right to control the field for the opening lap, but Bubba Pollard beat Craig to the stripe on lap 1 and led the opening handful of laps.
A crash in turn two on lap 15 eliminated Gus Dean, Harold Crooms and Justin Crider from competition and regrouped the field for an early restart. Matt Craig stole the lead back from Pollard just four laps later until Donnie Wilson took over on lap 27.
Craig proceeded to dominate the middle stages of a rather calm feature, pacing the field through two competition cautions (laps 55 and 95) until Pollard returned to haunt the No. 74 Chevrolet's rearview mirror. Pollard nosed ahead on lap 114 but Craig continued to fight for the top spot, edging back ahead of the Georgia driver on lap 115.
The two continued to duel through the final 20 circuits, while Pollard nearly made contact with Craig's rear bumper on multiple occasions. The fight allowed Brandon Setzer to close in and pass Pollard for second in the final two laps, but Craig was unstoppable and claimed his first Throwback 276 by Baker Distributing. Setzer, Pollard, inaugural winner Tate Fogleman, and Donnie Wilson rounded out the top five.
"Bubba is one of the best there is out there right now and I had to drive it for everything it was worth," Craig said in Edelbrock Victory Lane. "My car was a little tight center and loose in, but I didn't care. If I wrecked it by myself, it was going to be all right because I was hanging it out almost like a dirt car I felt like.
"This race has turned into a crown jewel in super late model racing, and I'm so glad I got one," he continued enthusiastically. "With Robert's car, his name on the roof and number on the side, I knew how those guys raced back in the day. They probably raced like that every weekend. If we race like that one weekend, we're like, 'man, that was hard racing,' but it was a lot of fun. I'm really proud and glad that Robert got to ride along with me this weekend and win with us."
LATE MODEL STOCK RECAP
Driving a car that was originally supposed to debut at Hickory in 1996 with his car owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Josh Berry claimed the Hedgecock Racing Pole Position during qualifying and led the opening ten circuits of the late model stock portion of the Throwback 276. Ryan Repko, driving a Dave Marcis No. 71 car, passed Berry for the lead when he began to slow his pace on lap 11.
Following the first competition caution on lap 40, Craig Moore took Stroker Ace and the Clyde Torkel Chicken Pit Special to the front of the field and led the middle stage of the race including through a second and final competition caution which came on lap 80.
Moore and Repko pulled away from the field and on lap 111, Repko darted to the inside of Moore for the race lead in turn three. Moore's car visibly was beginning to lose the handle, while Bobby McCarty, Josh Berry and Layne Riggs began to reel in the top pair.
An incident-free event meant the race ran to its completion in nearly record time, and Repko was able to fend of a late challenge from Bobby McCarty as he caught the top two with less than ten laps to go, giving the teenager his first CARS Tour victory. Repko was followed to the line by Moore, McCarty, Riggs, and Sammy Smith.
"It's great, I tell you what!," Marcis, who was a guest of the series and met fans earlier in the day, exclaimed while waiting for Repko to exit the car after the race. "He did a fantastic job. He used his head, took care of the tires and let the other guy drive hard and just drove by him."
Marcis was the first to greet Repko once the car stopped on the frontstretch and imparted his words of apprecation and congratulation to the driver from Denver, North Carolina.
"It's an honor. This is a pretty prestigious event," Repko said between breaths in Edelbrock Victory Lane. "It's about the only one you can win with an absolutely packed house. To win a CARS race, that's huge. That's pretty much the pinnacle of short track racing right now, and I don't even know what to say, it's awesome! To be able to honor Dave Marcis, that's just great.
"I had a car similar to when I won the Bobby Isaac, and I just drove straight up off the corner. I knew I wasn't burning up my stuff," he concluded with an old-school, sly smile before celebrating with Marcis and his crew.
The next event for the CARS Racing Tour will take place August 24 at Orange County Speedway for the 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Classic paying $10,000 to win in the super late model feature, with late model stocks also on the card.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at CARSRacingTour.com, or follow them on Facebook (@CARSTour), Twitter (@CARSTour), Instagram (@cars_tour), and Snapchat (@carstour). The series also has its own YouTube channel, Roku channel (available through its TV website), and a publicly available Amazon FireTV app.
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