Derek Ramstrom captures wild PASS victory at Hickory

Derek Ramstrom notched his second PASS win at Hickory

The Pro All Stars Series for Super Late Model cars invaded the Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday to contest the 14th Annual My Computer Career Easter Bunny 150. The $5,000-to-win event lured in some of pavement short-track racing’s top veteran stars as well as an outstanding list of up-and-coming talent to compete for the top prize on the historic and worn surface of the track located in the hill country of western North Carolina.

And for the second time in just over five months it was West Boylston, Mass. driver Derek Ramstrom who came away with the win. The No. 35 car pulled into victory lane after some wild action had played out throughout the feature event.

Five-time Easter Bunny 150 winner Preston Peltier led the way in qualifying by posting a lap of 14.603 seconds around the .363 speedway. The No. 33 car was followed by Stephen Nasse, Bubba Pollard, Jake Johnson, Kyle Plott, Tate Fogelman, Kodie Conner, Mike Hopkins, Wyatt Alexander and Molly Helmuth.

The PASS Series redraw placed Fogleman on the pole for the main event with Plott, Nasse, Conner, Hopkins, Peltier, Helmuth, Alexander, Pollard and Johnson lining up in the following positions on the starting grid.

At the start of the 150-lap feature it was Fogleman who drove to the front of the pack with Plott, Hopkins, Peltier, Conner and Nasse trailing. Peltier wasted little time in showing that he fully intended to score a sixth Easter Bunny 150 win as he moved to the outside lane and picked off Hopkins for the third position. Nasse followed Peltier through and took fourth away from Hopkins moments later.

Peltier then took second away from Plott on the ninth circuit and began his pursuit of the leading car of Fogleman. And once again, Nasse followed and wrested the third spot from Plott.

On lap 15, Peltier completed his charge by taking the top spot away from Fogleman. And once more, Nasse followed suit and grabbed the runner-up position.

Hopkins showed signs of strength when on lap 23 he moved around Fogleman for third and then one lap later took over second from Nasse.

A series of cautions over the next several laps not only slowed the pace but also provided opportunities for drivers further back in the field to make up ground and to gain positions following the restarts. One of those drivers was the ninth starting Pollard who found himself in the fourth position on lap 34 then in third on lap 37.

At that point, the three cars of Peltier, Nasse and Pollard looked as if they had every intention of breaking away from the field and settling the issue among themselves. Particularly, Pollard and Nasse fought over second for several laps as the race approached halfway.

Further back, drivers such as Fogleman, Plott and Conner engaged in a dispute for positions 4-6. In the meantime, Ramstrom and Matt Craig began to work their way forward within the back half of the top-10 as did Derek Griffith and Brandon Setzer.

During the second half of the event, Peltier and Pollard engaged in a crossover move making battle that saw them swap the lead three times between laps 106 and 108. At the same time, Ramstrom began quietly gaining ground and by moving up through the top-5. The No. 35 machine eventually moved to third while the lead duo were harassing each other at every turn.

Perhaps the race’s biggest moment occurred on lap 134. As Peltier and Pollard were again exchanging the lead, Peltier’s car tagged the rear bumper of Pollard’s as they roared through turn four. The contact resulted in a spin by Pollard. PASS officials decided to send Peltier to the rear of the field for rough driving while Pollard had to seek attention from his crew on pit road.

With the two drivers who appeared set to decide the race among themselves now at the rear of the field, Hopkins, Fogleman and Ramstrom would occupy the top-3 positions with a fast rising Corey Heim closing in.

Following a lap 142 restart, Fogleman took the lead as Heim moved into second. Then, with just four laps remaining, Heim got into the rear bumper of Fogleman which sent the lead car for a spin. Heim was sent to the tail for rough driving.

Hopkins and Ramstrom occupied the front row for the ensuing restart. After a brief battle, Ramstrom emerged with the lead and drove on to the win.

Easter Bunny 150 Finish: 1. Derek Ramstrom, 2. Mike Hopkins, 3. Brandon Setzer, 4. Travis Stearns, 5. Justin Crider, 6. Bubba Pollard, 7. Gracie Trotter, 8. Trey Jarrell, 9. Stephen Nasse, 10. Nicholas Naugle, 11. Preston Peltier, 12. Jerrick Johnson, 13. Corey Heim, 14. Trey Bayne, 15. J.P. Josiasse, 16. Molly Helmuth, 17. Tate Fogleman, 18. Matt Craig, 19. Wyatt Alexander, 20. Travis Benjamin, 21. Jared Irvan, 22. Jason Stanley, 23. Bronson Butcher, 24. Kodie Conner, 25. Jett Noland, 26. Kyle Plott, 27. Wes Burton, 28. Jake Johnson, 29. Derek Griffith, 30. Ben Rowe, 31. Ray Christian III, 32. Devin O’Connell, 33. Christian Rose

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association

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