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Hickerson is King of Mods in No-Fender Nationals

Hickerson is King of Mods in No-Fender Nationals

TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (July 1) — Polesitter Eric Hickerson of Linden, Tenn., emerged from an early side-by-side battle with fellow front-row starter Bradley Qualls during the opening two circuits and continued to victory in the third edition of the King of Mods/No Fender Nationals Saturday night at high-banked North Alabama Speedway.

Those two circuits spent door to door marked the closest anyone could get to Hickerson the rest of the night, as the veteran competitor routinely established leads from six to 10 car lengths and crossed the stripe 1.735 seconds ahead of Qualls to secure a $3,000 victory in the ninth scheduled event of a 12-race season for the Tri-State Open Wheel Modified Series, which is co-sanctioned by Crate Racin’ USA.

It was Hickerson’s second win in a row on the tour, and was fresh on the heels of his victory in the High Bank Hustler at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Summertown, Tenn., which was postponed by rain and rescheduled to June 17 at the steeply-banked facility.

It was also a solid performance for Qualls, who raced only a handful of times last season before making a return this year in a Lightning Chassis. That chassis company swept the top three positions in the 40-lap feature, as Hickerson’s own son Logan Hickerson crossed the stripe third in the same brand.

Completing the top five in a 24-car field were Mike Henn and Blaze Trull.

“Bradly [Qualls] and I raced hard on the opening laps because we both knew that might be a tell-tale sign of what was going to happen,” Hickerson said. “We went down into the first corner both wanting the early advantage, and he stayed with me for awhile before we got the lead.”

Hickerson then maintained the advantage through eight restarts that resulted from caution flags that were thrown for various spins and accidents. He drove away from a second-place battle between Qualls and his son Logan Hickerson, and dealt with a tight-handling car to post the victory over a 24-car field that was culled from a 33-strong list of competitors that towed their machines through the pit gate.

“We just went on with it, but the car got tight halfway through the race, and then the track took a little rubber with about 10-15 laps to go. Then we had that last caution flag and the car had gotten a little tighter, so I knew I had to charge the corner harder. It’s one of those deals that when you’ve got the rubber coming down, you gotta run a lot harder. I knew my boy [Logan Hickerson] was behind me back there, and I was hoping he’d be able to pass Bradly [Qualls] so we could run first and second.”

Qualls was able to post a second-place finish over the younger Hickerson, but the pair raced back and forth while battling for the runnerup spot.

“I could get under him [Qualls], and we did about two or three times, but I just couldn’t run off the corner with him in the rubber,” Logan Hickerson said. “It was starting to become more of a one-lane racetrack with 10 or 15 laps to go, but the track was real good earlier and we raced pretty hard together before that rubber started to happen. My car felt real good on the bottom, and his was maneuvering pretty well on the top, and we were able to race side by side for awhile.”

Qualls, who is returning to active racing after an absence during the 2022 season, was also battling a tight-handling car.

“I was real tight early, but I think that’s the first race we’ve finished and we’ll take it,” Qualls said. “We took last year away, and came back to racing again this year with a new car. The more fuel I burned tonight, the better we got. That might have been good for us towards the end, but the track rubbered up and the car got tight again. We had a good race early with Eric [Hickerson], and that was fun because we’ve raced together for nearly 20 years. He’s a good one and he’s tough to beat, for sure.”

Sponsors on the race winner’s MCR Motorsports-fielded entry were Quality Building Supply, By-Pass Market & Deli, Pasternak Protection Project, Hickerson Farms, Zemer Engineering, Buzz’s Body Shop, War Shocks and Extreme Concepts. Twisted Performance & Machine provided the power.

The next events for the traveling series are Aug. 5 at Senoia (Ga.) Raceway, Oct. 14 at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala., and Oct. 28 at North Alabama Speedway in Tuscumbia, Ala.

King of Mods/No-Fender Nationals: 1. Eric Hickerson, 2. Bradly Qualls, 3. Logan Hickerson, 4. Mike Henn, 5. Blaze Trull, 6. Jammie Gowers, 7. Jordan Phillips, 8. Tyler Wood, 9. Shannon Davis, 10. E.J. Carter, 11. Ryan King, 12. Dillan Daniels, 13. Luke Riddle, 14. Gary Tucker, 15. Victoria Anderson, 16. Kyle May, 17. Jarrad Gray, 18. Chuck Gipson, 19. Kyle Clifton, 20. Blake Cross, 21. Kelly Davis, 22. Daniel Bradford, 23. Aaron Miller, 24. Keith Coan.

Entries: 33
Fast qualifier: Eric Hickerson, 15.463 seconds.
Lead changes: None.
Lap leaders: Eric Hickerson 1-40.
Cautions: 8
Margin of victory: 1.735 seconds
Heat winners: Blaze Trull, Logan Hickerson, Keith Coan, Jordan Phillips.
B-main winners: Jammie Gowers, Gary Tucker.
Nonqualifiers feature: Seth Johnston

Article Credit: Brian McLeod

Roger Dabbs Chevrolet

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