USCS Hickory preview

FAYETTEVILLE, GA - The pavement pounders of the United Sprint Car Series Asphalt Thunder Tour will roll into historic Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on April 30 for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Thunder In Carolina Spectacular. The top winged...

FAYETTEVILLE, GA - The pavement pounders of the United Sprint Car Series Asphalt Thunder Tour will roll into historic Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on April 30 for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Thunder In Carolina Spectacular. The top winged outlaw sprint car drivers in the Southeast will be trying to top a stellar performance from last year's Hickory event.

Several "die-hard" stock car fans that frequent Hickory Motor Speedway on a weekly basis called last year's USCS Hickory show "one of the most spectacular races" they had ever seen.

Many of the same drivers that thrilled the huge crowd last year are returning in an attempt to make this year's event an even more memorable experience. Defending USCS Asphalt Thunder Champion and 2003 Hickory winner Kenny Adams of Malabar, FL will return along with the defending and three-time USCS National Champion Terry Gray of Bartlett, TN.

Add in last year's Hickory showstopper Jim Raptis of Marietta, GA, and the current USCS Asphalt Thunder point leader Doug Berryman of Mansfield, OH, and you have ingredients for a spectacular show.

For added measure, you can also throw in USCS pavement specialists Ted Williams of Atlanta, GA, Brad Davis of Rutherfordton, NC, and Will Ragsdale of Easley, SC. Also entered is USCS Asphalt Thunder Rookie of the Year point leader, "Young Gun" 18-year-old Troy DeCaire of Tampa, FL.

Berryman will lead the "Buckeye Bandits Brigade" to Hickory, NC. Berryman will be joined by Joe Rebman of Mansfield, OH and Frank Neill of Vickery, OH. Berryman outran Gray to win the USCS Asphalt Thunder season opener on March 27 at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, GA.

Adams will be playing catch up in USCS Asphalt Thunder points at Hickory. "The Malabar Missile" crashed out of the Lanier race on the opening lap, and ended up 21st on the finish sheet.

Last year at Hickory, Adams first thrilled the crowd by setting an all-time track record around the 3/8-mile oval with a lap in 12.261 seconds for an average speed of 110.105 miles per hour. Adams started on the pole position, and many railbirds expected him to run away with the race.

Raptis started third, and had other ideas. Raptis kept the crowd on their feet as he put the pressure on Adams in the opening laps of the race. On the 12th lap, Raptis dove to the inside of turn one to pull even with Adams, but Adams was able to lead down the backstretch. As the lead duo raced into turn three, Raptis did something the Hickory regulars had never seen before.

Raptis drove to the third groove on the outside lane of Hickory Motor Speedway, and drove around Adams to take the lead.

Once on the point, Raptis began to pull away from Adams and looked like a sure winner until the halfway point. Raptis got into a lapped car, and crashed out of the race, but the appreciative HMS fans gave him a standing ovation for the spectacular turn three pass for the lead.

Adams again found himself in the lead, but this time it was Gray and Berryman applying the pressure in heavy lapped traffic. The lead trio worked through the traffic at speed with precision and skill. Adams was able to hang on for the win followed by Gray and Berryman.

Fans could be treated to an even faster performance on April 30 at HMS. For 2004, USCS has mandated that its competitors use Hoosier Racing Tires, and many of the drivers feel the new tire is faster than the ones used at Hickory last year.

NASCAR legend and USCS co-owner Ernie Irvan will be at Hickory Motor Speedway on April 30 to serve as Grand Marshal for the USCS Garrett & Dyer Ford Thunder In Carolina Spectacular. Irvan will be meeting and greeting the fans and signing autographs at the track from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Also on hand will be the two-seater winged outlaw sprint car from the Dave Blaney Outlaw Driving Experience. Fans can have an opportunity to win the "Ride of a Lifetime" in the 700-horsepower machine, and strap in for a ride around Hickory Motor Speedway.

Fans can enter for one of four drawings for a ride at Garrett & Dyer Ford on U.S. Highway 70 in Conover, NC beginning on Monday. The four winners will be announced during the USCS Open House at Garrett & Dyer Ford on Thursday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Along with the USCS Asphalt Thunder winged outlaw sprint cars, the Carolina Ford Focus Midget Series will also be in action to provide even more exciting open-wheel competition. USCS and the CFFMS are now working together to provide Southeastern race fans an even more exciting open-wheel experience, and give them an idea of why the new influx of open-wheel drivers in NASCAR racing is getting so much attention.

The Hickory Motor Speedway Limited Late Model and Super Truck Divisions will also be in action for the Garrett & Dyer Ford Open-Wheel Spectacular. The pit gate will open at 4 p.m., grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., with time trials set for 7 p.m., and racing scheduled for 8 p.m.

For more information about Hickory Motor Speedway call 828-464-3655, or visit the track's web site at www.hickorymotorspeedway.com. Hickory Motor Speedway is located just off I-40 at exit 128. Go south 1/2-mile on Fairgrove Church Road, then west 1/2-mile on U.S. Highway 70, and the track will on the left. Also visit the USCS web site at www.uscsracing.com, and the Carolina Ford Focus Midget series at www.carolinamidgetseries.com.

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Kenny Adams
Teams Williams