HICKORY, N.C. — After a successful inaugural season despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Carolina Pro Late Model Series will begin its second season Saturday evening at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Nearly 30 cars have pre-entered the 100-lap main event that headlines a busy night of racing at the historic three-eighths-mile asphalt oval that also includes a 62-lap Carolina Crate Modified Series race, a pair of 40-lap late model stock car features and races for the limited late model and street stock classes.
A limited number of fans will be allowed in the grandstands based on North Carolina’s current COVID-19 policies. Fans unable to attend the event will be able to watch it live via SPEED SPORT Network affiliate HickoryMotorSpeedway.TV for a one-time cost of $14.95.
Keith Graham, who founded the series with his wife Wendi, is thrilled to see such a strong entry list for the tour’s season opener.
“Last year was very successful with what we had,” Graham said. “I think it just got around. I think the word spread that we were providing a good place to go race and putting on good shows.”
A season ago the Carolina Pro Late Model Series was originally scheduled to debut in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the series to wait until May to make its debut at Dillon (S.C.) Motor Speedway.
With the pandemic keeping the gates closed at many tracks, Hickory Motor Speedway stepped up and allowed the series to hold six of its nine events at the track. Other events last year were run at Dillon, Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway and North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway.
“Hickory really stepped up and helped us out a lot last year with the other tracks not racing without fans,” Graham said. “Hickory gave us a big opportunity to get our name out there and I think that’s really what propelled us to get everything going and get the flow going.
“We were able to still put on eight races last year amongst the COVID situation and I think that’s really what helped us the most. We were still able to race.”
Carson Kvapil, the son of 2003 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, won all but two races en route to the inaugural series championship. Other race winners last year were Nick Loden and Kyle Campbell.
Carson Kvapil’s younger brother, Caden Kvapil, is among those who have pre-entered Saturday’s race. Others who have pre-entered include Loden, Campbell, Tyler Church, Devin O’Connell, Annabeth Barnes Crum and Jerick Johnson.
“It blows my mind, to be honest with you,” Graham said of the solid pre-entry turnout. “I wasn’t expecting to be successful this quick. I was really nervous at the beginning. It’s fantastic. During the offseason when I was receiving phone calls about some of those racers wanting to come run with us, it made me and Wendi super happy about the whole situation.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the racers, their families and fans for supporting the series and helping us get this thing off the ground,” Graham continued. “Without them, we wouldn’t have anything.”
Grandstands open at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, with qualifying set to begin at 4:15 p.m. The first green flag of the evening is set to wave at 6 p.m.
Hickory Motor Speedway Carolina Pro Late Model Series Pre-Entries
1X – Tyler Church
2 – Amber Lynn
2R – Ronald Renfrow
03 – Kyle Campbell
4 – Leland Honeyman
5 – Jasec Holladay
07 – Riley Neal
11 – Tony Cosentino
12 – Annabeth Barnes Crum
15nc – Chad Malloy
18 – Bill Catania
21 – Tommy Neal
22 – Tim Hollis
24 – Penn Crim
35 – Caden Kvapil
43 – Nick Loden
43d – Kyle DeSouza
43s – William Sawalich
44 – Josh Van Winkle
51 – Nathan Byrd
63 – Josh Lowder
71 – Katie Hettinger
76 – Jerick Johnson
81 – Bryce Carver
98 – Matt Henley
143 – Devin O’Connell