HICKORY, N.C. – Derek Griffith completed a sweep of the Easter Bunny 150 weekend Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway with his second victory in as many days at the historic oval.
Griffith dominated Friday’s 150-lap affair that served as the 2020 edition of the event after it was delayed by COVID-19 last year, but he had his work cut out for him during Saturday’s second 150-lap feature to close out the weekend for the Pro All Stars Series super late models.
Starting fourth following a redraw of the fast qualifiers, Griffith spent most of the race in a back-and-forth battle with fellow Northerner Joey Polewarczyk Jr. The two traded the lead multiple times throughout the event during restarts, with each driver gaining the upper hand at points during the race.
Polewarczyk was the first to lead, grabbing the lead from polesitter Carson Hocevar on the 17th lap. Griffith would soon follow Polewarczyk around Hocevar and the two would stay that way until the first caution waved with 59 laps complete.
“He (Joey) had a really, really good car. I saw it early in the race because he had it turned on, he was going,” Griffith said. “I knew if I got to a good point for a good restart I’d be alright to race with him, but I knew I didn’t have quite a good enough car to race wit him that early.”
During the restart Griffith rocketed past Polewarczyk to take the lead for the first time, but Polewarczyk stayed with him throughout the run until the next caution waved for a spin by D.J. Shaw in turn four after 98 laps.
Griffith held serve during that restart, but another restart following a caution on lap 112 saw Polewarczyk gain the upper hand and move around Griffith to retake the lead.
Polewarczyk’s time at the point was brief. The caution flag would soon wave again, this time for a multi-car melee on lap 114 that started when a part failed on the car of Evan Hallstrom on the backstretch. The resulting incident collected Trevor Sanborn and Ben Rowe.
Much like Polewarczyk had done to him on the previous restart, Griffith got the upper hand on the next restart and was able to grab the lead back. One final caution would wave on lap 131, setting up a final battle between Griffith and Polewarczyk.
When the green flag waved again the two waged a multi-lap battle for the lead, but after several laps side-by-side it was Griffith who emerged at the front of the field. Griffith would stretch his lead in the final run, beating Polewarczyk to the checkered flag by .771 seconds.
“The track lost a ton of grip overnight. I don’t know what happened with tires or the heat or whatever, but it just seemed like the bottom groove wasn’t as good as it was yesterday,” Griffith said. “We weren’t as good as we were yesterday. We just held on there. We made sure we saved it everything we could. It paid off.”
Polewarczyk said the outside line was the place to be on restarts, but acknowledged that Griffith was the man to beat.
“The outside definitely seemed like the place to be on restarts,” Polewarczyk said. “I think Derek could fire off a little bit better than me on initial starts. It took my car like five to 10 laps to get into a groove. With that last restart, I tried to stick it out there, but Derek is really good. He’s pretty much the best there is in super late models right now.”
Mike Hopkins finished third for the second-straight night. Shaw recovered from his spin to finish fourth, with Jake Matheson completing the top-five.
Derek Griffith, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Mike Hopkins, D.J. Shaw, Jake Matheson, Cory Casagrande, Lucas Ransone, Ryan Kuhn, Travis Benjamin, Gabe Brown, Kate Re, Kyle DeSouza, Derek Kneeland, Dennis Spencer, Justin Crider, Travis Stearns, Joey Doyon, Jordan Miller, Evan Hallstrom, Trevor Sanborn, Ben Rowe, Annabeth Barnes Crum, Trevor Bleau, Devin O’Connell, Carson Hocevar, Joey Doiron, Anthony Constantino.