HICKORY, N.C. — After setting fast time during qualifying for the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon, Derek Griffith was asked if he was any good at the historic .363-mile asphalt oval.
“Maybe just a little bit,” he said with a smile as he exited his No. 12G LCM Motorsports super late model.
Griffith has been smiling a lot as of late, and for good reason. In February the native of Hudson, N.H., won three super late model races and captured the division championship during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.
It was the second straight season Griffith, 24, has claimed the signature World Series title. He’s one of only five drivers to win consecutive championships in the top division in World Series history.
With another World Series title in his pocket, Griffith has kept up the pace. He drove to a fourth-place finish during the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in March, coming back from a lap down to earn the top-five result.
“We were really happy with New Smyrna, we were real happy with the Rattler,” Griffith said. “We came from a lap down to finish fourth and had a really, really good race car. My super late model team is small. We’ve got a small group of guys. Not very many people come in and work with us or do a lot of things with us. I’m really lucky to do what I do.”
Then there was last Friday and Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the Pro All Stars Series hosted a pair of Easter Bunny 150 races. Friday’s race was a make-up race for the 2020 edition that was nixed by COVID-19, with Saturday’s event serving as the 2021 running of the event.
Griffith had run well in the Easter Bunny 150 in the past, but circumstances always prevented him from sealing the deal.
“We’ve just been right there. We’ve had the car to do it with, but luck or someone would be just a little bit better than us,” Griffith said.
That was not the case this time around.
On Friday Griffith was dominant. He set fast time in qualifying, started fifth after the redraw and drove to the front by lap 26. He led the remainder of the 150-lap race and held off veteran D.J. Shaw during multiple restarts.
“We just had to really hit our marks,” Griffith said. “I took the lead there pretty early. I knew we were good enough to set our own pace for the race. D.J. probably did a little better job saving than I did, but I think we had a better race car than he did.”
One day later, Griffith was looking for his second Easter Bunny 150 in as many days. He again set fast time in qualifying, started fourth after the redraw and spent most of the race battling for the lead with Joey Polewarczyk Jr.
In the end, it was Griffith who went to victory lane again, overcoming Polewarczyk during a late-race restart. It was Griffith’s fifth victory in 11 races this year, including a 30th-place finish in the ARCA Menards Series opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway for Venturini Motorsports.
“It was funny, I said this place owed us one. Really it owed us more than one and I’m glad we finally got them,” Griffith said. “It just means a lot to come down here. This place is so, so cool. Such a historic track. So many cool things have happened here. So many amazing racers started here. It’s cool to get a couple wins.”
Momentum certainly is on Griffith’s side and he’ll need it as he prepares for a busy month of April. He’s scheduled to compete every weekend this month, with events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park and Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on his schedule.
“This whole month of April we’re going to be racing. We’ve got here (Hickory), we’re going to run Thompson next weekend, then we’ve got New Hampshire Motor Speedway after that and then we’ve got Stafford,” Griffith said. “We’re jam packed. It’s hard not to be pretty happy with everything and how it’s going.”
Beyond those events, Griffith says he plans to pick and choose where he races rather than follow a particular series. He also has at least one additional ARCA race with Venturini Motorsports on his schedule.
“To carry the Speedweeks momentum and now this and the Alabama race, it’s hard not to be pretty happy and roll into Thompson next weekend with a car in one piece,” Griffith said. “I’m pumped, I can’t wait. We’ve got a good car to work on. We’ll bring her home, clean her up a little bit and head to Thompson.”