Since it’s inception in 2006, the Easter Bunny 150 has grown to be one of the most sought after checkered flags in all of short track racing. Just a glance at the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model entry list for this Saturday afternoon’s event at Hickory Motor Speedway shows the importance of this event for racers from across the continent. And the stakes are even higher this year since the winner gets an automatic starting spot in the 43rd Annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in August.
Mike Rowe has won nearly every major short track event in New England, including the Oxford 250, during his long and successful career. And, although he was finally able to snare his first career PASS North Super Late Model championship last year, it was not actually his first PASS title. Rowe made the trek down South in 2006 and won the inaugural Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory, before eventually going on to win the first PASS South Super Late Model championship.
“When Tom [Mayberry] said he was coming down, we all said we wanted to be a part of that first deal,” said Rowe. “We had no idea that we would win, but we had a caution late in the race and I had a strong motor and I out hauled them on the line and we just came on back with a victory. I always love coming back, it’s awesome. I just love racing with the guys down here.”
One of the best in the South, particularly at Hickory Motor Speedway, is 2010 PASS National Champion, Preston Peltier. The transplanted California has raced with PASS since 2006 and has won a record six times at Hickory, including three Easter Bunny 150s. Peltier believes this Saturday afternoon’s Easter Bunny 150 will again be a hard fought race and is excited to try and lock himself into the Oxford 250.
“It takes patience, a really good car, and mix in some luck to win the Easter Bunny 150,” said Peltier, who comes to this weekend’s race as the defending winner. “You can’t beat a guaranteed starting spot in the Oxford 250, especially with the heat races, it’s a crap shoot. You can have a real good car and still not make it, so it’s good to know you’re locked in.”
Both champions will be faced with one of the strongest fields ever for the Easter Bunny 150, including former PASS champions, Tate Fogleman, Joey Doiron, Ben Rowe, and DJ Shaw. 2016 PASS South championship contenders Kodie Conner and Matt Craig, both from nearby Kannapolis, will attempt to qualify, along with Jeff Batten, Kyle Desouza, Jimmy Doyle, Vinnie Miller, Derek Scott, Jr. Former Mason-Dixon Meltdown winners, Trevor Noles and Brandon Setzer, are entered, along with a good group of PASS North championship contenders like Corey Bubar, Jeremy Davis, Mike Hopkins, John-Michael Shenette, and Travis Stearns. JP Josiasse and Matt Matheson, will represent two separate Canadian provinces. Truck Series winner Christopher Bell will make his PASS return this weekend and will be joined by LFR teammates Christian Eckes, Tanner Gray, and Riley Herbst. Cale Gale and Derek Ramstrom will be pulling duty, while Chris Dilbeck, Tracy Gordon, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Derek Kneeland, Justin Laduke Jody Measamer, and Jake Spillers have also filed entry.
All the action gets under way on Friday, March 25 at Hickory Motor Speedway with open practice for all competing divisions from 2:30 – 6 PM. On Saturday, March 26, practice will begin at 11 AM with qualifying starting at 2:15 PM for the PASS South Super Late Models, Southern Modified Racing Series and South East Mini Stock Tour followed by the Pit Party and main events for the Easter Bunny weekend starting at approximately 5 PM.