The 14th rendition of the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway quickly devolved from a two-way duel into a battle royale in which Derek Ramstrom emerged the victor.
For much of the race, it appeared as if Bubba Pollard or Preston Peltier would win the race.
Instead, the two contested a 30-lap battle that ultimately concluded in disaster for both on Lap 138 when Peltier tagged Pollard and sent him around off the exit of Turn 4. The spin was the result of a hard battle in which both drivers initiated contact with the other.
Pro All Stars Series race control sent Peltier to the rear for contact and Pollard was there waiting for him as the victim of the spin.
Meanwhile, that left Tate Fogleman, Mike Hopkins, Ramstrom, Corey Heim and Brandon Setzer to battle at the front of the field. Fogleman was then tagged from behind by Heim in the ensuing restart, with race control sending Heim to the rear, with Folgleman also starting at the back as the victim of the spin.
Thus, Ramstrom held off Hopkins and won his second-straight PASS race at Hickory, following the Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown.
“This place is incredible,” Ramstrom said in Victory Lane. “It’s unfortunate what happened to Preston and Bubba. I didn’t see it. It definitely changed the outcome of the race. It definitely helped us get here. Also, with Fogleman and Corey Heim, I didn’t see what happened there either.
“A lot of things played out in my favor but that’s racing. We haven’t had the best start to our season. We’ve worked extremely hard and earned it.”
The extra aggression was likely caused by persistent rain showers that hit the North Carolina foothills all afternoon. Even during the race itself, there was precipitation all around the track, and it was obvious that some drivers expected the race to end at any moment.
“Everyone was being aggressive all night for sure,” Ramstrom said. “I don’t think anyone had anything but Preston or Bubba but sometimes it works out. It was a good time.”
As for Pollard and Peltier, both drivers accused each other of the same things in interviews conducted by Speed51.com after the race:
“It was going to come down to me and Preston,” Pollard told Speed51. “We traded paint back and forth. Just good short track racing. It could have been a good race to the finish.
“It was good, hard racing, and he turned it into something else,” Pollard added. “It could have ended in a good race for the fans, but he wanted to play dirty.”
Peltier felt Pollard crossed the line first in their battle.
“He crossed me over and put me in the fence on the backstretch,” Peltier said. “I don’t care if you’re Bubba Pollard or not, I ain’t gonna take no crap from you. If you’re going to stick me in the fence and I’m not going to win, you’re not going to win either.
“I was going to race him hard,” Peltier added. “Maybe a little rubbing, but I wouldn’t have stuck him in the fence. I think that he thought that’s what he had to do to win. He did it, and that’s where we are.”
Meanwhile, the runner-up finish for Hopkins wasn’t the worst result given that it follows a victory in the inaugural Commonwealth Classic at Richmond Raceway earlier this month.
He also respects Ramstrom too much to have taken the win away from him.
“If it were anyone else, I probably would have banzai’d him,” Hopkins said. “I just hate feeling like I gave one away.”
Of course, it helps that the second-place finish makes him the early championship favorite as well.
“That’s the plan Gary and I from Port City race cars made,” Hopkins said. “One way or the other we’re going to go down swinging. We didn’t have the finish we wanted at Thompson but this is how you rebound.
The complete results from the 2019 PASS Easter Bunny 150 can be found below.
- Derek Ramstrom
- Mike Hopkins
- Brandon Setzer
- Travis Stearns
- Justin Crider
- Bubba Pollard
- Gracie Trotter
- Trey Jarrell
- Stephen Nasse
- Nicholas Naugle
- Preston Peltier
- Jerick Johnson
- Corey Heim
- Trey Bayne
- J.P. Josiasse
- Molly Helmuth
- Tate Fogleman
- Matt Craig
- Wyatt Alexander
- Travis Benjamin
- Jared Irvan
- Jason Stanley
- Bronson Butcher
- Kodie Conner
- Jett Noland
- Kyle Plott
- Wes Burton
- Jake Johnson
- Derek Griffith
- Ben Rowe
- Ray Christian
- Devin O’Connell
- Christian Rose