By Jessica Mardis
After weeks of work, the Short Track Fire and Rescue mini stock, the King of the Hill, $5,000-to-win show finally threw down the green flag at Hilltop Speedway. With fans as well as drivers from all over coming to see who would claim the King of the Hill, it was a terrific night of racing.
Starting off the night’s events were the Holmes Tire late models with JR Gentry setting fast time of 15.766. A single heat race win went to “The General” George Lee while “The Flying Ace” Corey Conley claimed the dash win, placing him on the pole for the night’s feature event.
With the field set, the green was out, and it was Conley claiming the top spot. Looking to make his way to the front, Shane McLoughlin would work the bumper of Vic Hottinger for second, claiming off turn four with two laps down. Meanwhile, also working his way to the front and taking third with seven laps down was Craig Wolford, who would set his sights on the second spot of McLoughlin when the caution would come out. Back under green, Conley would again retain the top spot, leaving McLoughlin and Wolford to battle it out for second. As the laps dwindled, Conley would distance himself from the rest of the field. Thus, after nearly a half track lead, it was Conley who would sit victorious once again on the season. Finishing second, after fending off multiple charges by Wolford, was McLoughlin, followed by TJ Watson and Lee.
With a field of 22, the Rigz Towing modlite division featured three heat races with wins going to Joey Anderson, Barry Jacobs and Tracy Fritter. Bringing the field to the green, a three-wide battle for the lead would ensue between Anderson, Fritter and Shane Meadows. Edging out to take the lead off turn two with four laps down was Fritter. Meanwhile, working his way up through the field from sixth to make a charge at Fritter was Jimmy Smith, who would claim second with six laps down. Bunching back up for single-file restart, Fritter would again retain the lead as Smith looked for a way to the front. However, he was unable to surpass as Fritter would go on to pick up the feature win, followed by Smith, Meadows, Clint Snyder and Anderson.
Usually running among the modlites, the dwarf division featured an 11-car field with a single heat race win going to Nick Grubbs. As the green dropped for the 12-lap feature event, it was Grubbs as the pole sitter taking the early lead as Jacob Eakin and Carson Miller battled it out for second. Once securing second, Eakin set his sights on Grubbs. Side by side the two went into turn one with seven laps in the books, Eakin ultimately claiming the lead down the backstretch off of two. A caution flag reared its ugly head eight laps down and would single-file the field for the restart. Back under green, Eakin would maintain his position at the front of the field and go on to pick up his first feature win at The Hill. Second went to Grubbs, third to Miller, fourth to Jason Myers and fifth to Mark Suchan.
Rounding out the night’s events was the highly anticipated King of the Hill race. An astounding 58 entries arrived at The Hill in the Short Track Fire and Rescue mini stock division, all looking to claim King of the Hill and pick up a $5,000 payday. Among six heat races, wins went to Doug Hensel, Wes Staley, Brad Hensel, April Tenant, Gary Hensel, Jr. and Billy Parsons, securing their place in the night’s feature. Also picking up wins among two last-chance races were Cliff Staley and Cory Staley.
Bringing the field to the start of their 30-lap feature, it was Gary Hensel, Jr. who would take the early lead, followed by Jordan James. An early caution a mere two laps into the race would reset the field for their double-file restart. With the green back out, Gary Hensel, Jr. would again jump out front as a three-wide battle for top five would ensue between Staley, Brad Hensel and Brent Boreman. Seven laps down, Brad Hensel would work his way around James to ultimately claim second when caution would once again come out. Back under green with the Hensels on the front row, the battle would begin for the lead with Gary Hensel, Jr. edging out Brad Hensel at the line lap after lap. Meanwhile, making his presence known was Justin Williamson, who would work his way into the top four from an 11th-place start. Caution with 20 laps down would once again set up the field for the intensifying Hensel restart. With the green out, both Hensels would continue side by side, challenging one another for the lead with Gary Hensel, Jr. maintaining his position at the front of the field. Undeterred, after another caution with 24 laps down, Brad Hensel would surpass Gary Hensel, Jr. to claim the lead on lap 26. That elation would be short-lived for Brad Hansel as Gary Hansel, Jr. would drive back to claim the lead on lap 27. With three to go, the battle continued side by side.
After fending off multiple challenges from the initial drop of the green, it was Gary Hensel, Jr. who would claim King of the Hill and pick up an unheard of $5,000 payday. Rounding out the top five was Brad Hensel, Williamson, Staley and Wayne Newberry.