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Sawalich Hopes to Continue Winning Ways at Hickory Motor Speedway

(Photo: Kyle Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

The CARS Tour has been the staple tour in the Southeast for nearly 10 years, and the new ownership team, which was announced in January of this year, added a new dimension. The mission of the new ownership team of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Justin Marks is to bolster the health and longevity of the CARS Tour. The 2023 season has a few races under its belt, and it seems as if that is exactly what is happening.

Hickory Motor Speedway has been a much-anticipated race on the Solid Rock Carrier CARS Tour since the inception of the series in 2014. Saturday’s large car count for the Tuff Shed 250 shows how important this event is to Late Model Stock Car racing with a record 42 Late Model Stock Cars (LMSC) entered into the event and 29 Pro Late Models expected for the race.

With the car count, the Tour has added a last-chance race to the schedule. The LMSC allows for 26 cars to qualify for the race, and an additional four positions will be determined through a 15-lap last-chance qualifier, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET. Two additional spots are reserved for provisionals.

William Sawalich will compete Saturday in the No. 43 LMSC tonight. Sawalich has two Pro Late Model wins in the CARS Tour last year at Hickory and is looking forward to bringing his experiences from the Pro Late races last year and a handful of LMSC races to the Tour again this year.

Regarding the large entry list this week and the addition of the last chance qualifier, Sawalich told The Podium Finish that he has had a lot of success with qualifying at Hickory, qualifying in second for the Throwback Race last year.

“We shouldn’t have to worry about the last chance race, but if we do I am confident that we have a fast enough car to get out of it,” Sawalich said. “I am excited to see how that goes and who will be in it and who will be out of it, and see if it makes the quality of the field better.”

The weather could play a part in the race and has already altered the weekend schedule. Fan Fest, including the autograph session, has been canceled and the last chance race has been moved up from 7:15 to 7:00 p.m. ET. The CARS Tour officials plan to do everything they can to be able to race Saturday. Keeley Dubensky, director of operations for the CARS Tour, told Racing America that they will stay until 1 a.m. if necessary to get the races in as they understand that there is an additional cost for the teams associated with staying an additional day.

“If there is rain after practice it will wash away the rubber that was put down during practice, and we would set the car up for how the track currently is there whether it takes on a lot of rubber, which I guess it will since it is a little hot out,” Sawalich said. “And if it does not take on rubber that would honestly be better since when it would rain, it would wash much of the existing track off with what we were setting up for. With the later it gets and the cooler it gets, the more grip the track will have and honestly the better the race will be because no one will be sliding around, it will just be go, go, go.”

Event Notes:
LMSC Single Car Qualifying 5:30 p.m. ET
PLM Single Car Qualifying 6:15
LMSC Last Chance race (15 laps) 7:00
Driver Introductions and Pre-race Ceremonies 7:45
Start of the Tuff Shed 250 8:00

Watch on FloRacing

Track: Hickory Motor Speedway
Location: Hickory, North Carolina
Length: .363 mile
Laps: 150 (LMSC) / 100 (PLM)
CARS LMSC Tour races: 17
CARS PLM Tour races: 2
LMSC Hickory winners: Josh Berry (4), Bobby McCarty (3), Anthony Alfredo (2), Brayton Haws (1), Deac McCaskill (1), Justin T Carroll (1), Taylor Gray (1), Ryan Repko (1), Corey Heim (1), Chad McCumbee (1), Connor Hall (1)
PLM Hickory winners: William Sawalich (2)

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