Hubbard opens season with a victory at Dixieland Speedway
By Jami Frankenberry
Sunday, May 6, 2018
MORGANS CORNER — After winning five features and a points championship last year, Billy Hubbard showed up at Dixieland Speedway for a new season with a simple philosophy: Don’t change much.
Hubbard picked up where he left off, leading from start to finish in a 45-lap Budweiser All-Star race Friday night in front of a big season-opening crowd.
The 3/8-mile dirt oval celebrated its 36th season opener — and the first opener since 2015 that didn’t start with two consecutive Friday night rainouts.
Hubbard, a Cobbs Creek, Va., resident, ignored some tangles behind him to collect $1,500 for the victory.
“We changed very little,” Hubbard said. “We just updated things a little bit to make it a little bit better.”
Hubbard looked faster than the field from the start, and he was oblivious to a back-and-forth between veteran drivers John Staton and Brent Robinson behind him.
The two made contact after Robinson attempted a pass six laps in, sending him spinning and to the rear of the field after a caution. Robinson quickly made his way back toward the front and was black flagged for aggressive driving when he clipped Staton in turn four on lap 15. Staton’s car sustained a flat tire and went to the pits, ending his night. Robinson — black flagged earlier when one of his crew members came on the track during a caution — also left for good after 19 laps.
Staton, a Chesapeake, Va., resident and one of the track’s elder statesmen, shrugged off the tension afterward.
“Racing,” he said. “You gotta take the good with the bad. That makes for good racing.”
Meanwhile, Hubbard kept building his lead. He led by nearly a straightaway with 10 laps left, and by then only four of eight-car field was still on the track.
“Out in front in clean air, you could run your own pace and take it easy on your tires,” Hubbard said.
“You just try to ignore what’s going on behind you. You just concentrate on hitting your marks.”
Three of Dixieland’s other division also opened the season on Friday:
In the Biggs GMC Stock Fours, Dustin Cisco — the defending track champion — claimed the most dramatic finish of the night when he took the lead coming out of the final turn in an adventurous 15-lap feature. Cisco survived a 20-car field that saw four cautions and benefitted when a yellow flag flew with two laps remaining.
Cisco, a Suffolk, Va., resident, pulled into second on the 14th lap and drove around Jason McCauley coming out of Turn 4 to win by a tire. Macauley was second, followed by Bill Akers.
“Me and Jason run together a lot and have a lot of fun doing it,” said Cisco, who dominated the division with eight wins last season. “It was close. We were really door-to-door and I wasn’t sure til I looked at the scoreboard.”
In the Rapid Ron’s Racing Sportsman Division, Troy Brickhouse led the final 11 circuits to win the 20-lap feature. Brickhouse, of Elizabeth City, inherited the lead when pole-sitter Michael Wells Jr. slowed to a crawl on the backstretch and limped to the pits.
Brickhouse finished in front of Mark Gonzales and Joe Weiss and wished his wife a happy 22nd wedding anniversary in a Victory Lane interview.
In the Little Caesar’s Super Streets, Elizabeth City’s Allen Shiflett took over after the first two leaders took a spin on his way to a 20-lap victory. Shiflett took the lead after three laps and steadily built a lead, avoiding the third and final caution to finish ahead of Josh Letson and Justin Pruitt.